Scam Prevention And Therapy Dogs: How Franchise Owners Are Setting Their Home Care Agencies Apart

This article is a part of your HHCN+ Membership

Home care agencies that are part of larger franchise networks get to reap the benefits of operating under established names and reputations. But that doesn’t stop franchise owners from thinking up various ways to stand out in the crowd. 

Franchise owners at companies like Always Best Care, Right at Home and Griswold Home Care are doing this by offering services that fall outside of the norm.

At Griswold Twin Cities, this means incorporating therapy dogs, Scout and Ruby, into their care services.


The idea to bring therapy dogs into the mix started because of Griswold Twin Cities Owner Nicole Myhre’s love of dogs. She began working with Canine Inspired Change — a Saint Paul, Minnesota-based non-profit organization — to put Scout and Ruby through therapy dog training.

“Most people, I know, like animals,” Nicole told Home Health Care News. “It really was just a matter of wanting to have animals around us, and then the support that they bring to our team.”

The Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-based Griswold is a home care franchise. It provides personal care services in 30 states. Nicole co-owns Griswold Twin Cities with her husband Brett Myhre.


The agency brings therapy dogs into initial assessments and bi-weekly hospital visits. Brett noted that feedback from Griswold’s clients has been extremely positive.

“Some of these people no longer have a dog, whether because of where they live, or because they’re not able to care for an animal anymore, but they are still animal lovers,” he told HHCN. “We’ll get calls from some of our clients, wondering if we can come out and just do a quick home visit. We’ll bring the dogs out to do visits with people that don’t have the opportunity to have an animal anymore, and it just brightens their day.”

Brett and Nicole have also seen the advantages of having Scout and Ruby when trying to connect with the community.

“When we’re at community events, and we have a booth, or something like that set up, it’s definitely a good icebreaker to get people to come up and talk to us,” Brett said.

Parkinson’s support

Always Best Care of Central Connecticut has separated itself by getting heavily involved in the Parkinson’s disease community. The company has leaned into educating people about what to expect with a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.

Taylor Lajeunesse — the director of operations at Always Best Care of Central Connecticut — began working with the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA) in 2022.

Always Best Care of Central Connecticut decided to lean into Parkinson’s as an area of focus when the company started seeing an increase in clients coming in with the disease.

“A lot of our clients that have Parkinson’s are actually our VA clients, through their community care network,” Lajeunesse said. “These are mostly Vietnam veterans, because they were exposed to Agent Orange and different toxins that they think are associated with Parkinson’s. I’d say about 10% of our clients are VA, and maybe about 25% of them have Parkinson’s.”

Roseville, California-based Always Best Care is a home care franchise company that operates across 225 territories in 30 states and Canada.

Though the New Haven area has a lot of these different Parkinson’s programs through Yale University, areas like Hartford and Tolland did not, according to Lajeunesse.

“For somebody that’s coming from our area, that can be anywhere from a 45-minute drive to an hour and a half drive,” she said. “For somebody with Parkinson’s, it’s not practical to be taking an entire day to go for a doctor’s appointment or an hour-long program. We’re really trying to bring that up this way, with the help of the APDA and their program coordinator.”

Last year, the Central Connecticut location rolled out a web page that shared information about what to expect at each stage of Parkinson’s disease, as well as what services the agency suggested. The site also includes video content.

Lajeunesse is also in the process of starting a new support group in town.

Plus, the agency talks to clients and their families about the APDA and all the resources the organization offers.

“A lot of our families don’t really know where to start,” Lajeunesse said. “I think in being able to be that guide, we’ve had families that are really appreciative of those connections we can make.”

Avoiding scams

Scams and scammers have become a popular topic for documentaries and true crime podcasts, but Right at Home Orlando wants to ensure that its clients aren’t targeted.

Seniors are often targeted by scammers. In 2022, there were 88,262 fraud complaints which led to $3.1 billion in losses from individuals aged 60 and older, according to the National Council on Aging.

Though Right at Home Orlando doesn’t have a formal scam prevention program, the agency helps educate its clients in order to protect its clients from financial fraud and other scams.

“As a home care agency, we’re very opposed to elder abuse and people taking advantage of seniors, so all of our caregivers have always been trained to look for the signs of any of those situations,” Nikki Magyar, owner and president of Right at Home Orlando, told HHCN.

For example, during past tax seasons, the agency has been able to spot when people who were meant to help their clients file were taking advantage and charging exorbitant fees.

“They think that the elderly person is not going to balk at it because they’re more polite, or that they’re not tech savvy, so they won’t even notice,” Magyar said.

Magyar has also seen situations where people have entered their client’s life for nefarious reasons.

“We’ve had a few cases, sadly, where people have a boyfriend that is asking them to wire money, or brings into the bank a lot — we’ve had to advise the family that this person has become part of [our client’s] life,” she said.

Caregivers at the agency have also been trained to screen suspicious phone calls where the person on the line is claiming to be someone who they’re not, such as IRS agents.

Ultimately, it’s important for individual franchise locations to live up to the company’s standards while also going above and beyond.

“You want to make sure that you’re following the franchise’s lead, but then you also want to make sure you’re doing the most dynamic thing you can and taking it up a notch,” Magyar said. “You want to make sure that you’re doing your part for the community around you.”

Companies featured in this article:

, ,