When Phil Schmidt’s aging mother suffered a double concussion, it seemed to her that the healthcare industry was not functioning like the process-driven companies he had been involved with. The former head of a car dealership therefore started his own business, SeniorKare.
“I told my wife, you know, we did a better job of integrating people into our dealership’s after-sales service than some of these companies do with human lives when it comes to on-boarding. care staff and ensuring that a plan is in writing, ensuring that there is a code of ethics to follow and standards to be set, ”said Schmidt.
Schmidt formed SeniorKare in 2014 to make sure his company has these elements. He used the pros and cons of his mother’s experiences to develop the company’s code of ethics.
“We are not this no-show society,” he said. “We are not that late company. We are not a gatekeeper business. We are a care company. We believe in the active engagement of people in the daily activities of life and living.
Eight years after its inception, SeniorKare has approximately 200 employees and serves approximately 100 clients in Arkansas and northern Mississippi. It is entirely paid for by the private sector. Salaries are determined by the types of tasks caregivers perform and the number of clients they serve at a time. He does not use contract labor because he wants clients and caregivers to have relationships based on continuity and consistency.
Schmidt recruits his own caregivers. During the onboarding process, he shares with each new employee the company’s code of ethics, which includes not to abuse the cell phone. Once the employees are on board, Schmidt tries to remain accessible and available. He said he had received 3-4 calls from caregivers that day.
“I have seen in my own personal experiences that it is very rare, if not nonexistent, for the caregiver to even know who the owner of the business is, let alone be interviewed by that owner and that owner be in able to reflect the culture of the company. and what would be the employee’s expectations. … My feeling has always been that if you want to have a good external customer, it starts with a good internal customer, ”he said.
The company serves a variety of clients. While some are at the end of their life and prefer to die at home, others only need a few days of care after recovery. Others only need part-time help preparing nutritious or companion meals to help them stay active. If clients leave their homes to live independently or with assistance, their caregivers often accompany them.
Schmidt retired at 58 when he started the business, but he wasn’t ready to leave the workforce. Previously, he had spent many years working in his family’s car dealerships. When that company was sold to United Auto Group, he remained in a business for five years and then owned the DirectBuy savings clubs in Memphis and Little Rock. After selling these to junior partners, he went to work as vice president of sales for the DirectBuy offices for three years.
He was working as a consultant in Chicago when his mother, Marian “Tootsie” Schmidt, suffered a double concussion in an accident at her home in Magnolia.
Schmidt believes the personal care business model will continue to grow. Hospitals are looking to move people to their homes. COVID has accelerated the tendency for people to want to live in the safety of their own home.
He called the business “the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my career, honestly.”
Schmidt, 65, said he learned from his experiences that death has definite and consistent stages. Marian passed away last January at the age of 92 after a two-and-a-half-year battle with bulbar ALS. He said he was ready to watch her go through the process.
“Personally, it made me realize that this is only the cycle of life, and that what I considered to be this great mystery and this question mark and a little scary is now quite miraculous, and it is a more standardized system than I have ever thought of, ”he said.