Agency of­fers state's first home care re­fer­ral ser­vice

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Her Career - In­ter­view con­ducted by Lind­sey Wells

S upe­rior Se­nior Care was founded in Hot Springs in 1985 by Rita Hurst and Joe Pascual and be­came the state’s first home care re­fer­ral agency. Over the past 30 years, one of­fice has turned into 22 across the state of Arkansas. Pascual’s daugh­ter, M.J. Sherer, has man­aged the Hot Springs and Ben­ton branches for the past four years.

What is Su­pe­rior Se­nior Care?

MJ Sherer: We were the first registry of care­givers in the state of Arkansas. What we do is match up care­givers with clients. We han­dle Med­i­caid clients, we han­dle pri­vate pay, long-term care, VA, but we try to keep you at home. We can also go sit with you, like I’ve had peo­ple, if my mom is in the hospi­tal, I’ll have a care­giver go stay the night with her. So they can sit with them at the hospi­tals, they can take them shop­ping, there’s just all kinds of things you can do to stay at home. But we are a registry; they are not our em­ploy­ees. They are self-em­ployed in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors.

Do you of­fer live-in care­tak­ers?

M.J.: We can do live-ins, yes. We have to find them; they’re hard to come by, but we usu­ally have pretty good luck find­ing live-ins. I had a care­giver that lived with a client un­til she passed away, al­most two years.

How many care­givers are on the registry?

M.J.: There’s over 100 in Hot Springs. There’s prob­a­bly over 2,000 care­givers on the registry in the state.

Why did your dad and Rita start the com­pany in the first place?

M.J.: Rita had a busi­ness called Send Out Sit­ters, and she would send peo­ple to your home to baby-sit your dog while you were on va­ca­tion or that kind of thing. When dad was tired of do­ing what he was do­ing they sat down and had a talk and they saw a need for the el­derly, to keep them at home, and that’s how this thing popped up.

Since it’s a fam­ily busi­ness, have you worked at Su­pe­rior your whole life?

M.J.: No, I’ve been (in Hot Springs) since 1972, grad­u­ated Lake­side in 1974, was mar­ried to a horse trainer and trav­eled for years, thor­ough­bred rac­ing cir­cuit. Then, I owned The Tan­nery up in Board­walk Vil­lage for 11 years. While I owned The Tan­nery I put my­self through cos­me­tol­ogy for nails only and I started do­ing nails in the back of my sa­lon. So, when it be­came ap­par­ent that I was get­ting busier with nails, I couldn’t do both, so I sold the sa­lon and went on to do nails for 15 years.

What brought me to this busi­ness was in July of 2011 my brother passed away and he was the one that had this, and dad asked if I would con­sider do­ing it, so here I am. I’ve been with it four years.

Do you have a lot of con­tact with the clients?

M.J.: The Med­i­caid pa­tients I usu­ally don’t, but pri­vate pay peo­ple, I go to their homes, I fill out pa­per­work, I meet with them, I as­sess the sit­u­a­tion so that when I get back to the of­fice I can de­ter­mine on that registry which care­giver would be a good fit. We get to know the care­givers on a per­sonal level be­cause they have to come in, do ori­en­ta­tion, and the longer they work for you the bet­ter you get to know them. We will keep send­ing care­givers un­til we do get a good fit, but we re­ally haven’t had too much of an is­sue there.

With Med­i­caid, we have the R.N. that goes out and does the as­sess­ing be­cause they have to do a plan of care for the Med­i­caid client, and then she’ll come back, be­cause she’s ac­tu­ally the su­per­vi­sor over the care­givers so she has a good idea of who they are as well.

What’s your fa­vorite part of what you do?

M.J.: Since I came into this — and I never dreamt I would — it’s see­ing peo­ple get the help they need to be able to stay home. And I truly en­joy meet­ing peo­ple; I’m a peo­ple per­son. I cre­ated an event for care­givers — these care­givers are amaz­ing. This will be our fourth event this year where we feed them, en­ter­tain them. The com­mu­nity has re­ally got­ten be­hind me, giv­ing door prizes for these girls. This is their night to en­joy. Be­cause care­givers are the last ones that peo­ple rec­og­nize. When you’re tak­ing care of the el­derly, you see the el­derly per­son com­ing in, but you don’t re­al­ize who’s bring­ing them. That kind of got brought to the fore­front for me when I got in here and I thought, ‘Man, we have to do some­thing to rec­og­nize these care­givers.’ So I opened it up to Gar­land County, not just Su­pe­rior Se­nior Care. Al­most 200 care­givers show up for the event, and it’s free of course.

What’s your least fa­vorite part?

M.J.: When peo­ple pass away. That ab­so­lutely gets me ev­ery time, when we lose them. That’s hard.

What have you learned work­ing in this in­dus­try?

M.J.: Tech­nol­ogy. Be­cause we’re on com­put­ers, we’re on e-file, and it’s just crazy how up­dated things are get­ting and how even the state is re­quir­ing pretty soon to have care­givers with elec­tronic de­vices that have to check in when they get to a client’s house. So I guess that’s what I’ve learned the most, and of course the rules and reg­u­la­tions with the Med­i­caid changes con­stantly. The in­dus­try changes con­stantly.

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