Home Instead Central Coast founders Jasmine Hopcraft and Chris Dawson
Being part of the ‘sandwich generation’ is tricky – ask anyone who is juggling the care of elderly parents with raising their own family.
For Home Instead Central Coast owners Jasmine Hopcraft and Chris Dawson, it inspired them to set up their own office of the global in-home aged care service in 2012, and this month they celebrate a decade in business.
There are plenty of reasons to celebrate, among them expanding to Newcastle in 2018, surviving a pandemic, keeping 200 staff in jobs and caring for more than 350 families.
“We experienced the care needs of our own parents while bringing up our young family, and so many of our friends had parents who had retired and continue to retire in the region – not a single one of them wished to leave their homes,” Jasmine said.
“We knew there was, and still is, a real need for quality services that are flexible and tailored for each person and we were drawn to Home Instead. Our caregivers help seniors maintain their quality of life, in their own home and give their families peace of mind – knowing their loved ones are safe and independent.”
Jasmine, who was in March named Business Person of the Year in 2021’s Central Coast Local Business Awards, said the team had worked hard to become the preferred choice for home care on the coast, and it was a privilege to deliver such an essential service to the community.
“We genuinely get pleasure and satisfaction when we see a marked improvement in the health and wellbeing of a client and the relief and delight from their family,” she said.
Jasmine and Chris’ 30-plus year careers working for corporate Australia in technology, finance and the media helped fuel their desire to bring their ‘customer first’ service and brand experiences to the aged care field.
“As our population ages, the need for care is growing in our community and across Australia. The nation’s older generation continues to grow and by 2066, it is projected there will be just over 4.5 million people aged 65-74*.
“There is concern that this ageing of the population will put unsustainable pressure on public spending, with particular concerns about rising health costs and the ability of the health system to serve the increasing numbers of older people needing care.”
The shortage of labour during the Covid pandemic and in the current tight market is also an ongoing challenge for the industry.
“It’s a very competitive, tough employment market. Aged and disability care is a labour-intensive industry and the growing population of elderly Australians requires a body of workers trained to care for them. Skilled labour supply is an ever-increasing issue,” Jasmine said.
She said while navigating industry regulation changes on their business model of care had been difficult, they had drawn on the strength of their local team, as well as the resources and support of Home Instead.
Jasmine said along with caring for clients, the business prioritised welfare, training and support of their key team in the office and the care staff who are out working in the community, connecting with them with a ‘touch point’ support and check-in program and providing ongoing training and education.
The business was recognised last year as a regional finalist in two categories of the 2021 Business NSW Business Awards: Employer of Choice – Central Coast; and Excellence in Business – Central Coast.
One Central Coast family knows just how vital the home-care solution is. Jenny McKay is one of the office’s longest-serving caregivers, and has worked for Home Instead Central Coast for nine-and-a-half years. Her mother, Helen Hawkes, has engaged their services for two years.
At 86, Helen needs help around the home with domestic tasks including cooking and cleaning and said she would be “lost” without Home Instead.
“I wouldn’t be without them. It’s wonderful to be able to remain in your own home,” the former secretary, who retired when she was 60, said.
For her daughter, Jenny, a former flight attendant who recently turned 60, Home Instead means not only quality care and companionship for her mum with carers helping her at home, but also rewarding employment for her; Jenny works six days a week caring for several clients in the region.
“I love my clients, they’re all very special and making them feel safe and secure is a real privilege,” Jenny said.
“Caring for someone creates a real bond and this is where relationship-based care is so special, you become like family.
“Working for Home Instead is incredibly rewarding, Jasmine and the team really care about their clients and their staff.”
Read more about Jenny and Helen’s story, below
With the official 10th birthday on October 22, the Home Instead Central Coast and Newcastle team is looking forward to celebrations across several days. A private screening of Everybody’s Oma, made by Central Coast filmmaker Jason Van Genderen, son of Oma, Hendrika ‘Oma’ van Genderen, was held for Home Instead caregivers, community partners and staff on Wednesday, October 12 at Avoca Beach Theatre.
Further events, where Home Instead will shout caregivers and clients a birthday lunch, include the Central Coast 10-year celebration Enhance Event luncheon on Wednesday, October 19 at Davistown RSL Club; and in Newcastle on Thursday, October 20 at Warners at the Bay.
For now, Jasmine and Chris remain focused on continuing to provide essential care to seniors in the region, and they look forward to their daughter Amee Dawson, the current Operations Manager, in future, stepping into the legacy they have built.
“Amee has earned her stripes and will step into general management of the business. The clients and staff love her, and she is totally driven to deliver to our exacting standards – in fact she improves things constantly,” Jasmine said.
“We can then take a more strategic role and ‘work on the business rather than in it’ to ensure that it thrives in the years to come.”
Jenny and Helen – a mother and daughter’s Home Instead journey
Caregiver Jenny McKay has been with the business for nine-and-a-half years and loves being able to make a positive impact on people’s lives.
A former flight attendant, Jenny joined Home Instead after stepping away from her career in the air to have children.
“I would take my children to the shops and see carers with clients and think, I could do that. I saw an ad in the paper when Home Instead Central Coast opened, and not long after I started working as a caregiver and I haven’t looked back,” she said.
“Ever since I finished school, I’ve always loved ‘old things’ – and I mean this in the best way – architecture, people, I love something that has a history and I love just talking to older people who have such wonderful stories to tell.”
One of those people who have stayed in Jenny’s mind is a gentleman she cared for over six months.
“I did housework for him, and we would also sit and chat, solving the problems of the world. He also loved to play the card game Cribbage – at 96 years old he not only taught me to play but absolutely beat me, every time,” she recalled.
“We also both loved cricket and his son would record it for us to watch together.
“Another 96-year-old man I cared for had almost lost his sight but he could still paint, beautifully.
“There are so many wonderful people you meet in this job who can do amazing things, and they all have their stories.”
Jenny’s mum Helen Hawkes, 86, has had Home Instead help at home for two years.
“My caregivers are wonderful, I don’t know where I would be without Home Instead,” Helen said.
For Jenny, the peace of mind of having carers help her mum at home is priceless and she feels confident leaving her mum with her colleagues.
In her role, Jenny cleans and cooks for her clients, and Helen said they are very lucky indeed.
“They all love her,” Helen said. “Especially her cooking, and so do I.”
When it comes to her favourite meal, there is a clear winner for Helen, who beams with pride when speaking about her daughter.
“Jenny’s roast chickens are the best – she makes them with orange, seeded mustard, and they are just amazing.
“They tried to sell me one of the cooked chickens at the supermarket but I told them, I couldn’t, my daughter’s roast chickens are just too good.”
Cook Jenny’s roast chicken recipe:
1 raw chicken
2-3 cloves of garlic crushed or chopped
1 knob/tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
Big splash, approx. 1/4 cup of soy sauce
Large tablespoon of honey
2 heaped tablespoons of seeded mustard
Stuff your chicken with one orange that you have cut into segments.
Lay the stuffed chicken on thin slices of the second orange.
In a small saucepan add the juice of the third orange to the remaining ingredients (you can add more juice if you like).
Heat until honey has melted and ingredients are combined.
Baste your chicken with this, liberally.
Cover chicken in foil and bake in a moderate oven for about 40mins, then remove foil and baste every 20 to 30 minutes until cooked.
With leftover marinade, add pan juices and a little plain flour to make a yummy gravy.
Serve with roasted or steamed vegetables.