Serving the home health, home care and hospice industry since 1999.

Molly Koenig founded Bridgewater Senior Home Care in Cleveland out of a passion to give other seniors a better in-home care experience than her mother had received. At the time, she knew no other pathway than to look in the Yellow Pages for a home care agency. Unfortunately, she found her mother's aides to be less than compassionate.

They reminded her of others she knew during her brief time working in a nursing home right after college. "I could hear them from my window," she told us, "talking and laughing about patients while out for a smoke break. I resolved then to someday create a company where families feel how much we care. I decided, if I ever hired caregivers, I would make sure they were caring people."

We spoke with Molly Koenig when we heard she had made the decision to make Bridgewater the newest partner in the Honor Care Network. She believes the alliance will help solve her largest problem, one shared by all home care providers. In fact, she says it already has. "Oh, we had plenty of demand, plenty of opportunity for growth," she continued, "but we could not always staff the visits and shifts because we could not find enough caregivers. I was spending 90% of my week fretting about hiring and had little time left to see to operations and doing the things that originally inspired me to start this business, like helping families and meeting the adult daughter and getting hugs from people I had just met."

Expanding network

Honor announced Tuesday the addition of three new home care agencies to its "Honor Care Network," marking the San Francisco company's expansion into two new states. In addition to Bridgewater Senior Home Care in Cleveland, two Detroit agencies have signed on: Affordable Home Care and Bridgeway Senior Services.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Ohio and Michigan each have more than one million older adults age 65 and older, making each state one of the "grayest" states in the country. In the Midwest, the number of professional caregivers is not keeping up with the aging population, creating a dire situation for home care agencies struggling to keep up with demand for in-home care.

In a direct care workforce report published by PHI, the state of Michigan projects needing more than 30,000 personal care aides by next year, estimating the need for thousands more as the state rapidly ages over the next 15 years. Ohio fares no better, with 57 percent of survey respondents confirming they have fewer home health aides than planned. Additionally, more than 70 percent of survey respondents stated they do not have enough qualified candidates to meet demand (LeadingAge Ohio Long Term Care Workforce Crisis 2016 Report).

According to an Honor news announcement, in joining the Honor Care Network, Bridgewater Senior Home Care, Affordable Home Care, and Bridgeway Senior Services will gain access to a shared pool of trained and qualified caregivers, cutting-edge workforce management technology for caregiver scheduling, training, and performance, and a complete operations support team. These resources will help these home care agency owners to focus on providing more high-quality, in-home care to the growing number of older adults in their communities.

A "blessing"

"I was ecstatic when we found out about the Honor Care Network," Koenig told us. "We didn't sign up right away but talked to others first. We decided it was an answer to our prayers. We wanted to remain a family-owned company, but we needed a partner to help with the caregiver shortage. Now, even though we are still new, we already feel the benefits. It's a blessing. We needed a way to continue to expand our mission and this is it."

She went on to explain that the partnership has relieved the stress of seeing to operations and allowed her to focus on sales and marketing. "Our numbers going up. We are growing, which means we are helping more families. Honor does all the recruiting and hiring, freeing us to focus on marketing. Our referral sources, especially home health agencies, are impressed with our new technology as well. They love that we can coordinate and collaborate when we are both servicing the same client."

She is referring to Honor technology systems that make it easy for field staff to record visit notes, which are immediately shared with other caregivers scheduled to care for the same patient, and with the patient's family. She can see how a patient is doing under a current schedule and recommend that the family increase hours if necessary. She can monitor caregivers in the field, which was difficult before. And when a shift changes for a patient on 24/7 care, each caregiver has full visibility into what the other has done as they walk into the home.

Growing network

Since launching the Honor Care Network in 2017, Honor has partnered with numerous independently owned home care agencies and now provides non-medical home care services to older adults in more than 800 cities and towns across California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and now Ohio and Michigan. The company expects to continue its expansion of the Honor Care Network into additional states.

"Home care agencies in the Midwest see the immediate value of joining the Honor Care Network, including the impact it has in helping to alleviate the caregiver workforce shortage," said Nita Sommers, president of Honor. "Our focus on improving the overall caregiver experience — demonstrated by our effective caregiver recruiting, strong caregiver retention rates, and our ability to consistently maintain high caregiver satisfaction scores — resonates with agency owners across the board, and particularly with those who are feeling the acute pain in their business."

"Running this business used to be work for me," Koenig concluded. "Today, it's not work; it is my passion once again. I love it more as an Honor member because I don't have to do the things I don't like to do. No more 11 pm calls with the next day's staffing emergencies. I have always been a marketer by trade and now that is what I get to do all the time."


©2019 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only.