Throughout 2020, we will be highlighting the Queen Silvia Nursing Award partners that bring the scholarship to life in their respective regions.

Currently in its 6th year, The Queen Silvia Nursing Award motivates nursing students in Germany, Finland, Poland, and Sweden to contribute to the quality of life and care of the elderly and people living with a dementia diagnosis. We are very proud to announce that a fifth country, Lithuania, will join the program as of this fall 2020.

The Queen Silvia Nursing Award is made possible with the dedication and commitment of partners with a firm focus on the growth of nursing talent and nursing opportunities.


We spoke with the Mike Boyer, COO of Home Instead Senior Care International Markets about the growth of the organization, the role of caregivers as essential workers, the current covid-19 pandemic and the future of healthy aging-in-place.

Could you please give us a brief introduction to Home Instead Senior Care?

Home Instead Senior Care was established out of the desire to help founder, Paul Hogan find a way to help a much-loved family member find a sustainable way to enjoy life in the comfort of her home during what were supposed to be her last days. With the relationship-based care and social engagement provided, she went on to live 10 more years and enjoy life past the age of 100.

Paul and his wife Lori realized that this was an option that would be attractive to many other families. This initiative ultimately led to the founding of their company, Home Instead Senior Care in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1994.

“We serve the elderly population wherever they call home, and our focus is always to provide the highest quality of care.”
Mike Boyer, COO Home Instead Senior Care International Markets

Image credit: Home Instead Senior Care)

Since then,  the Home Instead Senior Care franchise network has expanded from helping families in the local community to now more than 1,100 offices from Germany to China providing in-home senior care in 14 countries around the world.

We serve the elderly population wherever they call home, and our focus is always to provide the highest quality of care.  We do this by listening to client’s needs and tailoring support to their preferences.   We build personal relationships  between the CAREGivers, clients and their family members.

The services we provide have changed over time. There are specialized needs that we equip Home Instead CAREGivers so they are can better assist older people living with conditions as complex as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, arthritis, Parkinson’s, diabetes, depression and other conditions. Our professional CAREGivers are in constant communication with clients and their families to ensure the services offered continuously meet their needs and preferences.

Tell us more about the home care sector in general. What challenges are there within this type of elderly care service? How can families benefit from home care?

Today, many families aren’t aware of home care services, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of older adults around the world prefer to remain at home as they age.  The need and understanding about home care is gaining momentum, notwithstanding the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Swedish government’s recent commitment to invest 2.2 billion kronor in training caregivers for the elderly is a commendable first step in elevating the caregiving profession.”
Mike Boyer, COO, Home Instead Senior Markets International
 (Image credit: Home Instead Senior Care)

As we age there is an understanding of the inevitability that your circumstances narrow your realm of experiences. You might not be able to visit the shops with ease, or you might not be so comfortable having friends around if you haven’t been able to keep up with housekeeping. This is the way societies are set up today; options considerably narrow if you lack the support with the activities of daily life – including the choice of where to live.  And yet, such a sensitive question such as living options is too quickly set aside when people age and start to become frail.

That is why home care is a very cost-effective option for the world’s rapidly ageing population, and an excellent way to ensure safe aging-in-place for as long as possible. By allowing our loved ones the option to stay safely at home, they are in a familiar environment, comfortable in their surroundings and this is important to support healthy aging. This peace of mind, that your loved one is safe and being cared for, is beneficial for family members as well.

The greatest challenge within home care, and actually any sort of care involving the elderly or the vulnerable, is that while caregiving is important and necessary, it is still seen as menial work in many countries. This essential social role remains undervalued, and yet every country is in desperate need of the people, competence and skills to work with the older people.  The Swedish government’s recent commitment to invest 2.2 billion krona in training caregivers for the elderly is a commendable first step in elevating the caregiving profession.  

We are dedicated to enhancing the perception of aged care and are working to elevate this discussion in everything we do. We need to demonstrate that caregivers are not just vessels to get tasks done but view our Home Instead professional CAREGivers as important facilitators to a life lived well by the clients. This relationship-based work should not be underestimated or undervalued, because it is built on the fundamental trust and dignity between people who need help, and people who can provide that support.

What has remained constant throughout the 25+ years since Home Instead’s establishment?

Relationship development is central at Home Instead Senior Care  – to us it’s personal – and not just between CAREGIvers and client, but also with the family members. This is essential because when people are dedicated to building solid relationships with each other, then we can really understand how we can help each other the best way possible.

Loneliness and social isolation is particularly high amongst the elderly population. This is something that has been amplified by the current Covid-19 pandemic as well. The relationship-based home care that our CAREGivers provide is an experience that is beyond the functional assisted actions of daily living (ADL). Home Instead team members aim to facilitate the maintenance of much needed social connections like meeting friends, going out for a cup of coffee or visiting the cinema. Our outcomes-based model is built on flexibility so we can focus our efforts on what matters most to the client and family.

In some countries, depending on the funding model established by local authorities and social care policy, time with clients has been drastically reduced. This means that there might be instances where a maximum of 30 minutes is set aside to visit a client, dress them and get a meal on the table. That is frequently impossible to achieve.

We stipulate that visits need to be a minimum of 1-hour . This provides time for the care to be delivered with dignity and a trusted relationship between the CAREGiver and client can develop.  Our core mission is to enrich our clients’ lives and encourage a life lived well. Through continuity of care, we empower CAREGivers and clients to build strong relationships.

“Through continuity of care, we empower CAREGivers and clients to build strong relationships.”
Mike Boyer, COO Home Instead Senior Care International Markets.

