March 8, 2011
(Unhappy Franchisee.com) – by Sean Kelly Home Instead Senior Care of East Bridgewater was paid $3000 per month by the family of 80-year old Joseph Guarino to care for the decorated Korean war veteran.
The Home Instead franchise sent Debra Belcher, aka Debra Blair, 29, – a woman with a history of passing bad checks who had been fired by another Home Instead franchise – to care for Guarino.
According to news reports, Belcher allegedly left Mr. Guarino unattended for hours in a locked car. Unbeknownst to the Guarino family, police say Belcher also was stealing money from her elderly client, as well as jewelry and tools that she and her husband pawned. She may have even taken Guarino’s war medals from his uniform.
When the family complained about Belcher, the Home Instead Senior Care franchise (owned by Richard M. Sasso and Harriet C. Sasso of Brockton, MA) reassigned Belcher to an elderly couple named Sergio. According to police, Debra Belcher went on to steal cash, jewelry, and silver flatware from the 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s and her husband.
The new caregiver assigned to Joseph Guarino by Home Instead Senior Care of East Bridgewater was caught on video stealing food.
In franchise nightmares like this, everybody loses.
Home Instead Senior Care has terminated the East Bridgewater franchise owned by Richard and Harriet Sasso for their “multiple lapses in judgment,” according to company spokesman Dan Wieberg.
The Home Instead Senior Care franchisees lost their business.
50 to 65 Home Instead employees lost their jobs.
65 Home Instead clients lost the help they thought they had, and the trust they thought they could put in what they thought was a respected company.
The non-profit agency that recommended Home Instead to Belcher’s victims – Old Colony Elder Services – has lost credibility.
The Home Instead Senior Care franchise brand and the reputation of its franchisees nationwide has certainly been tarnished by the negative publicity brought on by its franchisee’s allegedly unscupulous, thieving employee.
The negative publicity is a blow to the industry as a whole, and to the contention that hiring a national senior care franchise provides enhanced trustworthiness and safety.
Worst of all, the victims and their families lost more than possessions as they suffer the anguish of being preyed upon when they were at their most vulnerable.
The loss of freedom to be suffered by Debra Belcher, aka Debra Blair, and her husband once the criminal and possibly civil courts are done with them can certainly never compensate for the harm they’ve caused nor the pain they’ve inflicted.
Related stories: LIVHOME Senior Care Franchise Rocked by Caregiver Theft Scandal
Is this an isolated incident? A Home Instead Senior Care problem? Or tip of an industry-wide iceburg?
Home Instead Senior Care claims to be “the leading provider of in-home, non-medical senior care worldwide,” “the most respected name in the industry,” and “the most trusted source of home care in the world.”
If that’s true, and this could happen to the industry’s most trustworthy company, it’s a scary situation indeed.
The fact is that there are people out there who feel no hesitation in taking advantage of those who are most in need, whether they are draining their bank accounts, stealing their war medals or prying gold from patients’ teeth.
They are psychopaths. They have no conscience. They feel no remorse.
The growing senior population desperately needs protection from scammers and thieves like these.
If franchise companies like Home Instead Senior Care and their competitors wish to be the providers of that protection – without undue government interference and regulation – they will have to provide more effective protection than the Guarinos and the Sergios received.
Related reading: LIVHOME Senior Care Franchise Rocked by Caregiver Theft Scandal
ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE FRANCHISE? HAVE YOU HAD EXPERIENCES WITH THEM OR OTHER IN-HOME CARE PROVIDERS? SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW.
Sean Kelly is a writer, Internet publisher and marketing consultant with more than two decades of franchise experience. He can be contacted at seankelly[at]ideafarm.net.
To contact UnhappyFranchisee.com, email UnhappyFranchisee[at]gmail.com.