Fifth award during three years in business
By Allen Payton
Pacific Senior Care Services, LLC owned by Antioch resident Kelly Gonzales, has been selected for the 2016 Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award in the Home Health Care and Senior Services organizations categories by the Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program. This is the second time since 2014 that Pacific Senior Care Services has been selected for the awards.
Each year, the Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program identifies companies that the organization believes have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Walnut Creek area a great place to live, work and play.
Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program and data provided by third parties.
“I’m honored to receive these awards, in just our third year of business,” said Gonzales. “We strive to meet elder needs with love and compassion, as our slogan states.”
They place seniors and others in care homes and senior facilities, offer senior care referral services, as well as senior insurance services through their affiliated company.
This is Pacific Senior Care Services fifth award since she formed her business in April, 2014. They also received the 2016 City Beat News Spectrum Award bestowed on companies for their excellence in customer service.
About the Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program
The Best Businesses of Walnut Creek Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Walnut Creek area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.
According to Larry Adams, Senior Pastor of Golden Hills Community Church in Brentwood and Antioch, the following updated statement about the Thanksgiving dinner they served in Antioch, last Thursday, and the possibly linked illnesses and three deaths, was posted on the church’s website on Tuesday night:
This past week we were alerted to an outbreak of illness in our community that could have been related to our annual Thanksgiving meal served in Antioch. Golden Hills Community Church has been seeking to help meet this need in the community for over 30 years with meals served to many thousands of people. As the week unfolded, we met with Contra Costa Health officials seeking to assist them in any way possible to determine the source of the illness. The preliminary evidence seemed to point away from the food that we served to over 800 people that day.
Our greatest concern has been twofold. First and foremost we are grieving for those who have lost precious loved ones and for those who have endured this illness. The loss of life is a human tragedy that no amount of investigation can undo. While we do not, even now, know who these individuals are, this has not stopped us from grieving and praying diligently for these families.
Secondly, we have wanted to hear from the Health Department their determination of the real cause of this illness, regardless of our connection. Truth will help prevent future occurrences of this type of illness and perhaps keep others from having this horrible experience.
We still do not have any conclusive word from County Officials regarding this matter. We continue to do what we can to help with the investigation that is ongoing. Evidence that once pointed away from the meal that we provided to so many, now seems to point back that direction. We will continue to await the final findings, to pray for all those affected, and offer to do what we can to help those who are hurting. We thank those who have joined us in prayer and ask you to continue in your efforts.
The church’s website is www.goldenhills.org.
By Allen Payton
As a Registered Nurse for 35 years, Constance Tolbert knows what it means to serve the needs of others. She got an early start in health care by serving as a candy striper while a school girl in Connecticut.
“She was born to care for people,” said husband and co-owner James.
Her service in the Army Nurse Corps brought her to California in 1982 when she went on active duty. Then, after being in the reserves, her medical unit, the 6253rd, was activated and transferred to the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm in 1990. Constance served in Fort Carson, Colorado, replacing a nurse who had been deployed.
After briefly retiring in 2013 from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, she wasn’t done helping others and chose to work as a traveling nurse for a year.
Then in 2015, after being inspired by her mother who had owned a residential care facility for the elderly, Constance and James chose to buy a franchise of Seniors Helping Seniors.
“It was divine intervention,” Constance said. “We liked the mission of the company, which is based on Mother Teresa’s life work of serving others.”
The founder of Seniors Helping Seniors, Karen Yocom had worked with the soon to be Catholic Saint for 14 years in India.
“What also inspired us to go with this company is they have a different marketing model to reach seniors,” James shared. “Based on our previous work at our church, everyone we dealt with there were seniors. So, we liked the idea of hiring seniors to help other seniors.”
Their definition of senior is anyone age 50 or over for both the caregivers and the clients.
Since starting their franchise, which covers a territory of Concord to Discovery Bay, and including all East County communities, they’ve grown to a multi-cultural staff of 40. They include seniors from Puerto Rico, Guam, Fiji and Philippines, as well as others who are Japanese, African American, Hispanic and Caucasian.
“We can provide a caregiver so that people can be cared by those from their same culture,” Constance said.
“We cover the rainbow,” said James, who adds his years of experience and Masters Degree in organizational management. He’s also an Air Force veteran who currently works for the U.S. Department of Labor.