(Image credit: Home Instead Senior Care)

Recently a CAREGiver was able to learn the back story of one of her clients, a 90-year-old lady who loved horses in her younger days. There were a number of photographs of her with horses that seemed to give her much joy. So, her Home Instead CAREGiver arranged a visit to the local stables to make some new memories.   Our elderly population deserves respect, and we need to work together to let them know that they still matter, and are welcome to participate actively in all of society’s opportunities.

What kind of people are you looking for at Home Instead Senior Care?

Our network is looking for empathetic individuals, with a giving nature, who want to work with older people,  and are eager to make a difference. Typically, these individuals have been caregivers to family members and come to us on their own accord. These are people who see caregiving as an honorable, desirable and meaningful profession that has a real impact in their communities.

That community element is important as well. We empower our franchise owners to “give back” to their neighbors and community. We create information, training and resources for them to share their knowledge and expertise. For example, they might hold family workshops or business briefings to  increase dementia awareness in their community. And we understand that while it might be impossible to care for every single person with needs, Home Instead can provide knowledge though our local owners to families looking after their relatives. In this case, we are truly mission-based in that we want to disseminate  information, compassion and skills to the greater society so we can all give better care for our aging family and friends.

One of our franchise owners was a nurse . She went through the entire process of securing her nursing degree, and earned credits working within homecare agencies. But while her theoretical and clinical skills were very sharp, what she prized the most was making personal connections. Relationship building wasn’t something she could do easily as a nurse with an array of patients day-in and day-out. But as a Home Instead franchise owner, she builds lasting connections with clients and their families .

“We are truly mission-based in that we want to disseminate  information, compassion and skills to the greater society so we can all give better care for our aging family and friends.”
Mike Boyer, COO Home Instead Senior Care International Markets
(Image credit: Home Instead)

How do you ensure quality and standards with a franchise business model?

We have found a way in which we can build a model that replicates the products and services in many different markets but of course leveraging local expertise. Home Instead franchise owners are very often public spirited themselves and keen to spread their knowledge and skills throughout their communities. We see them as local experts who know what might be required in that market and how care is typically provided within cultural parameters.

Having industry-leading standards for franchise owners to follow is very important to us.  Plus each international market has its own regulations and policies which must be followed.  While each market customizes training to address any regulatory or educational standards, the framework is centralized from our Global Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. We are very deeply committed to having a mission-based organization with culture and values that bind our network together and improves care services for the elderly worldwide.

How has the coronavirus outbreak impacted your daily work at Home Instead?

Covid-19 has revealed the frailties of traditional healthcare systems and prompted a rethink of solutions for the future. There is currently a legitimate fear around the inability to protect older populations socializing in public spaces, so they remain homebound for at least a little while longer. The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated that we have large populations of vulnerable people who have taken the opportunity to stay at home, but they need help and assistance to maintain their wellbeing and stay connected to wider society

A great example of our team’s engagement is with our colleagues in Shenzhen, China. During the lockdown, homecare services were suspended. Regardless, the team found ways to reach out and ensure client safety.  They called, checked in and did online exercise classes with clients. Elsewhere, we have dropped by while respecting social distancing rules just to ensure the clients we serve were doing well and coping in relative isolation.

What we are currently experiencing today is a good example of how vital home care service is for so many of our aging loved ones around the world. In most countries, Home Instead CAREGivers are considered as essential workers , so they continue serving the needs of vulnerable populations. It’s been a turning point for this sector, and has allowed us to show the benefits, sustainability and strength of homecare. 

Where does home care go from here?

Three major trends come to mind when I think about the future of home care.

Firstly, digitalization is going to be more critical in the years to come. Leveraging the aids that we have access to today, we can ensure there is an extra layer of attentiveness to safeguard and enhance a healthy aging experience for our clients. I don’t just mean alarms or detectors, but also monitoring aids for exercise so we can slow down the loss of mobility. Even nutritional monitors are extremely important, as uptake of nutrients is often more difficult as one ages. It isn’t difficult to image the enormous benefits for the clients if we are able to provide this extra level of care for them.

Secondly, the home is becoming the hospital of the future. With fewer people making their way into hospitals or health clinics, we need to rethink the traditional doctor’s appointment in safer and more service-minded ways. Telehealth options have grown exponentially during this time, and visits made by district health professionals are making a comeback. It will be exciting to see how things take shape in the future, and Home Instead wants to ensure that we’re there to help our clients prepare for these changes.

Lastly, competence will always be central to our mission. We have become very skilled at dementia and palliative care training over our 25-year history. We are dedicated to training team members in our relationship-based dementia care program. This is critical because across the world an increasing number of people are living with dementia and we must be prepared to meet this need with competence and confidence throughout the organization.

We provide our teams with training for every phase of the care continuum, from companionship and housekeeping, to end-of-life care. Our CAREGivers spend time facilitating mediations, hand massages and a lot of chatting – just very human experiences to elevate joy and happiness.  We also offer grief support for team members when clients pass.

“We have become very skilled at dementia and palliative care training over our 25-year history.”
Mike Boyer, COO Home Instead Senior Care International Markets

(Image credit: Home Instead)

Why does Home Instead Senior Care support the Queen Silvia Nursing Award?

We are proud to partner with Her Majesty Queen Silvia and Swedish Care International. Queen Silvia and SCI are worldwide leaders in advocacy, awareness and training on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The Queen Silvia Nursing Award is truly unique in the world, providing an opportunity for discussion and innovation that will improve care for older persons. There has never been a more important time in history for innovation and creativity in quality care for the elderly. We are honored to support and work alongside SCI and Queen Silvia to help meet the growing need for professional, compassionate care for society’s most vulnerable populations.