"We hadn't heard of [homecare for seniors] beforehand, so we stumbled on this little industry," said DeHart, who added that Nurse Next Door is now the largest homecare service provider in B.C.
"We also knew that the number of seniors would double by 2023, from 12 per cent now to between 20 and 23 per cent.
"We realized it would become a pillar of the health care system."
DeHart said they also realized that many companies in the homecare sector didn't provide such things as criminal record checks or proper insurance and training.
"For me, the business became a passion when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer," added DeHart. "I became one of his principal caregivers. That's when I really realized what our clients go through."
DeHart said Nurse Next Door began with six caregivers. "We started with two cellphones and a Starbucks [where interviews were conducted]. Now we have 1,100 caregivers -- full-time, part-time and casual. Our clients require [services] from two hours a week to 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
The average age of clients is 84 years of age, and they are predominantly women.
DeHart said 90 per cent of their employees are certified caregivers -- who require six months of training to learn how to deal with seniors -- and 10 per cent nurses, who manage the caregivers.
He said caregivers make between $12 and $16 an hour, and the company's nurses make above the union rate for the profession.
DeHart said they have invested a total of about $400,000 in the company so far, but he refused to say how much Nurse Next Door made in sales last year. "Our sales are up 50 per cent over last year," he added.
DeHart said he expects the company will make 50,000 home visits next year and 10,000 meals.
He said the business does not conflict with the Canada Health Act.
"We provide services the government doesn't provide. We send caregivers into the homes to help with everything from companionship to cleaning to personal care and palliative care."
Home management services, including house cleaning and grocery shopping, are also provided. Clients are typically charged between $19 and $21 an hour.
Although most clients are seniors, Nurse Next Door also provides services to people with disabilities, such as Vancouver resident Chris Marks, 32, who became a quadriplegic 10 months ago in a car accident.
"From what I've seen, they do well by me," said Marks in an interview about Nurse Next Door. "I don't have any reason to quit them."
Marks said he needs help for such things as getting out of bed, showering, dressing and meal preparation.
"Occasionally I've had an emergency and they managed to get someone in unscheduled. I've had [their] employees who've gone the extra mile. And my situation is a tough one for people to deal with."
However, Marks said that he's sometimes had problems communicating with caregivers whose mother tongue isn't English. "I've told them, and they've always taken steps to remedy it."
Meanwhile, Wong said in a statement that he is proud to be part of the organization.
"It will be exciting to help John and Ken grow the organization to a nationally recognized brand." – less–ZoomInfo