SPRINGFIELD, NJ - For Mia Kebea, Executive Vice President of Seniors in Place (SIP), her family’s drive to start their home care company began way back in 2001, when a pair of personal situations provided the impetus to change the way in-home senior healthcare is provided.
It all started when Kebea’s mother Rae was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
“My mom was a 43-year-old woman, and one day she went to the doctor, and she was told that she has a terrible heart issue. They gave her six months to live,” Kebea said. “It was a real shocker to us as a family, and she decided that she was going to fight for her life, and she went for it, and my mom ended up living for seven years.”
“But in that period of time, my brothers and me, we went through a lot. Open-heart surgery, in and out of rehab, terrible diagnosis, continually in and out of doctor’s offices, on different medications, looking for help anywhere we could.”
Shortly after Kebea’s Mother passed, her grandmother Leah also died. Before she passed, caring for Leah fell to Kebea’s father and the original founder of SIP, Richard Blecker. Leah had a succession of 16 caregivers due to the lack of qualified home care workers.
After experiencing the challenges of caring for an elderly family member who did not want to go into a nursing home, Blecker opened SIP, to allow elderly patients to maintain their independence in their own homes. The SIP family is passionately committed to helping others navigate their elderly parent’s care.
Over the years, Blecker was joined in the business by his sons Adam, Richard and Chad, along with his daughter Mia. Chad, who served for 13 years in the organization, recently left to start a new venture, but was instrumental in the growth of Seniors In Place during his time with the organization.
Kebea noted how much the landscape of home healthcare has changed since 2001, when their business opened up.
“There was really no good home care,” Kebea said. “There [were] no regulations, nobody really running a real show, people working independently. There were no certifications and companies that were true home care agencies if you will, that really catered to this.”
In differentiating the quality of care available to SIP clients, she noted that from the beginning SIP has been licensed, bonded and has always carried workers comp.
Kebea advised that it’s vital for everyone to have their affairs in order, even if they aren’t senior citizens yet. “That is so important. The first thing I’d say is you have to have a power of attorney. “You have to have a long-term care policy in place for yourself.”
“Whether it be your wishes [or] your DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), power of attorney is probably the most important piece of paper I could say you need to start planning ahead. There’s no time too early to call someone.” SIP can recommend their trusted attorneys and financial experts to organize estates.
Sometimes a fall or illness becomes a crisis that needs to be resolved in a day or two. Kebea recommends preparing and protecting oneself by learning about available options. In addition to financial and care arrangements, senior’s homes often need to be modified for handicapped access. SIP has that covered as Kebea’s brother provides that service.
She also mentioned that people don’t necessarily know their rights. For example, children can choose the rehabilitation facility that their loved one goes to, rather than use the one chosen by the social worker.
As for the cost, reputable agencies charge between $27.50 to 32.50 an hour for care. Kebea warned that lower priced agencies might not offer quality care. SIP rates are in the middle range.
She noted, “Our caregivers are the center of our universe. Without them we have nothing.” SIP treats their caregivers accordingly.
Kebea shared that SIP takes pride in their excellent service, and they are on call 24 hours a day and do not charge for nurse visits.
And now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, SIP is still at the forefront of safety. Caregivers are given physicals and COVID tested at their facility.
She explained, “Senior safety is always our number one priority.” SIP’s caregivers are state-certified and insured. They receive benefits as well as ongoing education and evaluations.
Kebea reported, “SIP has an impeccable record of safety.” During the pandemic, they have implemented and exceeded CDC policies to protect their clients from COVID-19.
Certified Home Health Aides (CHHA) are pre-screened and trained by Registered Nurses, as well as updated frequently on COVID-19. They are provided with gloves and N95 and KN95 masks. CHHAs and nurses are tested for COVID-19.
SIP’s family has two decades of experience in handling eldercare and can advise those in need every step of the way. Kebea stresses, “No problem is too big or too small to get started in trying to find proper care for a loved one. Plan now.”
She emphasized that asking for guidance is simple, and no one should be afraid to make the call. Their expertise will make the entire process easier.
SIP offers valuable recommendations for eldercare:
- If you’re unable to call your family member daily, find out if there’s a local daily check-in service. These services call at the same time each day and notify the family and/or police if the phone call is not answered.
- Purchase a medical alert device if your loved one doesn’t have one.
- The bathroom must have grab bars in the shower (not the ones with suction cups), a shower seat, a non-slip mat and a handheld shower nozzle.
- The living space should not be cluttered with things that might cause the senior to trip and fall. Excess furniture, extension cords, area rugs and similar items need to be removed.
- The home must have a fire alarm and a carbon monoxide detector. Check batteries every six months.
- Keep the refrigerator and cabinets stocked with healthy food, and make sure expired items are disposed of.
- That the senior should have a mask, and groceries and other supplies need to be delivered to her home.
SIP is Accredited with Distinction by the Commission on Accreditation.
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