In September 2015 my wife and I quit our corporate jobs and started creating a new organisation that would change the lives of people in the community. Focusing on social integration of vulnerable and isolated people who really just want to get out, meet people and have a good time. This is my story:
Life was pretty great, I was 25 and had been living in Sydney with my girlfriend, Jenna for 2 years. I am originally from a small town just outside Montreal, Canada. I had a great job at a big bank and had worked my way up to a managerial position. Then my life completely changed at the end of 2011 when both my parents were diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. This was particularly hard for me as I am an only child and they were living in Canada.
At 74 years old my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was going to weekly chemotherapy treatments at the local hospital. These treatments took a toll on his mental and physical strengths. He could no longer do things he had done all his life, like driving, walking long distances and skiing. Luckily, he had my mum as his primary carer. My mum, 54 years old at the time, had always been the rock of our family, a super bubbly and energetic woman who had countless passions and interests. Our extended family and I all relied on her for help or advice and she was taking very good care of my dad until September 2012. Suddenly, a vicious brain virus called Herpes Encephalitis turned her into a vegetable state.
I went to Canada for a few months to help them out. It was the middle of winter, -20 degree temperature, I would drive my dad to the hospital where he would get chemotherapy on the ground floor and I would go visit my mum on the third floor as she was recovering. It took two years but finally my dad was cleared from his cancer and my mum was able to be independent after having learnt to do everything again – walking, eating, brushing her hair, dressing and all the other little things in life.
Once they had fully recovered Jenna and I moved them to Sydney so that we could be close to them and help them out more. As an only child, it became difficult balancing full time work with two adult dependants. I started working a second job as a PT to afford the nurses, medical bills and their other expenses. But that meant I wasn’t able to spend as much time with them as I would like and, being independent people, they wanted to go out – to the beach, the shops or just for a walk. This was challenging as they both had short term memory difficulties and weren’t able to get their bearings in a new city. I would actually spend a few hours a day on the phone with them directing them how to get home, and they even stopped a few random cars and asked them to take them home (which was terrifying).
Then a friend who was in between jobs offered to take them to the beach. They took the bus with her, went for a walk and a coffee and afterwards they couldn’t stop talking about how much they enjoyed it. After she went back to work we tried to find someone to continue taking them out but weren’t able to find anyone who was trustworthy and passionate on the internet and after speaking to care agencies we wouldn’t be able to afford the high prices they charged just to go over for a coffee.
Jenna and I quickly realised there was a massive gap in the market. I wished there was someone who could check in on my parents, look out for them and help with everyday tasks. It wasn’t just about making sure their medical needs were being met, but more about someone who cared about their well being and safety when I couldn’t physically be around. Someone to take them out to the beach, help them with groceries and simply be a friend.
Our objective was to implement our organisation so my parents could benefit. Unfortunately, my father passed away in December 2015 and we launched Home Care Heroes on January 31st , 2016. Now our vision is to continue to provide peace of mind to people like myself and to create friendships and give support to people in the community like my dad, so that people can get a little bit more out of their life.