For the past five years, Westchester Family Care (WFC) has provided personalized at-home care for seniors who are aging in place in Connecticut. The Mamaroneck-headquartered home care company is now setting its sights across the state border in establishing a presence in lower Fairfield County.
“I’ve always had Connecticut in the back of my mind in terms of being able to leverage the same workforce, especially caregivers that are located in Westchester that could come over to southern Fairfield and vice versa,” WFC President Glenn Lane said. “Over the last year or so, I started to actively recruit Connecticut-based CNAs (certified nursing assistants) who want to be able to work in both states.”
WFC’s services include assistance with daily activities such as laundry, errands and housekeeping, transportation, social engagement and companionship and nonmedical home care.
“Our caregivers are all certified home health aides supervised by registered nurses,” Lane said. “We established a home health aide training program up in Katonah to help transition people who weren’t in the business at all and also to transition CNAs to add the home health aide certificate.”
Lane pointed out that Westchester and Fairfield counties share “very similar demographics in terms of densely populated, affluent consumers of my services, as well as adjacent to markets where there’s a good supply of caregivers.”
But in setting up operations in Fairfield County, Lane observed that Connecticut’s regulations for his industry differ from those in New York.
“Most of the agencies in Connecticut are companion homemaker agencies,” he said. “So, there’s a little bit less health regulation on that part of the business. There are certified agencies that take Medicare and that have a nursing component, but I’d like to see if I could fit in between in terms of the scope of companion homemaker with a bit added supervision and a higher credential to work.”
WFC has also focused its services in the northern Bronx and served some clients in Rockland County, although he found the latter market “more difficult” to get caregivers to go to. The company’s licensure also covers Long Island, although Lane admitted that was arranged “mostly to facilitate people that wanted to go to the Hamptons with my caregivers.”
Lane is planning to establish a Fairfield presence within the next six months and WFC is already marketing itself to prospective clients in this market. While a deeper expansion into Connecticut is not on the drawing board at the moment, Lane speculated it was possible to expand into northern Fairfield County and farther east within the state.
WFC’s planned expansion is coming at a potentially perilous time as the rise of the Delta variant has created a surge in Covid-19 cases and renewed concerns about reinstating pandemic protocols. Lane reported WFC is paying its workforce to get vaccinated against Covid, but at the moment he is not making it a prerequisite of employment.
“If I do a mandate — and I am leaning towards it, but I’m not there yet — it would be all new hires would need to have the vaccine,” he said. “So, regardless of what happens with my legacy workforce, at least we’re bringing on people that have it.”
As for WFC’s clients, Lane said that the company initially pushed for vaccinations and found they were “extremely receptive” to getting their shots, due to their age and health conditions.
“The caregivers still are wearing masks around clients — that hasn’t changed,” he continued. “We’re doing daily screenings of both caregivers and clients for any symptoms. We incent caregivers not to go to work if they’re not feeling well.
“So, if they screen and they’ve got potential issues, they’re being paid as if they went to work — we don’t want the caregivers to feel any financial pressure to go to work sick or to worry about missing work because of the vaccine reaction or the time it takes to get the vaccine.”