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Hinsdale company lends a helping hand

Home Helpers caregiver Barbara Krasny feels right at home in the house of Harry and June Kanta of Westchester. Krasny spends five mornings a week caring for Harry and helping out around the house.  |  Sandy Illian Bosch/Sun-Times Media
Caregiver Barbara Krasny spends five mornings a week at the Kanta home in Westchester, providing care and companionship for Harry and respite for his wife, June.  |  Sandy Illian Bosch/Sun-Times Media
June Kanta, right, said caregiver Barbara Krasny has become like family to her and husband, Harry.  |  Sandy Illian Bosch/Sun-Times Media

Even before a Home Helpers caregiver began making regular visits to June and Harry Kanta’s home, the Hinsdale company had done a lot to help the Westchester couple.

During an initial visit to design a customized care plan for Harry, Home Helpers co-owner and registered nurse Mary Doepke suggested that some of his dementia-like behavior could be due to dehydration.

“She was right,” June said. “He started drinking more and he got so much better.”

That kind of personal attention and genuine concern are things the Kantas, along with more than 100 other clients, have come to expect from Home Helpers, a franchise started nearly nine years ago in Mike and Mary Doepke’s Western Springs home.

The company has since moved its headquarters to Ogden Avenue in Hinsdale, where it, like the home care industry itself, continues to grow.

Mike Doepke said Home Helpers is in direct competition with dozens of other companies offering similar services. To compete, Home Helpers’ caregivers have to be the best.

“Our biggest asset is clearly our people,” he said.

Home Helpers is licensed by the state, and all caregivers undergo an extensive background check and drug testing. They also receive a minimum of eight hours of training each year. All caregivers and clients have access to the company’s nursing staff, and supervisors make frequent visits to check on both the caregivers and their clients.

Caregivers are available to run errands, prepare meals and do housework. They also can help with personal care tasks such as showering, feeding and dressing.

While striving to offer the best care, Home Helpers also is working to expand on the services it offers.

“I try to ask myself, ‘What more can we do for our clients?’” Doepke said.

One answer to that question is to provide healthy, home-cooked meals through an agreement with Casey’s Market in Western Springs.

“They prepare the meals and we deliver them,” Doepke said.

In addition, Home Helpers will soon offer nursing care, and the company is preparing to offer remote monitoring equipment that will allow trained professionals to monitor a client’s vital signs and even check to see that they’ve taken their medication.

Sally Kruse of LaGrange Park said visits from Home Helpers are as much for her as they are for her husband, Don, who has Parkinson’s disease and mild dementia.

“It allows me to get out and to do the things I enjoy. That’s important,” Sally said. “I have complete confidence. I am able to go out without a worry.”

Doepke said it is not uncommon for his company to see a surge in calls for help around this time of year. As distant sons and daughters gather for the holidays, they might notice that Dad isn’t moving quite as quickly as he did the last time the family got together, or that mom doesn’t seem to be remembering things like she used to.

Help and peace of mind, Doepke said, are just a phone call away.

For the Doepkes, the desire to care for those in need goes beyond making a living in the growing, competitive home care market.

“It’s a tremendous responsibility. These people are us, if we are lucky enough to live that long,” Mary said.

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