Most of the caregivers work part-time, as they’re either retired or in their second careers. Their clients range in age from as old as 98 and some as young as age 52.
“We try to match clients with senior caregivers with similar life experiences,” said James. “We had one client who was a Gulf War veteran. So, we were able to match her with a caregiver who is a fellow veteran and knows all about the VA in Martinez.”
They have a special program for low-income, military veterans or their spouses, called VetAssist which taps the Aid & Attendance benefits they qualify for.
“We’re able to access those benefits, quicker than if they were left to just go through the VA system,” James shared. “That could take six to eight months. We’re able to get it done in one or two months.”
“It’s critical for us to provide services to veterans, because they’re a forgotten group,” Constance said. “It’s definitely an honor for us to serve our fellow war time veterans who served this country.”
The services Seniors Helping Seniors provide include companionship, meal preparation, transportation for doctor appointments and others, light housekeeping, personal grooming and dressing, medications, showering assistance, and respite care for the main, family caregivers. Some seniors they serve have permanent disabilities, such as those who are blind, have dementia or are amputees, and are not ambulatory. Some younger seniors need help for temporary disabilities due to accidents, surgeries or injury.
“We have a transition program with hospitals, to reduce the readmission rate,” James shared.
“If a Medicare patient is readmitted within a 30-day period for the same diagnosis, they are responsible to pay the costs,” Constance explained. “With in-home care we are able to help them stay at home with the needed care, with such things as medication reminders, and proper nutrition. That’s critical, because so many who forget to take their medicine or don’t eat right, end up getting readmitted to the hospital.”
“Those costs can be as much as $5,000 a day,” she added.
“We’re able to help them avoid spending their savings and borrowing from their retirement account,” James said. “They could pay $30,000 at the hospital or just a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, with us. Plus, they’ll have someone who will provide them one-on-one care.”
The rates for the services of Seniors Helping Seniors are $26 to $28 per hour with a minimum of two hours per day, based on care needs. They also offer overnight stays and 24-hour care, seven days a week.
The Tolberts are also able to reach outside of their franchise territory to serve those who aren’t currently being served by a franchisee, such as in Martinez, and even San Joaquin Valley cities like Tracy, Manteca and Modesto.
Should you, a loved one or other senior you know have a need for in-home care, contact Seniors Helping Seniors 24-hours a day at (925) 698-6145 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free RN consultation and assessment. They are bonded, insured and licensed with the State of California, and are in compliance with the new regulations that went into effect as of January, this year. For more information visit their website at www.seniorcarebrentwoodca.com.
The week of March 21 – 25 marked Meals on Wheels of America’s “March for Meals Community Champions Week,” a national campaign to raise awareness about senior needs, especially around hunger and isolation.
As a member agency, Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services (MOWSOS) participated locally and invited community leaders to take part in meal delivery ride-a-longs to homebound, frail seniors around the county.
“We’ve identified 23 Community Champions, community leaders…delivering meals,” said Elaine Clark, Chief Executive Officer of MOWSOS.
They included District V Supervisor Federal Glover; Antioch Mayor Pro-Tem, Lori Ogorchock; Clayton Mayor Howard Geller; Martinez Mayor Rob Schroder; Pleasant Hill Mayor Sue Noack; Oakley Mayor Kevin Romick; Orinda Mayor Victoria Smith; Walnut Creek Mayor Pro-Tem Rich Carlston; Pleasant Hill Councilmember, Tim Flaherty; Concord Councilmember Dan Helix; Walnut Creek Councilmember Bob Simmons; Bay Point All in One President, Delano Johnson; Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff, Lt. Paul O’Mary, and Deputies Katie Rhoe and Matt Buckley; Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County Executive Director, Will McGarvey; Bay Point Municipal Advisory Council Member Debra Mason; American Medical Response (AMR), Public Information Officer, Alicia Moore and EMT’s Sarah Dotson and Jason Kalan; Dayna Wilson, Keller Williams Realtor.
“The services provided by Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services is critical,” said Glover. “I was very happy to help spread the word along-side these incredible volunteers.”
If you or your civic or community group, are available to help, please contact Carol Louisell, Director of Community Engagement at email@example.com or 925-954-8736. An on-line application, an orientation, and background check are required.