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The Power of 10

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Reflections on 10 years with Home Instead Senior Care in Saskatoon 

By Karen Charyna

1.            THE DREAM

In fall of 2007, through a search of home care companies, Greg and I quickly realized that Home Instead is the world leader and we really wanted the opportunity to be a part of their work. 

2.            THE MIRACLES

To make our Home Instead dream a reality several miracles were required.  By then we were drawn to the Company and hoped the miracles would fall into place.  We kept moving forward and the miracles came:  within one month the franchise was awarded to us, the Market Mall office fell into our lap, a home was bought in Saskatoon and a home was sold in Chemainus.  We were on our way.

3.            THE MOVE

On Dec 27th we pulled our caravan into Saskatoon.  Ben was in grade 5 and Sophia in grade 3; they were glad to see cousins and snow.  We knew 3 families and they helped us unload our UHAUL.  We set up our home, got the kids into school and painted our house.  In February we gained possession of the Market Mall space and spent school hours setting up our business. 

4.            A RUNNING START

We went for Franchise Owner training from March 9 -16 and opened on March 17.   We had no CAREGivers, clients or admin staff – just Greg & I.  People flooded in off the mall so we closed the doors a little longer, to get organized.  Greg did lots of shifts and overnights in the beginning.  He entertained getting a second job but didn't.  We made the profit off our property sale stretch until we could begin paying ourselves.  We multitasked and did everything by ourselves until we could hire admin staff.  Based on that formative experience I still tell our team and our kids, 'you can do much more than you think you can, if you fully commit to your responsibilities and prioritize.'  Greg and I had an agreement when we started out, 'We Burned The Ships', we agreed there was no turning back – we had to make this work.

5.            STRONG GROWTH

We hired 36 CAREGivers in 2008 and served just under 7000 client service hours.  It was a great start.  The 10 year growth trend is a strong upward line and we are chasing after all of the best practices for enhancing the lives of older adults, recruiting, training and supporting CAREGivers.  Helping families talk, plan and implement supportive care is a focus of our ongoing consulting and education work.


Our company never rests as we support CAREGivers around the clock.  Our admin team who have blossomed with growth and development make it possible.  Without these dedicated people we could not do what we do 24/7.  Our heartfelt thanks goes to our long term admin staff:  Helen, Brenda, Marina and Rita.


Without a doubt, our finest moments have occurred between our dear clients and their outstanding CAREGivers.  Exceptional relationships of care have made an immense difference when our clients had great need.  When client families share their gratitude, it fuels us.  It is impossible to capture in words just how meaningful this work is and how much it means to our seniors that our CAREGivers are there for them.  I also recently received extensive care from Home Instead CAREGivers for my own parents. My family could not have provided the level of care my father received during his decline and passing, without our  CAREGivers.


We enjoy honoring our individual CAREGiver's work through the CAREGiver of the Month and Year programs. Three of our Saskatoon CAREGivers were named CAREGiver of the year for Canada.  And in 2013, after winning for all of Canada, our rare CAREGiver, Rick Folkerson, rose to the top as the winner of the North American CAREGiver of the Year award for Home Instead Senior Care.  This was an amazing surprise and honor for Rick to receive and for our team to celebrate. 

8.            TEAM TIME

Early in our days we realized that our CAREGiver's solitary work in client's homes necessitated regular group training and social gatherings.  Our monthly Pick Me Up events, CAREGiver training classes and quarterly CAREGiver meetings, potlucks and awards, including CAREGivers of the Month and Year have created precious team memories.  During those times shared together we have heard the many and varied ways CAREGivers earn trust and take the lead with their clients.  These moving stories remain with us as powerful, joyful memories.


Educational events, partnerships with community businesses and the health region have shaped our activity in the community.  And then there is Be A Santa To A Senior.  Thanks to hundreds of volunteers we have delivered thousands of gifts and Christmas cheer to seniors living in long term care.


Our new office location, at the historic CP Rail Station, is a great place for us; it is central and private for our staff and the clients who visit us.  Our past and future work is changing the future of aging.  We are part of a movement, changing the face of aging from fear to hope, paying forward our vision of a hopeful future for our families and ourselves. We are glad to continue partnering with CAREGivers to do this important work of enriching the lives of aging adults and supporting families.  I look forward to more fine CAREGivers joining our team and more and more families receiving the capable care and companionship our CAREGivers have to offer.

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