Seniors Helping Seniors comes to Fluvanna

In a recent interview, Watkins, who is president of Seniors Helping Seniors in Central Virginia, explained what the franchise is all about.

Where did the idea for this unique service originate?

Watkins: Seniors Helping Seniors in-home services was co-founded by Kiran and Philip Yocom created from Kiran Yocom’s personal mission to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. Before coming to the United States from India, Kiran worked with Mother Teresa for fourteen years. Currently, Kiran serves as the Chairwoman of Seniors Helping Seniors and Philip as the President/CEO.

What is the purpose of this service?

Watkins: SHS in-home services matches seniors who want to provide help with seniors who are looking for help. We started in 1998 with a simple concept that seniors can help each other age better and that those who give and those who receive benefit equally. As an innovative, intra-generational companion service that functions exclusively with and for seniors.

These are non-medical services, therefore what services does SHS provide?

Watkins: We provide an experienced and credible resource for older adults who want to stay in their own homes. Services included a full-range of home care, companion and home maintenance support services from seniors who enjoy helping. Some of the services include light housekeeping, companionship, preparing meals, transportation including doctor’s appointments, yard and maintenance work, personal grooming and dressing, overnight stays (24 hours) and respite care.

Why did you want to manage a franchise in this area?

Watkins: As you can see, SHS was not my idea, but it was my idea to bring Seniors Helping Seniors to Central Virginia. My wife, Susan, and I saw the need for this type of care in our own lives. We were caregivers in our home for Susan’s mother and father during the last years of their lives. We would have loved to have found a service like SHS to provide the respite care we needed from time to time. Instead we had to settle for a provider who just sat and read a book while we were gone.

I know that a SHS provider would have engaged Susan’s parents in interesting and fun conversations that would have made their time together much more enjoyable and meaningful. It was this experience that made us want to help others in similar situations.

We decided to relocate to Charlottesville from Atlanta in April of this year. Susan (Dr. Wiesner) has been associated with University of Virginia for the last five years so we know what a wonderful area this is and we decided that this is where we wanted to live and open our business. We researched the population and found that there are many seniors living in Central Virginia and many more are retiring here each year from the Northeast, in particular. It made the perfect spot for us to live and work.
What does it cost?

Watkins: We have reasonable hourly rates for seniors who want services and reasonable hourly wages to seniors who provide them and SHS will provide the same high quality in home services for seniors in Fluvanna County at an affordable price. The difference is that our providers are seniors themselves and, as a result, can better relate to the aging process. They are giving, loving and compassionate people with the heart of a volunteer and a strong work ethic. They want to help. Not one of our providers asked me what the job pays. You won’t see a young college student listening to her IPod. Our goal at SHS is to provide a series of non-medical in-home services to help seniors live independently, in their own home, as long as possible.

The SHS providers can also, if necessary, provide services in Assisted Living Communities. These seniors deserve someone who can help and really wants to help. The SHS care providers are there because they want to be. They are more than just a provider of service, they can become a friend.

SHS also helps provide service opportunities for seniors who still can be a vital, productive part of the work force. Our active, caring seniors still have a lot to offer. SHS is the perfect way to give and to receive.

What is the ultimate goal for SHS?

Watkins: Our ultimate goal at SHS to provide quality, loving care for seniors to enable them to live independently in their own homes as long as possible. I think we all want to grow old in our own homes and all it takes is a little help from your friends at SHS.

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