“Give us a call if you need it and we’ll come running.”
That’s how Josie Coak sums up Charcare – Assisted Living Services for the Elderly and Housebound, her home-based business serving Campbell River seniors since 2012.
Coak, along with her staff, are empowering seniors by giving them advice along the way and, more importantly, helping them to continue living independently in their own homes.
“We are making the elderly advocates for themselves,” Coak says. “We’re giving them the power to make decisions.
“This is the goal – to keep these people in their home for as long as you can.”
Coak and her team aim to offer the care seniors need to have the peace of mind that they can maintain their daily activities in the comfort of their own home.
“We’ll do anything,” she says.
That includes personal care which ranges from bathing, shaving, clipping nails, and helping seniors get dressed.
Charcare also provides meal preparation and cooking as well as light housekeeping.
“It’s just where the need arises,” Coak says. “We fill in the blanks. We cover all aspects of daily living. We give them a lifeline.”
They’ll also give them a lift.
“We’ll take you shopping, we’ll take you to the walk-in clinic, take you to get your prescription,” Coak says.
It’s busy work for Coak who provides care 24/7. With 54 clients, it’s a lot of work so Coak has expanded from a one-woman operation to five, including herself.
But as busy as she is, it’s nothing compared to the life she left behind.
Coak immigrated to Canada in 2007 from Cornwall, England.
She and her husband were looking for a change of pace and a more relaxed lifestyle. She was working six days a week while her husband was working seven.
“In England you have to work really hard because it’s expensive,” Coak says. “I drove 156 miles each day and worked 12-hour shifts (as a nurse) in a hospital.”
Coak says while she loved the work, she didn’t enjoy coming home at 11 o’clock at night, only to have time to shower, go to bed, get up at four or five in the morning and do it all over again.
“I realized, ‘this can’t be it.’ And it wasn’t,” Coak says.
After coming out to Canada for a holiday, Coak and her husband decided to come back permanently.
They lived in Chilliwack until January, 2008 when they moved to Campbell River. The pair secured permanent resident status in February of 2011.
Coak made the decision to not return to formal nursing as it would require years of repetitive training so she registered to work as a care aide. She was hired as an on-call Registered Care Aide (RCA) by a local homecare service shortly after.
With the help of NIEFS, Coak soon decided to start up her own business which began with a handful of regular clients.
Since then, Charcare (named after the British term ‘char’ for a female house or office cleaner) has grown and is providing a valuable service to the community.
Coak says that can be in the form of something as simple as reassurance.
“We like to be reassured, no matter how old we are,” Coak says, adding that sometimes seniors get nervous being on their own because they don’t have the ability to do the daily tasks that come naturally to the younger generations. Sometimes they have questions that go unanswered because they don’t know where to start to find the answer.
Coak says one way she can help is to provide seniors with manuals and brochures put out by Campbell River Family Services.
“People just get lost along the way sometimes,” Coak says. “You’re not lost, we’re here to help you.”
Coak says what keeps her going is the satisfaction she gets when she puts a smile on someone’s face or she’s able to make a difference in someone’s life.
“One might hope that there’s a lot of happy people out there who are reassured that home is where they can stay.”