After his father had a stroke in 1972, Kurt A. Kazanowski learned firsthand how difficult it was to care for an ill parent. “My mom and I had caregiver burnout,” says Kazanowski, president of Homewatch Caregivers in Plymouth. “It’s a more well-known issue today, but back then there weren’t a lot of resources people could turn to.”
Part caregiver, part concierge, Kazanowski opened a Homewatch Caregivers franchise in 2006. Since then, he’s expanded into Warren, and new offices are planned for Birmingham and Grosse Pointe. A Detroit native, Kazanowski spent several years running First Home Care in Moscow while consulting on home nursing programs and operations globally.
“The issues of aging are worldwide, and right now we’re exploring opening senior home care companies in Thailand and Singapore,” Kazanowski says. He’s also a professional speaker, business coach, and author of A Son’s Journey: Taking Care of Mom and Dad, and The 7 Pillars of Growth, which is targeted to the hospice and home care industries.
“A lot of times I will facilitate with (grown) children as they try to take care of mom and dad, who can no longer get around like they used to,” he says. “A lot of what’s needed is not covered by insurance, so we have to work through that issue and see what the family can afford.”
Likening the company’s offering to a personal concierge service, hourly fees range from $19 to $24 an hour. With more than 70 certified care-givers in the region, the company works primarily with seniors who want to remain in their residences and still enjoy a balanced lifestyle. Call it a modern day version of Driving Miss Daisy.
The caregivers often are needed following a major health issue such as a heart attack, or when a person suffers from diabetes, dementia, ALS, arthritis, Parkinson’s, or the aftereffects of a stroke. In addition to in-home care services, employees will drive a senior to a grocery store, a library, a shopping mall, or a doctor’s office. They also can serve as a companion when attending a sporting event or a movie.
“We do criminal background checks on all of our employees every six months,” Kazanowski says. “In Michigan, you don’t need a license to be a home health care provider, so you can go on Craig’s List and maybe find someone to care for your mom or dad for $10 an hour, but what are you going to get?”
For around-the-clock services, the company charges around $280 per day.
“We see a lot of opportunity for growth as the baby boomers reach their retirement years,” he says. “We also do work in assisted living facilities for those people who don’t want to live in a skilled nursing facility. We’re trying to get more young people in the business, because the average age of our caregivers is 45 and the labor pool is starting to get stressed.” db