Steve Darley’s desk is covered in a mix of games and puzzles. These aren’t toys to while away an afternoon with, but cognitive therapy tools used to stimulate neurological plasticity in an effort to delay cognitive decline. “The Cognitive Therapeutics Method™ is one of the key things that sets us apart from other home care providers,” says Steve, while packing up a shoelace tying exercise that challenges both neurological and finger dexterity.
Each of Steve’s 50 home care workers is given one of these bags, stuffed to the brim with activities that are not only fun, but beneficial to maintaining sharp cognitive functions. Steve is the owner of Home Care Assistance and adamant that he’s not just there to make sure someone’s basic needs are met. "I want to help ensure a higher quality of life,” he says. Engaging his client's mental faculties is just one of the ways Home Care Assistance cares for their clients.
“We’re not the agency to call if you want someone to sit there and watch TV with your mum,” quips Steve with an English lilt. The owner of Toronto Home Care Assistance bought the business in 2014 after years of working in the hospitality industry. “I’ve always had a passion for service,” says Steve, who completed his business degree in the UK and worked his way around the world managing restaurants and hotels. “The server listening skills still come in handy,” he jokes.
But listen, he must. In order to pair a client with the personal support worker that's best for them, Steve listens not only to the clients needs, but he also assesses their unspoken needs. For example, if someone’s a real chatterbox they’ll likely enjoy being paired with an equally loquacious home care worker. Should someone love to cook, but they’re unable to tackle Julia Child without a little help, Steve will make sure to pair them with someone who shares their culinary passion.
Toronto Home Care Assistance offers all its employees access to an online university, which offers over 100 courses. The courses run the gamut from the proper way to lift a person safely to how to care for a person with dementia. Just as there is a huge range of courses, Home Care Assistance caters to a wide range of clients with a variety of needs. The team works with widows and widowers who are adjusting to running a household and need a hand with grocery shopping and appointment keeping. They are also tasked to work with clients with mild to severe dementia, Steve explains that really, there is no standard client. That's why the team offers both live-in care (24-hour care) as well as hourly based services (e.g. an afternoon pop-in as often as is necessary).
Sometimes concerned children contact Steve, wanting to ensure their mom or dad gets the care they need, while still maintaining their independence. Occasionally Steve even gets walk-ins. Recently, an octogenarian popped by the office for a quote on how much it would cost to have a live-in care worker to accompany him to his cottage in the Muskokas for the summer. Whatever the situation is, Steve’s goal is to find the perfect match for his clients.