When thinking about the concept of systems, what comes to mind are things most often recognized as functional, interactive, and interdependent segments that allow something to be seen as whole. There are a number of perceptions that define a system – ecological, social, political and informational are just a few of many examples.
Yet, families are not often recognized as being a ‘system.’ But they very much are. It was Dr. Murray Bowen who suggested the family systems theory in the 1950s, proposing that individuals in a family can’t be understood in isolation from each other. Every family member draws upon their interrelationship with each other creating, hopefully, a fully functional family unit.
So what happens when a crisis, particularly a medical one, begins to challenge a once harmonious unit, creating confusion and despair instead?
This is where Qualicare Family Homecare intercedes on a client’s and their family’s behalf – to make an impaired system right again.
It was Wayne Nathanson and his wife Andrea who established Qualicare Family Homecare in 2001, largely out of a conscious awareness of a need within the health and homecare delivery system.
When Wayne’s father Bernard was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Wayne relied on a number of caregivers to tend to his father until both he and Andrea, a registered nurse, coordinated his care. Upon his father’s passing in 1999 other individuals were calling and requesting the Nathansons’ support and assistance in caring for family members experiencing medical crises. Wayne realized that at least 40 people were involved in caring for his father, which required exceptional skills in coordinating the full spectrum of homecare delivery.
Wayne, the President and CEO of Qualicare, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario with a regional office in Southfield, Michigan, works with Andrea, Executive Director, and reflects upon the challenging time with his father. He shares that, “There’s a lot to coordinate when you’re trying to manage a difficult healthcare challenge. In fact, there are new challenges every day and there are a lot of families in similar situations. Fortunately this is a very gratifying thing to be doing with our lives. Sometimes life’s difficulties motivate us to do something meaningful… and that’s why Qualicare was created.”
A medical crisis can present itself in many ways – Alzheimer’s, dementia, or cancer, for example. But regardless of the illness, a comprehensive care plan, support, and coordination may be required, not only for the client’s peace of mind and comfort but the family’s as well. Qualicare refers to their complete spectrum of care as the 360° Approach, which is their unique way of offering home care options.
Qualicare’s comprehensive homecare system addresses the challenging complexities of care, not just in the home but in hospitals, nursing homes and retirement facilities. The company believes in delivering not only quality service, but compassion, respect and dignity through all stages of illness – core values of the Qualicare brand. For the Qualicare team, it’s not just about providing care, but actually caring.
If for this reason alone, Qualicare is very selective in choosing its caregivers. Caregivers are, after all, instrumental in how the organization is perceived by clients and the broader medical community. “We always look at caregivers and people who are in front of our clients as the face of the company,” explains Wayne. “We want to project a quality level of service delivery where we’re offering families something that really changes a difficult situation,” he adds. “We want to make sure that we match our clients with the right caregivers and that they exhibit the core values that Qualicare stands for.”
Every caregiver at Qualicare is a qualified, trained, educated and focused individual who is prepared to provide the required care for the physical needs and emotional support for clients and their families. Through thoughtful matching of caregivers to clients and families; a trusting, respectful dynamic is created, enabling the realization of optimal care results.
As a means of ensuring exceptional care, “Every one of our clients has an assigned nurse manager to support them. In addition, they manage and monitor the caregivers to ensure that we exceed customer expectations,” adds Wayne. “Because we have that nurse manager involved at that intimate level, we’re able to make sure that we have consistent oversight on each case. This is an area that differentiates us.”
He notes that as advocates for the client, registered nurse managers work with clients in creating care plans which the caregiver follows. “The nurse manager collaborates with the patient’s physicians, social agencies and hospitals to ensure every resource is coordinated to benefit from our 360° Approach and the total spectrum of care.” The caregiver is also monitored and managed throughout the care plan which reinforces Qualicare’s goal of providing appropriate and effective client care.
As well, in each stage of care plan delivery the family is encouraged to be involved. It is in fact imperative that they become a part of their loved one’s journey through a challenging time, hopefully, to complete recovery.
“It’s a family experience. It’s not just about the patient,” shares Wayne. Family members can, and often do, become stressed themselves with challenges of their own, trying to balance work, children and the demands of daily life. “We’re not just providing patient care; we’re providing support to all members of the family,” explains Wayne. “We look at the family as a unit… The care plan is how we’re going to help the patient and their family. The family members have a role in that process.”
Qualicare offers a best-of-breed software system that more efficiently and effectively ensures that all principals in a client’s care are well informed. The Qualicare Patient Information Delivery System (QPID) has a portal for family member access as well as the medical professionals on the team, “so that information can be shared while still adhering to privacy requirements,” explains Wayne. “It’s a great proactive way to keep the family members involved and all the medical professionals on the same page… care coordination removes the chaos and provides better care and more effective results.”
Introducing a Cognitive Workout
Brain Workout+ TM is Qualicare’s innovative program offered at its many franchise locations. It’s designed around the premise that, much like our bodies, our cognitive functions need reinforcing, especially for seniors with cognitive impairment.
This program exercises the whole brain with neuro-aerobics, in the form of mobility and relaxation exercises, music and art stimuli, puzzles and Reiki, to name a few. All clients are encouraged to socialize and interact during these sessions that are, unlike computerized programs, Qualicare’s BrainWorkout+TM is conducted with a trained facilitator. The program consists of exercises tailored toward client preference and capability.
The program is offered through Qualicare’s homecare package or in a facility. “We’re looking holistically at the whole person,” stresses Wayne. “We’re providing opportunities for [clients] to exercise and stimulate their mind.”
Growing significantly since its inception in 2001, Qualicare decided to franchise in 2011. It now has 14 franchises in Canada and 13 in the U.S. And like its caregivers, it is selective in its homecare franchisees. The company believes in quality of service to a very high standard and expects the same from those considering starting a Qualicare franchise.
Every new franchisee must be approved by existing franchise owners, not only to establish a representation of the Qualicare family, but also to foster the manner in which the Qualicare brand gains recognition and subsequent growth. In addition, every franchisee must have a nurse trained through the company’s 360˚ Case Management Accreditation Program.
All new and approved franchise owners receive ongoing support in the form of business development, training, licensing, marketing and the hiring of staff. Much of Qualicare’s success can be attributed to its unique aforementioned 360˚ Approach which has essentially enabled more service offerings and revenue streams compared to competitors – reason enough for Qualicare to be acknowledged as number one among the Top Emerging Franchise Brands by Franchise Business Review in 2014 and number one for medical homecare by Forbes.
With a four to five week selection process, Qualicare wants to give franchisees, “a good picture of what it means to be part of the Qualicare brand is and to prepare them as best that we can,” shares Wayne. It’s a 50/50 selection process, he explains. “We’re making an assessment as to whether we think they’ll be successful, and they’re making an assessment about whether homecare is the right business and Qualicare is the right brand for them.”
Once selected, a franchisee undertakes a nine month training program. “Basically we train them for three months before they open and then we give them different types of training and support over the next six months until they become more confident and independent in what they’re doing. We pride ourselves on the focus we have on training and support. It’s all about making our franchisees successful.”
Wayne acknowledges that sometimes the challenge is in having all franchisees remaining consistent and following the Qualicare system for excellence in homecare services. As a relatively young franchise, he notes that, “What we’re getting better at is measuring success and how people achieve that success.”
Part of Qualicare’s vision is to establish 200 franchise locations in the next five years. “We see most of our growth being the U.S.,” says Wayne. “We should have, by that time, coast to coast coverage in Canada.”
Qualicare is an ideological system at work. Their 360° Approach could, and undoubtedly will, change the face of the homecare industry.