Meet the “B” Behind this Local Home Care Service.
Dorothy may have said it first, but no one says “there’s no place like home” with more conviction than Barbara Schultz of MB HomeCare. For Schultz and her team that is much more than a clever tagline; it’s the foundation of their home health care business and the motivation for every aspect of the services they provide. This independent, family-owned and operated company matches elderly, ill and disabled persons with caregivers who provide everything from simple companionship and conversation to personal care, medication supervision, transportation and more, which enables clients to continue living in their homes.
MB HomeCare (MBHC) was founded in 2004 by Schultz (Barbara is the “B” in the name) and Mary Ward (she’s the “M”) after seeing their friends’ struggles to find compassionate and competent care for family members. It took a leap of faith to start a new career and open a business mid-life, but Schultz was convinced it was the correct path and a much-needed service within the community. The timing seemed right, too, since she was ready for a change after many years as a successful job recruiter while Ward, a registered nurse, was looking for a more managerial role in the medical field.
The business gave them both the opportunity to use their talents and training and fulfilled their shared vision to provide respectful and tender care for seniors and others who needed assistance to live independently. Schultz’s innate ability to match clients and caregivers, and her determination to make home health care relationships more personal and less clinical is the philosophy that’s still at the heart of MBHC. Fourteen years later it’s clear that her approach is effective, with the company growing to a team of 140 caregivers and a full-time administrative staff of 11.
MB HomeCare helps seniors and others with daily living activities, offering special support for clients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. In addition, the company provides respite care and hospice support to relieve those caring for an aged or ill family member, as well as assistance for disabled adults. Other services include transition care (from hospital or rehab to home) and hospital advocate (a caregiver is present during hospital stays to serve as witness and companion when family can’t be there.)
Each client is first medically assessed by a registered nurse, and a customized care plan is developed. That plan is adjusted as needs change, with families always highly involved and informed. A care coordinator, clinical services director, compliance manager and others ensure that every patient has the exact services they need, as they need them. However, it is the dedication to finding the right caregiver for each client that sets the MBHC business model apart.
The company’s process for pairing patients with home health aides includes a thorough background and credentials check as well as a training program. But MB HomeCare also has a unique consideration when matching a caregiver with a client: personality. Schultz explains, “Inviting a stranger into your home to provide sometimes very intimate care is a scary thing, so there has to be a connection from the very start to build a trusting relationship. That connection must be forged not only between us and the caregiver, but also between the caregiver, the client and the family. That’s why we look for things like good communication skills and a sense of humor – because laughter can ease everyone through those unavoidable awkward moments.” She adds, “While certainly not a requirement, it is also very helpful if the caregiver has personal experience dealing with an aged or ill family member … and most of our caregivers do. Firsthand knowledge of a situation really helps build compassion, empathy and patience and generally results in treating a client as we would treat our own loved one.”
Perhaps that’s why Schultz credits her employees with the company’s longevity saying, “I’m only as good as the people I work with.” Most employees have been with Schultz for 10 or more years, many of them caring for some of the same people since they began, which means they are all like family, too.
A health crisis necessitated a caregiver for Schultz’s mother and reaffirmed why the MBHC way works so well. She elaborates, “No one can be there all the time, and words cannot describe the peace of mind it gives to know and trust the person who is caring for your family member. My mother prefers her caregiver to me some days, and that is 100 percent OK because I know it means the world to her to be able to retain some privacy and independence and not feel like a burden.”
In addition to knowing each caregiver and client intimately, Schultz also volunteers her time and expertise serving on the Board of Directors of GAIN (Geriatric Assistance Information Network), and as a member of the Senior Service Committee of Baltimore, the National Association of Professional Women and the Baltimore County Providers Council. As if all that weren’t enough, she is the facilitator of an Alzheimer’s support group in Harford County as well. Eldercare isn’t just her business, it is a calling and an enriching lifestyle for Schultz.
Of her success and what comes next, she jokes, “At some point I may become a client of my own company, but for now I am proud to be able to make such a positive difference in people’s lives.” Schultz concludes, “Getting old is hard enough, but surrendering independence seems to me the hardest part of it all. I think everybody should be able to stay in the familiar rooms they know with the belongings that give them comfort if that’s what they choose. There really is no place like home, and we are glad to be the helping hands that make staying there possible – no fairy godmothers or ruby slippers required.”