By Sue Moore
When you really need home care, for yourself or someone in the family, the need or the realization is often sudden, followed by a scramble for information.
It happens when a member of the family is disabled, has surgery, suffers from dementia or some other lingering illnesses.
Vicksburg Family Home Care is a new service started in Vicksburg by Terry and Sara Barnes. The couple have lived there for eight years while raising two young sons. The home care business is especially designed for the south Kalamazoo County area residents, Terry said. While there are plenty of services in Kalamazoo, the couple perceived a need in the more rural areas. And they should know; Terry has worked with United Nursing Services in Kalamazoo for many years as a scheduler and community liaison. Sara is a registered nurse and works at Reverence, Borgess Hospital’s Home Health Care service and Hospice. They met when she was an emergency room nurse at Bronson and Terry was with environmental services, cleaning up the trauma rooms.
Home care is somewhat different from home health care. The specialty doesn’t involve medical assistance but is oriented to patients who need help with everyday living essentials. This might include light housekeeping, companionship, personal care, meal assistance, laundry, grocery shopping/errands, along with respite and dementia care. It might include walking a treasured pet.
They currently have 13 part-time employees that they have known through their many connections in the health care field. “We take pride in our staff and pay them more than the other services as we believe they are the best in the business. We want to reward them for being on time, good attendance, reliability and especially their willingness to do extra work above and beyond the job description,” Terry said. “We are fully bonded and insured and do thorough background checks and periodic drug testing on our employees.”
Sara is responsible for establishing a “care plan” and health screening. Although their employees do not work with medications, Sara as a registered nurse can give meds or medical set up if needed. “It’s my job to assist the patients to make sure they are satisfied with the service plan. If not, we will adjust it a different way if it needs to be changed. I update the plan every month with either a phone call or personal visit,” Sara indicated.
Barb Eberstein in Schoolcraft had a stroke two years ago and is in a wheelchair. She has been using the service for a month and praises it unabashedly. “My caregiver, Rosie, jumps right in to help. She’s willing to try anything, just like the nurses have taught me to do. She could go to the store for me, fix food, and even looks for more to do around the house.”
Sara is a native of Ceresco, southeast of Battle Creek, receiving her degree in nursing from Kellogg Community College. “I’ve wanted to help people feel better since I was six. It gives me great comfort to take care of people. We both get involved personally in the business and we are both caregivers. There’s not a lot we don’t do,” Sara emphasized.
Terry graduated from Baker College in his home town of Port Huron, where he took business courses. He also attended Ross Medical Education Center in Portage, where he completed the dental assisting program. “I’m involved in the nitty gritty of the everyday business and we both have started to volunteer with Sunset School and other Vicksburg nonprofit organizations such as South County Community Services.”