If you stop by 133 West Herrick Ave., you’re likely to think you’ve walked into someone’s home.
Dogs run by. Baby Mackenzie smiles. Grandma Stephanie Saunders is nearby. You’ve walked into one of Wellington’s newest businesses, Preferred Care at Home of Lorain County, providing senior in-home care services.
“It’s all family,” Saunders, the owner, said. “It’s all about family.” Saunders, a registered nurse, bought the franchise in 2011. She ran it from her home for some time before relocating to LaGrange.
In December, she moved to Wellington. “It’s good to be home,” said the Wellington native.
“Wellington takes care of their family, their parents,” she said. “They understand the concept of maintaining dignity and independence. They value family.”
Saunders does too. Her youngest son, Kevin, is the full-time administrator. Daughter-in-law Kellie is the office manager and events coordinator. Dawn Hatcher, care coordinator, juggles phones and sometimes the dogs and Kevin and Kellie’s baby.
Saunders oversees it all. Services are available 24 hours a day and include non-medical care such as companion care, personal care, live-in care, Alzheimer’s care, and hospice. The agency provides services throughout Lorain, Huron, and Erie counties.
Saunders spends a lot of time pairing caregivers with those for whom they’ll be caring. Caregivers are independent contractors.
“I pride myself in trying to get the best relationship pairing,” she said. “It’s very difficult when you have someone coming into your home because it’s scary when you don’t know the people. So I try very hard to build trust with my families.”
Saunders said her agency provides only non-medical care such as bathing, hygiene assistance, and meal preparation and dovetails nicely with home health agencies, which can provide medical care. “I like to think of ourselves as a referral agency for qualified caregivers,” she said.
Saunders hopes to build a reference library of material to assist families. “We’d like to be an oasis of information for seniors and caregivers. There is huge research telling us that caregivers pass away before the actual person they are caring for because it is so stressful.”
They even take care of pets. “A lot of times seniors have had to get rid of their pets because they can’t take care of them,” she said. “We want them to have it.”
Once she even loaned her tortoise-shell cat, Bandit, to someone who once had a similar cat and was in her last days. “We sent the cat over there and that lady was in heaven,” Saunders said.
Whatever it takes, Saunders said she is ready to work with the family to provide quality, home-based care.
Catherine Gabe can be reached at 440-371-6141 or @ReporterGabe on Twitter.
Photos by Catherine Gabe | Wellington Enterprise
It’s all in the family at Preferred Care at Home where baby Mackenize hangs with her dad, Kevin Saunders, who is the administrator.