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Islanders’ senior care business thrives, seeks island caregivers – Vashon

Nearly seven years ago, islanders Rob and Marilyn Oswald started a caregiving business, and since that time, their Visiting Angels service has grown exponentially and earned several awards along the way.

Six months after they started, they employed 15 home-care workers. Now, they have about 130 caregivers on the Kitsap Peninsula and five on Vashon — and would like to add three more to the island team.

“Rob and I are thankful to have found a way to serve our community, work together and provide a really meaningful service,” Marilyn said.

The duo serve as co-directors of the business, which provides a wide range of care, from tending to seniors who need just a small amount of assistance, such as with meal preparation and light housekeeping, to those who face considerable challenges and require help with activities of daily living, including showering and toileting. End-of-life care is also among their services, and Marilyn noted they frequently partner with hospice on the island so that families members can rest while their loved one is cared for. They also provide assistance for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. She added that the Veteran’s Administration provides little-known support for home care services, so they work with veterans through it.

Visiting Angels is part of a nationwide company, but the Oswalds’ business very much belongs to them.

“It’s ours,” Marilyn said when they began this service. “We have a huge vested interest in making sure our clients are satisfied.”

Their recent awards indicated they have achieved that goal.

This year they won the Leader in Excellence Award from Home Care Pulse, a research firm for the home care industry and an award the couple says they have been working toward for years.

Only four home-care agencies statewide and 4 percent of all home-care agencies nationwide received this award, which is based on client and caregiver satisfaction ratings, according to a Home Care Pulse press release.

Home Care Pulse also has awarded them with the Employer and Provider of Choice for the past five years, and just last month, the Oswalds won the South Kitsap Business Excellence Award from the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce.

Marilyn’s mother died of cancer before she and Rob opened the business, and she said the experience translates into what they offer now.

“I know what I wanted as a daughter and what our family needed,” she said. “I want to provide that same level of care during really difficult times for the families that we serve.”

Vashon has several private home caregivers, and while they can be an excellent choice, Marilyn said there are benefits for working with an agency. Employees must pass rigorous background checks and be a certified nursing assistant or certified home care aide. Also, with the number of people they employ, if someone is sick or vacation, the agency can still provide the needed care to individuals. Working for an agency can also benefit employees, Marilyn said, because they get benefits, including paid time off, and are covered by workers’ compensation.

The winter holidays can be a time when adult children develop concerns about a parent they might not have seen in a while, Marilyn noted. They should not hesitate to reach out for assistance or advice.

Most people want to live out their lives in their own homes, she added, and hiring caregivers can help make that possible. Additionally, she said, having a professional assisting in the home, even part time, helps seniors safely stay in their homes longer.

Rob and Marilyn have divided the tasks of the business, with Rob focused more on human resources, accounting and operations, and Marilyn focused on hiring and coaching employees and meeting with families to determine how to best meet their needs. That is one of the elements of her work she enjoys the most.

“I get to meet the most amazing families,” she said, noting that she had just met a couple who have been married 70 years. “It is such a privilege to be part of the journey with them.”

For more information, see or call 206-408-7433.

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