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West Pasco in-home care service part of healthcare trend

At age 89, New Port Richeys Ken Gregory prides himself on living independently. Yet when a few bad falls resulted in hospitalization, he knew he might need help.

His insurance company referred him to Home Instead Senior Care in New Port Richey, a local division of a national agency devoted to providing care and companionship for older adults.

When Gregory enlisted the services of caregivers Judy Fischer and Janet Princiotta, he found more than a pair of caregivers who could cook for him, help him rise in the morning and settle him into an exercise routine.

“These people are like family now,” he said. “Without them, it would have been impossible for me to stay at home. Theyve made such a difference.”

Ann Marie Winter, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, didnt offer an opinion specifically on Home Instead, but said her nonprofit supports the use of in-home care.

“This service helps seniors stay in their homes,” she said. “In-place is so much better than institutional care, which serves its purpose for seniors who can no longer live at home. This type of care also prevents social isolation, in that seniors have someone to talk to.”

AAAPP has served senior citizens and their caregivers in Pasco and Pinellas counties since 1974. The agency focuses on funding, advocacy, services and programs for seniors and funded 99,299 hours of at-home care for local seniors in 2016-2017.

Home Instead offers hourly and fixed-fee rates. The cost is covered by some health insurance plans.

Gregory says that since working with Home Instead, his level of physical fitness has improved.

“My doctor notices that my blood pressure has gone down,” Gregory said. “And he notices that Im happier.”

Thats the whole idea behind Home Instead, according to New Port Richey office co-owner Stacey Murphy.

“The goal has always been to keep people home, whenever they want to be,” she said. Murphy shares ownership with her husband.

While one Home Instead patient might need around-the-clock nursing care, another might need someone to run errands or do housework. Short-term rehabilitation services after surgery, long-term dementia care and hospice service also are available.

Caregivers are trained to become home health aides. Some are current or retired nurses, while others have professional backgrounds unrelated to medical care.

“We uncover their skills,” said Stacey Murphy. “The common denominator is that they want to help. They want to make a difference.”

Home Instead has roots in Omaha, where Paul and Lori Hogan founded the company in 1994. According to the corporate website, Paul Hogans experience caring for his grandmother convinced him of the value of in-home caregivers for seniors. Home Instead began its franchise network in 1995, and today has more than 1,000 offices around the world.

Retired registered nurse Joy Cook established the companys presence in west Pasco, which serves New Port Richey, Hudson, Trinity, Port Richey, Holiday, Odessa, Land OLakes, Lutz, Elfers and Aripeka.

Last year, west Pasco Home Instead caregiver Christine Collins of New Port Richey was named the 2017 North American CAREGiver of the Year for the company. A separate Home Instead franchise serves east Pasco.

The majority of Home Instead patients are over the age of 70, although the agency has cared for early-onset Alzheimers patients in their 50s.

“We have one client who is 96 years old and very sharp,” said co-owner John Murphy. “She is very determined to live on her own.”

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