Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Helping the elderly live at home focus of new business

Published on

COVID-19 has meant more families than ever are trying to keep their aging parents at homes and out of long-term care facility.

So says James Chalmers, co-owner of a new home-care service for seniors that opened in Sarnia on June 1.

Families are scrambling to do whatever it takes to keep mom and dad home and avoid the risk of institutional outbreaks, Chalmers said.

The pandemic is also prompting a new phenomenon in which families are pulling parents from retirement and long-term care facilities, he said.

All of which has created demand for services like Home Instead Senior Care, the franchise Chalmers and wife Victoria own and operate at 327 Wellington St. in Mitton Village.

“We opened at the height of the pandemic to help seniors stay safe in their homes,” said Chalmers.

Home Instead has 1,200 offices around the world, 45 of them in Canada.

The Chalmers already owned the London franchise, where they have about 170 clients and 145 staff. Some of those clients are in the Sarnia area, which was an open territory until they purchased it and opened an office here as well.

They live in Lucan, near London. He grew up closer to Grand Bend and has numerous family ties in Sarnia, including mom Sharon Chalmers, who is client care co-ordinator at the local office.

In less than three months the Sarnia location has attracted 30 to 40 clients and employs about 21 people.

Most clients hire a caregiver two to three times a week to help with non-medical tasks such as cooking, grocery shopping, housework, laundry, and getting to appointments.

Each visit must be a minimum of three hours and costs $32.95 to $36.95 an hour.

That means the average client is paying $200 to $300 a week for Home Instead Services. Those needing round-the-clock help pay about $800 per day.

It’s not inexpensive, concedes Chalmers, but many families can afford private home care, especially when they can’t be there themselves.

“Some families try to divide care among the siblings, and one might live too far away, so that sibling pays one of our caregivers to do the work they can’t do themselves,” he explained.

Many Home Instead clients have Alzheimer’s or dementia, which staff is specially trained to handle, said Victoria Chalmers.

Home Instead staff often complement the services provided through the government LHIN (Local Health Integration Network). Together, they can keep seniors at home and out of institutions for months and even years.

“Some seniors say they never want to go into a retirement home. We can help them thrive at home for as long as it’s safe and a good option for them,” said Victoria.

“We’re very flexible and work with our families to find out what’s most important to them.”

Only one caregiver is assigned to a client, whenever possible, so relationships grow and companionship is possible, she said.

Interestingly, some clients already live in retirement and long-term care homes and hire additional services, such as a friendly visit or help with outings, to augment those provided by the facility.

But most are at home and intend on staying there as long as possible.

Home Instead Senior Care in Sarnia can be reached at 519-913-1662 or visit

Have a great idea for a business feature?  Send it to [email protected].

More like this