Story and photo by Jason Chandler, Staff Writer
Not every health care agency is accredited by the Joint Commission, but BrightStar Care operates with this distinction.
“It’s an accredidation that hospitals have to have, but very few home care companies would pursue because it’s hard work and it’s expensive,” said Ken Fearnow, president and administrator of BrightStar Care.
In 2013 Fearnow and his wife, Jannie, opened the private non-Medicare franchise agency in Edmond.
“Our slogan is ‘A Higher Standard of Care,’” Fearnow said. “What we hope to do is ensure a higher quality of life.”
The Fearnows believe that because of the types of services they provide that it is essential to hold themselves accountable to the highest quality of standards provided in the industry.
BrightStar serves the greater Oklahoma City metroplex by offering home care and medical staffing. A full range of services are provided in a client’s home, providing that they are well enough to stay at home and don’t need to be hospitalized, Fearnow said.
“It might be companionship and keeping people safe in their homes to people who don’t need a high level of personal care needs,” he said. “They just need safety and some help around the house, maybe light housekeeping and just preparing meals for them and those things.”
BrightStar also provides personal care services to people with a higher level of needs. They might have been discharged from the hospital and need some support in their house. Maybe they can’t get out of bed and they need help with transferring, walking and showering, Fearnow said.
“We also provide skilled nursing services,” Fearnow continued. “That would be anything from providing injections and withdrawing blood all the way to wound care.”
BrightStar also provides infusion therapy for certain types of patients.
“We like to hire people who have a heart for the work that they do,” Fearnow said. “And it’s kind of hard to test for until you get them in the field, but most of the people that are in this business are so because they have a lot of compassion. They really do it more for the satisfaction of helping other people.”
The nursing staff ranges from registered nurses to certified home health aides and certified nurse aides. These aides must have been certified for at least a year before BrightStar will consider hiring them.
“We just feel like they need to have some experience either working in a facility or working as a nurse aide before we want to put them with our clients,” Fearnow said. “We also require that they have CPR certification.”
There are also federal and state requirements for the nurse aides to have a 50-state criminal background check as well as checking the OSBI sex offender registry. They must also have a drug test and a negative tuberculosis test.
“We competency test them in various areas depending on the type of client they are going to see,” Fearnow said.
Members of the staff are in the business to enrich people’s lives, which is the focus of person centered care.
“They do it more for that than they do for the money,” Fearnow explained. “We have some caregivers — I can think of one in particular — who with more than one client we’ve had in their final hours; they’ve been holding hands and praying with them.”
Providing company is important to people who are mostly homebound or transferred with lifts and with varying degrees of disability.
“They require different expertise and different types of care,” Fearnow said. “To ensure this better quality of care, we try to match the likes and dislikes of the client with the likes and dislikes of the caregiver.”
Clients are contacted within 24 hours for feedback and to see if there is anything else that they need. Seven days later, the client is contacted again, followed by a once-a-month communication with the office. Surveys are sent to learn from the client how they are doing.
“We are in their home with them. We want to see how we are touching them at every stage,” Fearnow said.
Enriching the lives of other people by providing excellent care has also enriched Fearnow’s life.
“I always said, ‘The closer I get to the age of the people I’m caring for — and we have several that are about my age — the more important it is for me to provide the quality of care to them and the dignity I would want for myself.”
“It’s been a very rewarding business for me. My wife and I have enjoyed it very much.”