Home care company thinks local - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 2:00 pm

Not all businesses are suffering these days. In fact, a new home care business in Ahwatukee Foothills is trying to make sure it doesn't grow too fast.

The Neighbor Ladies, a small Ahwatukee-based non-medical in-home care company, has grown exponentially since it jumped into the industry a little more than a year ago, said Valerie Sanders, owner and founder of the company.

"I almost have the reins on it, because I don't want it to grow too fast for the wrong reasons," she said.

Like other home care companies, The Neighbor Ladies provides for people who are in need, such as seniors, new moms or people recovering from surgery, Sanders said. The employees do housekeeping, meal preparation, grooming and medication reminders as well as take their clients out for lunch or activities.

"We're kind of like the mom, sister or aunt that you wish you had available, but they're either 2,000 miles away or busy," Sanders said.

The Neighbor Ladies sticks out, however, because it is much more flexible than other in-home care companies, and it is small, local and personal, she said. While other companies may specialize in only seniors or children, Sanders said her employees go in everyday and just jump into whatever their client needs.

Also, since the business tends to mostly Ahwatukee residents, it has more of a community focus than a national franchise, she said.

"All of our clients are our neighbors," Sanders said. "We see them in the grocery store."

The company has six employees and 12 full-time clients, with many more who call for certain events, such as an appointment or if a new mom goes out, she said.

Sanders noted that the company is always adding employees, however. Every time she puts an ad out, she gets a plethora of calls from potential caregivers.

Sanders said some of her employees are certified caregivers, while others are qualified by experience. Everyone has to be CPR and first-aid certified.

The company charges $17 per hour, with a two-hour minimum stay, according to the company's website. This is slightly lower than the national and Phoenix average of $19 per hour, according to the 2008 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth Financial.

Sanders, 50, of Ahwatukee, left her career at Charles Schwab as a financial advisor last year to start The Neighbor Ladies.

"I have been just belated," she said. "It's such a blessing to me to have an opportunity to help people."

Sanders was inspired by her grandmother, who died 10 years ago after 11 years of suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Her grandmother, Miss Sue, always helped people, and was referred to as the neighbor lady, giving Sanders her company name, according to a news release.

In the future, Sanders said she wants everyone who wants home care to get it. Often, people do not want to go to assisted living, because they do not want to leave their homes or their pets.

"I want The Neighbor Ladies to be the first thing people think of when they need help," she said.

Jolie McCullough is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.


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