Can We Talk

Publisher Sue Hodgson Talks With Business Entrepreneur and Sidney and Oak Bay SeniorCare Owner Shauna Dorko

After years in hospital administration and working in various home support agencies, what were some of the deciding factors in starting your own company: The SeniorCare Group of Companies in Sidney and Oak Bay?
I wanted to start an agency that could provide total quality of care that encompassed all the unique needs of seniors, enabling them to live independently in their own homes. I felt that their needs were not being completely, or effectively, met by any one agency.

What was then, and still is, key to us as a “complete” homecare agency was the provision of
1) consistency of care providers,
2) customizable service to each individual’s specific needs, and
3) excellence in quality of care and to make this care affordable to all.

We wanted to make sure that Sidney and Oak Bay SeniorCare provide the most comprehensive care available at the most reasonable cost.

Having been on the Board of Directors for Beacon Community Services for six years, I understand the intricacies and the constant development of high quality care it takes to provide the services you do with your company. What would you say was the most challenging part of starting your business nine years ago?
The most challenging part was the care and attention it took to build our distinct identity, so that the community would not only know of us, but trust us, and that as a result we would be the agency people would call upon to provide home support for their loved ones. This carefully-crafted identity, partnered with the superior quality of care we provide, made an unbeatable combination. And, certainly, partnering with a great advertising agency gave us the ability to work with professionals to custom build our brand which, we feel, is at a superior level in our field.

Our health care systems are always in a state of evolution, but in the last two decades we have witnessed a tidal wave of change that has swept across most components of the health care system. In fact, we are in a new era of health care, eCare, impacting care recipients, their families and friends as well as in-home service providers, but this period of change is just the beginning of a new era which will see the return to in-home care, just as the home was the setting for health care in the last century. How do you think this will impact your business in the next 10 years?
It is true that the health care system is ever changing, and that home support continues to be a main focus in our industry. VIHA and other agencies such as DVA, ICBC, etc. are working very closely with home support providers to facilitate the smooth transition to complete in-home care for seniors which benefits all involved and prevents long hospital or facility stays. It goes without saying that one-on-one care in the home is definitely the preferred and most comfortable option.

As far as our business being impacted, this return to in-home care will result in even faster growth for our agency. It will be very exciting to see how in-home health care will evolve over the next few decades. As you yourself have noted, one thing we certainly are aware of is how home support has come full circle.

As you continue to look at ways to expand the company, you’ve also looked at developing partnerships locally: finding ways to build a better community. Tell us a little bit about your new partnership with Panorama Recreation and how this came about.
We approached Panorama Recreation Centre last summer with the vision of providing our senior population an outlet that could be of benefit to body and mind, to bring together all ages in our community to participate in the various programs that Panorama offers, which are extensive. Our health care aides are now accompanying our clients to the Centre, assisting them to participate in activities they might not have otherwise been able to do, such as swimming, skating and yoga. The socialization aspect is a crucial element as well, helping to keep the mind active and provide a healthy social element to their lives.

As you know, we are celebrating Women To Watch in this issue, a month-long celebration happening across the world for International Woman’s Day on March 8th. If you were able to give some advice to women, of all age groups, what would it be?
Passion, Education, Commitment, Belief and Strength. I feel these five words lead to a successful career no matter what it is. Independently seek and achieve this on your own, if able. Then you’ll have full control of all that you do. Believe in yourself and you will gain the strength you need to look beyond the conformities that inevitably come with being a strong, independent woman building a successful business. Be aware of your particular strengths and focus on fine tuning and perfecting them. And, remember always, to look outside that proverbial box.

Your company is the largest private home support agency for southern Vancouver Island, with over 150 field staff. Considering the dramatic expenditure growth in your industry, what’s on the horizon for your company?
We will continue to expand our offices so that we are able to meet the needs of the rapidly growing senior population. What is also important to me, though, is the fine balance between healthy growth and growing too quickly. We always want to, and must continue to, keep the excellent quality of care we provide throughout each and every location. I continue to look for ways to be able to enrich the quality of life in our aging population and their families as well.

You have an incredible inner passion for what you do. What motivates you to wake up every day, and do what you do?
Each and every day provides a new challenge to me with our ever-evolving health care system and the unique needs of our growing client base. We must never stop learning and bettering ourselves to be the best we can be. Seeing the happiness in seniors’ eyes when their quality of life is improved substantially, and knowing in your heart that you can make that difference in their lives, keeps me going, striving to make their lives easier and more comfortable.

After all, we are all getting older, right?

Photo by Editing by Kelli Brunton.

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