If you’ve always been interested in the helping professions (things like nurses, counselors, and clergy) but you don’t want to get an advanced degree or medical training, there’s a great opportunity for you in the non-medical senior home care field.
Your role as a non-medical home care professional would be to provide seniors with a way to “age in place” even when they aren’t able to shoulder the full responsibilities of their homes and daily living tasks.
Nearly 20% of the population will be 65 or older by 2030, so there’s a big need for this kind of service work. And the great news for you is that owning and operating a non-medical home care business doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated!
The Benefits of Working With Seniors
Because so much of the population is skewed toward the elderly, as the massive Baby Boomer generation heads into the retirement years, there’s an enormous opportunity for home care, even the non-medical kind. Most seniors prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible, but as the challenges of old age set in, doing so unassisted becomes increasingly difficult.
By starting this type of business, you’re able to help these citizens stay in their own homes and live out their last years and decades with dignity and autonomy while generating a sustainable income for yourself. Your business can be run from your own home, and you can scale your hours and availability according to the schedule you want. You can even set out to open a business that employs others and operate in a sort of agency model, if that’s what you want.
But perhaps the most satisfying aspect of this type of work is the very real, very needed, and very appreciated service you offer. Not only are you meeting a real need for your clients by helping them age in place, but you’re offering tremendous peace of mind for their adult children — many of whom aren’t nearby and appreciate knowing someone local is checking on their elderly parents regularly.
Types of Non-Medical Home Care Businesses You Can Start
There’s a wide variety of needs that today’s elderly people need, and there are also more instances of people aging with none of their adult children nearby to offer any kind of assistance or support. With that gap growing, you’ve got a great opportunity to start a business that truly helps people. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Patient Advocate: A patient advocate’s role is to help the patient navigate the ins and outs of medical appointments, prescriptions, diagnoses, and more. As a patient advocate, you don’t necessarily need to have a medical background, but you do need to be able to take clear notes, ask questions that the patient may or may not ask but will need to know, get clarification, and be prepared to explain things again to the patient and to the patient’s family. Your role is to make sure that your clients are getting the right information from their doctors and are able to make informed decisions.
- Home Upkeep and Support: It’s difficult for elderly people with various chronic health conditions to keep up with some of the mundane tasks of living. When you offer home support, you might be doing things like sorting their mail, paying bills, going grocery shopping (or taking them out shopping), doing some basic cleaning and housekeeping, or even troubleshooting their technology and helping with basic things like emails or programming the thermostat. If you’re so inclined, you may even offer “handyman” services to make small home repairs, clean gutters, wash windows, and more.
- Transportation: One of the hardest things to lose is the ability to drive. You can offer senior transportation services to help your clients get things done around town, visit their friends, go to appointments, and more. You may need to dig deeper into getting bonded and insured for this particular type of business, though ideally you’ll be bonded and insured no matter what business you open.
- Outdoor Maintenance: Gardening gives great pleasure, but yardwork can become more and more difficult with old age. If you’re interested in gardening and maintaining someone’s outdoor space, you can target your business to seniors who need a bit of help in this area. If you’re working with a woman who used to pride herself on her flowers, you can keep bringing that joy to her life even after she isn’t able to do the weeding and grooming herself. If you live in an area that gets snow, you can also add snow removal services and be a tremendous help (especially if your client has neighbors who aren’t inclined to pitch in).
- Pet Care: Many seniors have small pets for the companionship and quality of life improvements that pets can provide, but at the same time it may become more difficult over time to keep up with the care that these animals require. As a pet care service provider, you might offer anything from regular dog-walking services to pet transportation to and from the groomer and the veterinarian.
These are some of the basic ideas, but there’s certainly no end to the needs that our seniors have.
Some Tips for Success with Non-Medical Home Care
There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to be successful. First, and perhaps most important, your marketing needs to be directed not at the elderly clients themselves, but at their adult children. These are most likely going to be the decision-makers, and the ones who are most likely to admit to the need for your services. It’s a delicate balance, but the work you do is truly valuable and needed. You may also benefit from developing relationships with hospital and rehab discharge planners — they’re not only incredibly insightful to the needs of this population, but they may even become sources of referrals for you.
It’s helpful if you live (or work) in an area that’s economically sound, with some disposable income. Non-medical home health care is usually a service that’s paid for out-of-pocket, so there needs to be a client base near you that’s well off enough to pay for your services on their own.
Finally, consider joining a franchise or membership. The benefits are that you’ll have tons of guidance and support as you start and run your business, but the drawbacks include higher start-up fees and possible restrictions on how you can conduct your business.
All in all, this can be an incredibly rewarding career, especially if it’s the right one for you. The services you provide can be life-changing and even life-extending for your clients, and non-medical home care is incredibly rewarding in that sense. The care and companionship you provide to your clients may be the only bits of human interaction they get, and it’s a deeply rewarding thing to be involved in.