Good home care brings comfort, privacy and self-respect. Greater independence, at a lower cost than a hospital or nursing home, can make a world of difference to the elderly or infirm, as well as to worried families. Increasing health care costs and the increasing number of people 65 and older are creating a huge demand for the home health industry. With careful planning and research, your agency can reach out to people who need you and sign them on as clients.
Check the viability of an agency in your area. Visit your local Small Business Administration and visit the U.S. Census Bureau's website for information on the demographics in your area to find out if there is local demand for your services. The Chamber of Commerce can help you find whether similar agencies are already at work in the area.
Write the text for your publicity material with two things in mind. First, people want home care so they can save money and maintain their privacy and independence. Second, clients' needs will vary, from help with housework and cooking, to assistance in bathing and dressing, to possible 24-hour care, including nursing and therapy. Put together words and pictures that show you understand and can meet their needs.
Make your presence known in print, online and on paper. Create a website, leaflets, posters, press releases and business cards. Choose high-quality print and website design to reflect the quality of your services. Consider hiring a marketing or advertising consultant, but shop around, as their costs and expertise vary enormously.
Arrange meetings with local health and community care professionals, such as hospital discharge planners, social workers and medical centre staff, who may refer clients to you. Leave leaflets in convalescence homes, hospices, clinics, pharmacies and adult day care centres. Talk about your services at community events such as church or senior club meetings.
Advertise locally in magazines and newspapers, as well as on the radio -- but check the costs beforehand. Advertise nationally by registering with home care referral organisations, such as Home Care Profile, SeniorCare Marketer and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.
Build and maintain a good reputation by starting with just a few clients and doing a good job for them and their families. Word of mouth is one of your best free advertising strategies, and happy clients will recommend you to others.
There's no substitute for knowing the business inside out. Consider taking a home health aide course to gain experience in home care. Knowing what your staff experiences helps you tailor your services and hire good personnel. Ask your staff to wear a smart, distinctive uniform so your agency is noticed around the community.
Home care is more than a business opportunity -- it is a calling, a deeply personal service. Hire only people for the agency who are dedicated to giving compassionate care to those who need it most.