PIPESTONE - The mother-daughter team of Lisa and Alisson Hubers combined their home-care and nursing skills with their passion for helping people and opened a business to do what they love.
Comfort Keepers of Pipestone opened last November and is one of about 560 in the U.S., with its headquarters in Dayton, Ohio. It's a company that provides personal assistance and companionship to the elderly, new mothers, or any other adults needing assistance. Care is given as needed - hourly, daily, weekly, or on a live-in basis.
Alisson Hubers, a recent graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., heard of Comfort Keepers first and worked with them for a short while before becoming interested in opening a new branch. Her organizational skills ensured an efficient office and happy clients.
"After doing home health," she said, "I decided that's what I want to do."
Lisa Hubers has 20 years of experience in the field of health care and enjoys her working with Comfort Keepers.
"I heard her (Alisson's) excitement about Comfort Keepers," Lisa Hubers said, and was ready and willing to try it. She had previously worked at a Sanford clinic, which she said ran a much faster pace. There, she kept her clients for long periods of time, but was only able to visit with them for a few minutes at each appointment, she said. With Comfort Keepers, Lisa Hubers said, "you get to really know them (clients) as a person."
The pair didn't know they would be working together until they applied for the franchising and realized then that they would work as a mother-daughter team. They relished the idea of going to work every day with each other.
Gaining clients was the big hurdle after they got the business off the ground. They spoke to organizations such as Golden K, Christian Women's groups, nursing homes and hospitals, as well spreading the word through local advertisements.
Lisa Hubers said that word of mouth has been a good way of gaining more clients. Right now, Comfort Keepers of Pipestone has about 40 clients and 13 caregiviers in various towns in the area, including Lake Benton and Edgerton. The caregivers are the employees who actually visit the clients' homes and help them with day-to-day activities such as remembering to take medication, cooking, doing laundry, providing transportation, or bathing.
Now that they have Comfort Keepers firmly situated they are looking to grow. When they first opened, "we didn't know what to expect," said Alisson Hubers.
"There is a greater need than what we thought," Lisa Hubers said.
The two are thrilled to provide social connections and companionship, along with help around the house to those who need it.
According to a 2000 AARP survey, 82 percent of baby boomers would prefer to stay in their current homes, even if they need help caring for themselves. Sometimes it's hard for elderly to leave their house, Alisson Hubers said. She said, for example, "They may have just lost a spouse."
That is where Comfort Keepers comes in - the assistance allows clients to live at home and not have to uproot themselves while still receiving in-home, non-medical care.
"They need someone to talk to," Lisa Hubers said. "We hope to fill in gaps."
Her eyes lit up when she spoke of caring for clients.
"Elderly people are amazing - they have this whole story," said Lisa Hubers. "You're allowed a very personal window on their life." Caregivers become very close to the clients. All it takes, sometimes, is someone to listen to their stories.
"When you lose an elderly person," Alisson Hubers said, "you lose a library."
Working with people is what they truly enjoy about this job.
"This job has been really rewarding," Alisson Hubers said.
They both know they are making a difference in these people's lives.