Agency offers state's first home care referral service
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.