October 12, 2010 | last updated May 29, 2012 10:48 pm

John Shulansky, partner in EldersChoice of West Hartford

Q. You and your wife Debbie have brought EldersChoice to Connecticut. What is it? What made you start the company?

A: EldersChoice of Connecticut LLC offers 24/7 non-medical live in home care provided by a highly qualified caregiver who works up to three months before taking a break. We prepare a comprehensive assessment of the client and actively monitor the case to assure the quality and continuity of care. We also provide shorter term and respite care for a minimum of two weeks. When the caregiver takes a break, we provide an equally qualified temporary caregiver. A local hospital executive referred us to our EldersChoice partners in Maryland and Pennsylvania as an ideal team to bring the business to the state. Our board and clinical experience with health care and generations of involvement and service to the Greater Hartford community makes EldersChoice a perfect fit.

Q. How big is the market for this in Connecticut? How much room is there in the elderly home care market for another company?

A: Connecticut and particularly Greater Hartford have one of the older and aging populations in the United States. Baby boomers will continue to age in place. There is a growing emphasis on keeping older adults at home rather than moving them into a nursing home or other restricted care environment. Our caregivers help with activities of daily living, such as personal hygiene, meal preparation, light housekeeping, running errands and shopping, and companionship. Living at home is generally much less expensive than other alternatives and can provide a high quality of life for the client and real peace of mind for the family.

Q. Is this a regulated industry in Connecticut? Your promotional material mentions background checks. Are they required by law? What, if any, regulatory hurdles did you need to start your company here?

A. In Connecticut, homemaker and companion agencies must be registered with the state Department of Consumer Protection and meet certain minimum legal standards, including criminal background checks of caregivers and bonding. We are HCA.0000489. EldersChoice in Pennsylvania and Maryland are licensed by the state Departments of Health and have more stringent licensing standards. We follow these higher standards because we believe they represent the kind of care values, diligence and transparency any client or family should expect.

Q. How do you go about creating a workforce for this kind of company? Where do you recruit workers? How many employees do you currently have or are the home health care workers independent contractors?

A. Our clients are blessed with caregivers who are committed to this kind of care as their life's work. They come from all over the United States and the best ones all know each other. We accept applications for caregivers on our website, www.elders-choice.com, and commence a comprehensive screening process. Over the last few years, our EldersChoice partners in Pennsylvania and Maryland have developed a pool of qualified caregivers that meet our high standards, including certification as a Certified Nursing Assistant, health examinations, referral checks and competency testing. Our caregivers work directly for the client or family.

Q. In approximate dollars, what kind on investment is required to start up an elderly home care business? What are some of the bigger expenses associated with it? Is EldersChoice a franchise?

A. EldersChoice of Connecticut is a partnership with EldersChoice in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Their home care protocols have been developed and proven, so our focus has been on fine tuning a wonderful model and getting the word out. There are all kinds of home care businesses for older adults so the investment can vary from three to five thousand dollars to much more. In our situation, among the bigger expenses are risk management and informational materials. We also travel throughout the state to regularly monitor our clients and assess new cases.

Q. Where do businesses like this fall out in mandated government health insurance? Some long-term insurance will cover these programs but will they ever be covered by health insurance?

A. EldersChoice of Connecticut provides non-medical home care that is covered by many long-term care insurance policies; every policy is different. Government health insurance is going to continue to encourage home care by controlling reimbursements for nursing homes and other kinds of restrictive care environments. As the population continues to age and remain healthier later in life, non-medical care will be a more important piece of the continuum of care as well as the collaboration with at-home medical care providers. Since living at home is much less expensive, some kinds of government financial incentives are likely to develop, including broader insurance coverage.

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