Company Profiles Franchise Philanthropy March/April 2023 Previous Issues

Giving Back: A Personal Touch of Care

Home Instead franchisee Greg Bechard is upgrading the senior care experience with new charitable efforts 

by Daniel McIntosh

The number of seniors in Canada is growing at a significant rate. As baby boomers age out of the workforce, more care programs that allow them to age with dignity will be required. Enter Home Instead. Since 1994, the company has been helping seniors age well at home, while providing much-needed assistance for families and caregivers. 

Greg Bechard knows this story all too well. As a child, he witnessed his mother’s involvement with social purpose organizations like Meals on Wheels. She encouraged him and his siblings to follow the same path. Today, Bechard and his sister operate a handful of Home Instead franchises across Ontario in Etobicoke, Mississauga, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Ottawa, Guelph, Cambridge, and Kitchener-Waterloo. 

With Home Instead, home care providers develop tailored plans to meet individual seniors’ needs, including Alzheimer’s and dementia care, nursing, and hospice support, while helping with everything from grooming, mobility, and 24-hour home care to meal planning and medication administration. “We’re trying to create an environment where all seniors can age at home, with grace and in a safe manner,” says Bechard. “So, it’s really our focus.”  

Above and beyond home care 

That’s why Home Instead has a series of supplementary resources that go beyond the typical scope of home care and ensure that the care continues, even after a worker’s shift ends. In addition to its core services, Home Instead makes use of grants, providing free care to seniors in need and using its nearly 30 years of name recognition to raise money for charitable initiatives like the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s. 

Home Instead franchisees are also rewarded for meeting key metrics with the company’s annual Founder’s Award. Bechard won the award last year, and in the spirit of giving, put the earnings back into the communities who may not have or be able to afford the services.  

“We distributed $120,000 to seniors in Mississauga and Etobicoke,” he says. “That money is directed to organizations in our local community, and generally, those are seniors that we’re not serving.”  

Portions of the money were contributed to the Alzheimer’s Society, Etobicoke Support Services, and CANES Community Care, another senior services not-for-profit organization. Bechard notes that even though their organizations run competitive services, spreading the wealth to a fellow senior care organization was a no-brainer. “Adult day programs are a great resource for seniors in all our communities,” says Bechard. “So, if we can get behind that and help support that, then that’s at the forefront of our thinking.” 

Over time, Home Instead’s philanthropy has turned it into a household name and provided companionship and improvements to the quality of life for seniors.  

A growing network for giving 

When it comes to innovative care services, franchisee-driven initiatives have been adopted by the entire franchise network, so members get a say on future care services that become national programs. The Pen Pal program, which began a few months into the COVID pandemic, was one such initiative. Throughout the entire Home Instead organization, staff members and volunteers of all ages wrote letters to seniors, finding companionship and common ground at a time when everyone needed it the most. Bechard says that it was special to see the organization follow a franchisee-led initiative. 

As for the future of Home Instead’s charitable efforts, Bechard says head office is starting to get creative and looking for ways to stretch the brand’s impact even further. “We want to do better; we need to do better. There’s an opportunity for us to create greater awareness.”  

For prospective franchisees interested in senior care agencies, rest assured that all necessary processes, like quality assurance and training, are taken care of with Home Instead. Beyond the necessities, franchisees who take “extreme ownership,” as Bechard puts it, for their business and their community, attract better clients and community members. 

“You’ve got genuinely motivated giving people who care about seniors, and I think that is part of the reason that leads to our tremendous success, is that we do it because we care.” 

Ultimately, Home Instead franchisees become community experts and are always open to feedback on services they provided or even services witnessed elsewhere. “Maybe you’re looking for an adult day program or you’re looking for transportation,” says Bechard. “If we don’t know somebody who can do something that’s required, I can assure you, we know somebody who knows which agency or organization can provide that support.”