HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE Franchise Nightmare: Everybody Loses

(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

COMFORT KEEPERS Caregiver Bilked Elderly Man

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

Franchise Consultant Sean Kelly 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.

8 thoughts on “HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE Franchise Nightmare: Everybody Loses

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  • November 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    This is a very unfortunate scenario and scary at best. I do know that Home Instead does extensive background checks on potential franchisees. These franchisees are given a great responsibility to assure they are placing qualified trustworthy caregivers in the home and they are given the tools to do so. It is very disappointing that these particular franchisees neglected to take this responsibility seriously but I applaud Home Instead for acting swiftly and taking that privilege away. As we move towards baby boomers aging out we need these reputable agencies to assist our elderly at home. I am a nurse with extensive home care background. This one bad apple shouldn’t make all bad. I wonder if the BBB or ombudsman were notified of initial complaints and what follow up was done?

  • January 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    There are dozens of complaints on the Internet about Home Instead franchisees. The recurring themes are (1) Former employees who say people are hired without background checks and receive no training, and (2) Former clients who complain about incompetent, lazy, or dishonest employees.

    My brother was victimized by a Home Instead employee after the Veterans Administration contracted with the company. On a day that he was being transported to a hospital for emergency care, the employee and her boyfriend went through his house, stole jewelry and clothing, stole checks that were later forged, and obtained his Social Security Number which was used to apply for several credit cards. When I discovered the theft, I contacted the local Home Instead office immediately. Instead of questioning the employee, the manager told me that their employees could not possibly be involved in such things, and I needed to look elsewhere for the thief. The employee was subsequently arrested and charged with three Felony counts of forgery. I’m sure my brother was not the only victim, but the franchisee never bothered to talk to police or other clients who may have been ripped off. They preferred to simply fire the employee, say nothing, and hope the problem would go away.

  • June 21, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    My in-laws are presently stuck with the Home Instead in midtown Manhattan. The people who take care of them directly are fantastic, compassionate, and capable. But the franchise owners are the sleaziest of vultures, in it only for the money.

    Eldercare in this country is one of the nastiest money-making industries since slavery.

  • August 13, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    Unfortunately – there are stories like this about seniors who reside in nursing homes….assisted livings….and even there are instances of private Caretakers taking advantage of seniors. There are many scams that happen door to door and over the phone that can affect seniors. Unfortunately mistakes can happen and this is sad but there are good facilities out there that care for seniors and Home Instead is a good company. It is important that families be involved in the care of their loved ones so that these instances can hopefully be prevented or these predators can be caught!

  • March 20, 2016 at 5:09 am

    My husband has Alzheimer’s and I hired a caregiver from an agency. One of the first questions I had for the agency was….”Do you do background checks.”
    Well, to make a long story short, the second time I had the caregiver over to the house, she sent my husband downstairs,(We live in an apartment on the second floor.) by himself to get her coffee!!! She then stole jewelry and gift cards from me!!!!! While my husband was out of the apartment!!!! You better believe I called the police and reported it, I also contacted the Human Services agency. I do hope for the best that they catch her and send her to jail. One can only hope! The reason I know this……I came home early and saw my husband, by himself in the hallway. I will NOT ever get help from that agency again and I will alert everyone of the terrible agency that is. I’m having locks put on ALL bedrooms and I’m getting a surveillance system in the house in the future. I do want to know what goes on when I’m gone. It is definitely the only way to go, sad, but true!

  • February 18, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    I own a company that cares for seniors. It is a big responsibility and requires owners to work day and night overseeing get their company. The biggest problem is see….when a caregiver who has a squeaky clean background is suspected to have been dishonest ( over 15 years I have suspected this to have happened 5 times). The very first thing I do is suspend my caregiver and call the police. I will not tolerate dishonesty! In each instance, the police did not find any illegal behavior. Well, I did not feel comfortable with suspecting my caregiver being dishonest. So I terminated all 5. I had to pay unemployment ( which is better than placing them with another client) and one threatened a lawsuit.

    Everyone of these caregivers went on to work for other Senior Care companies. It is absolutely ridiculous! I looked into starting a site where a list could be developed regarding who is suspected of theft…however this is illegal…if the caregiver is not found guilty, or even if they were found guilty there cannot be a list maintained of those who should not work in people’s homes.

    A few years back each owner performed their own backgrounds on their caregivers. I did not allow any background on anyone from anytime. NOW, we are not able to view our caregivers background. We simply get a “yes” the caregiver can work, from the state. I’m not sure how I know this, but the state does alow backgrounds…one is pot, and another is the writing of bad checks. They overlook these 2 backgrounds after a certain period of time. In my opinion, no amount of time should erase any illegal behavior. In my opinion I continue to hit roadblocks when it comes to trying to provide the safest caregivers possible. This is all because other owners of senior care companies weren’t doing what they were suppose to as far as backgrounds go. So the state took over and believe they are more stringent. In general they are, however I was as stringent as I could be…these new regulations are too lax for my company.

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