Local News

A New Approach to Senior Care

November 30, 2009, 03:30 AM By Christopher Leydig
Andrew Scheiner/Daily Journal
Director of Operations Rick Bowman and Lisa Thomas of ComForcare.

Enduring economic straits often drives confidence into the dirt. Indeed, it’s an attrition that can grate the heartiest perseverance into fine mulch, yet there are still those who generate optimism even in the most pressing states. They’re typically the first to pave a path to recovery.

Scenarios like this seem to be a caveat for Rick Bowman, an affable entrepreneur whose proactive approach to business has served him well over his lifetime, particularly within the last six months as he opened a new senior services center with Michigan-based ComForcare (pronounced come-for-care) Senior Services.

“I’ve always wanted to own my own business,” said Bowman, current director of operations at the ComForcare Redwood City office, whose territory spans from Belmont to Palo Alto and down the coast to San Gregorio. “A crisis is a shame to waste. This is a fine time to reinvent yourself.”

Previously Bowman worked as a customer service manager at multiple high-tech companies including IBM and Apple, before losing his job in a recent downsizing at Sun Microsystems. After that, his initial ideas for continued employment spanned the entrepreneurial plane. Opening a barbershop, or even a pizza joint were not out of the question before he learned about ComForcare.

“I’ve always been customer-service oriented. Every job I’ve had is the job I wanted,” said Bowman, recalling his early career. “My big dream was getting into the tech industry, but after seven to eight years, it becomes heartless.”

Nevertheless, a steady stream of optimism flows from Bowman. At age 53, his hearty laugh and enduring smile is exactly the kind of attitude sought after for those in his philanthropic field. Dedication to providing independence, dignity and quality of life to recovering and aging adults is now both his, and his caregiver’s motto.

His employees must pass a rigorous three-stage interview and screening process to be hired. Bowman mused that only about one in 10 make it through the entire process, so you’ve got to be assiduous to make the grade.

After applying, there are two interviews, one over the phone and the other in person. If those go well, candidates are then administered the National League of Nursing standardized test, which they must pass with 80 percent or higher. Finally a skills assessment is given to determine where employees will be best suited.

“It was the hardest interview I’ve ever had,” said Lisa Thomas, one of Bowman’s first caregivers whose job experience began at a retirement home. “It was worth it though. I love working with elderly people, they’re adorable.”

Thomas admitted that she loves forming bonds of trust with those with whom she works, but that the jobs mobility is definitely a plus as well.

“I can’t say enough good things about it,” said Jeanne Steenberg, a 90-year-old woman who has been with ComForcare for around eight weeks. “It gives me comfort that’s for sure.”

Santos Martinez, Steenberg’s caregiver, is greatly appreciated as indicated through both her written and spoken praises.

“Santos is doing a great job. The meals she prepares for me are delicious and healthy. We’re a good match,” wrote Steenberg in crisp, legible cursive. “If I need anything, she’s there,” she added over the phone.

Bowman believes that for many, it’s a dream to be in one’s own home as long as possible, but it’s got to be realistic, a contingency that’s not always possible. Still, home care has become an attractive alternative to many families with aging loved ones, not simply because of the affordability, but its inherent independence as well.

“I don’t want to be in a retirement home,” Steenberg said emphatically, irked by the ideas of global meal, wakeup and activity times. “It’s too structured for one thing ... . I want my kids to come and visit any time at home.”

Bowman currently directs over 20 caregivers within his jurisdiction who provide non-medical home care that includes physical, social, health, hygiene, housekeeping and respite activities to clients, though supplementary services for retirement homes, hospital recoveries and nursing mothers are also possible.

Retirement was feasible when Bowman took the position, but admittedly, he wasn’t ready to settle down just yet.

“I’ve got a place sitting on a golf course in Florida and it’s tempting, but I’m not ready for that,” said Bowman. “I would probably get bored in a few years. I love the people, and that’s the reason I’m doing this. You do things for the right reasons and it will all come around.”

For more information call 474-0000 or visit www.comforcare.com.

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