Myths & Realities of Starting a Home Healthcare Business

by David Goodman
in Blog
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In recent years, home healthcare and non-medical personal care have become some of the fastest growing and most popular business opportunities available. The perfect storm of an increasingly aging population – an estimated 20 percent of Americans will be over 65 within the next 15 years – coupled with the desire of most people to remain in their homes as long as possible, has convinced many new and experienced entrepreneurs of the potential opportunity.

And yet, there is still a good deal of misinformation that exists.  Here is a look at some of the common myths – and realities about starting a personal care or home healthcare business: 

  • I have no background in medical care and I wouldn’t know where to hire people with the right background to care for elderly, frail people in their homes.  First of all, a relatively small percentage of those who own non-medical home care businesses have previous experience in the industry.  Many, in fact, have a range of different specialties – sales, marketing, education, law, finance and health care.  In addition, while it’s imperative to send companions into the homes of elderly and frail people who are trustworthy, reliable and capable of helping them with their Activities of Daily Living (bathing, grooming, feeding), running errands, doing light housekeeping, and offering companionship, they don’t require any degrees or certification.
  • I don’t want to wait months or years to get licensed. One of the attractions of non-medical personal care is that in most states licensing can be done quickly.  Government regulations, at least right now, are limited.  Conversely, in some states, it can take years to get the proper licensing and/or certification to become a medical home care agency (providing skilled medical care to patients including nursing care, rehabilitation or hospice care).  This is why some home care agencies start off doing exclusively non-medical care and later add a home healthcare business component.
  • I wouldn’t know how to start my own agency and I can’t afford to buy a franchise in the home healthcare industry.   This is one industry where there is a third option – joining a membership organization.  While the cost of a franchise can run, on average, over $60,000, many of the most successful membership organizations have an initial fee of about $20,000.  They provide the same kind of training, discounts on insurance, and help in licensing as the franchises – without the upfront cost, royalty fees, or loss of independence. 
  • I’m not a natural-born salesperson.  Yes, you do have to be able to sell your service; however, you’re not selling used cars or garments, but rather the kind of service you would feel good about offering to members of your own family.  You’re educating families about the benefits of companion care and giving them confidence in your agency’s ability to keep their loved ones safe and happy.  In addition, you’re targeting health and elder care professionals – hospital discharge planners, geriatric social workers, staff at independent senior living facilities – who want to know they can rely on your service. 
  • I have family members who would be candidates for non-medical home care, yet they’d never allow strangers in their home to care for them, regardless of their condition.  That’s why it’s their adult children who are the primary audience for the services provided by a home healthcare business. These are people who would normally serve as their parents primary caregivers but because of work and family schedules or distance, are unable to assume this responsibility.  Meanwhile, for personal and financial reasons – an assisted living facility costs far more than non-medical home care – they want to keep their parents at home in safe hands as long as possible.