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Meet Marilou and Milton Schopper of Encore Caregivers

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marilou and Milton Schopper.

When founders, Mike and Nora Aden made the decision to take a step back from some of the day to day work of the business, they approached their friends, Marilou and Milton Schopper and asked if they would like to pick up the reins. Milton was a business consultant and had worked with Encore Caregivers and its predecessor company, Cameo Caregivers (also founded by Mike and Nora) since the ’90s. Marilou had diverse experience in public and private sector communication in Houston. But, more importantly, Marilou’s mom had passed away from Alzheimer’s, several years before and Marilou was fluent with the process a family is forced to go through when caring for an ailing loved one. Milton’s mother was in the early stages of dementia and her care was beginning to take center stage with his family. Mike and Nora and Milton and Marilou agreed that not only was the business skill set right, but the heart for senior care was on target, as well. Milton and Marilou came on board to lead Encore Caregivers full-time in 2016. They had been on board for only 3 months when the company passed its millionth hour of service. Headed firmly toward the second million hours, Encore Caregivers has raised the bar for in-home care.

Marilou and Milton suggest these questions to ask when looking for in-home care for a loved one. The answers will determine the quality of in-home care you can expect. Are you licensed by the State of Texas Health and Human Services Department? (Encore Caregivers is, of course.) Are your caregivers bonded and insured? (Encore Caregivers staff is, of course.) Do you have an in-house nursing staff to supervise the care given by the caregivers? (Encore Caregivers has two RNs and one LVN working to ensure the highest level of care.) Are you a franchise or are you born and rooted in Houston — family owned and operated? (Encore Caregivers has been a Houston success story since 2009 when the doors opened. Prior to that, Cameo Caregivers, Mike and Nora Aden’s first foray into in-home care, offered only the best in-home care to Houstonians. In total, our staff has almost 15 years of experience in senior in-home care. Great experience translates to great care.) How can we reach your staff if there is an after-hour emergency? (Encore Caregivers has a 24-hour line, manned by a staff professional, never voice-mail or an answering service.) What if one of your caregivers cancels, gets sick on duty or has a flat tire? Can you staff my loved-one’s schedule with another caregiver? (Encore Caregivers has a pool of well over 125 caregivers. The breadth and depth of this pool allows us to be able to help your loved-one regardless of the situation.) What screening process is a caregiver required to go through before being hired by your company? (At Encore Caregivers, each candidate goes through a personal, professional and criminal background check, driver’s record check, state misconduct registry check as well as a full credential discovery. They must next pass a competency exam. Upon passing their exam, they must present a current TB test, Texas driver’s license and proof of auto insurance and consent to drug testing. if they jump those hurdles, they will be called in for an interview with our care coordinators and nurse. Pending the okay from those staff members, the candidates will be invited to return for a roughly 3-hour orientation at which time they are familiarized with our policies and procedures. Only then can they earn the right to come into your home and care for your loved one.) What are the ways in which you monitor your caregivers’ level of service? (We honor and reward our caregivers with a substantial bonus program for proving to us and our clients that they are the outstanding professionals that we know them to be. We monitor and give our caregivers feedback on nine separate categories of performance. It keeps them sharp. We also underscore our professionalism through random supervisory visits during which the caregiver demonstrates fluency in the caregiver’s duties in general, and for their specific client. The visits are an opportunity for our caregivers to shine.) Do I have to sign a contract? (Never, at Encore Caregivers.) Do I need to give a down payment or advance payment? (Never, at Encore Caregivers.) Once a caregiver is assigned, can I change caregivers if the personalities aren’t a good fit? (Always, at Encore Caregivers.)

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Milton and Marilou, our nurses and Encore Caregivers’ three care coordinators can testify that each day brings a new set of challenges. Arising from the fact that we have more than seven dozen clients in hospitals, continuous care facilities and homes throughout the mammoth Houston Metro Area — each with the client’s own set of caregivers and each case with so many moving parts, we have many day to day, basic business challenges and opportunities.

In additions, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, has dealt a heightened uncertainty to our business climate. With its possible replacement regulations up in the air and the resulting upheaval in the insurance industry — this clearly challenges our ability to adapt to an ever-changing regulatory environment.

Recent changes in the over-time exemption rule have posed great challenges in terms of providing continuity of care to our clients. Most often not being able to assign our caregivers more than 40 hours per week while at the same time trying to satisfy their financial concerns has become a delicate balance — one that we are forced to address each week.

Encore Caregivers – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Encore Caregivers is licensed as a Home and Community Support Services Agency by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services. We are licensed to provide personal assistance services and are known in the industry by its abbreviation — PAS. We provide CNAs (certified nurse’s assistants) and HHAs (home health aids) to care for our clients, who are predominantly seniors. Our caregivers provide companionship, light housekeeping and personal care.

We are very proud of our staff and the level of care that they provide. Their training, experience and heart that they demonstrate daily is standard at Encore Caregivers. They are our most precious asset.

Agency-wise, we are head and shoulders above the rest.

In addition, what other agency has something remotely similar to “Encore Caregivers University” our ramping-up training opportunity for our caregivers to hone their caregiving skills (and get paid for it)?

Once, in the history of our experience in in-home care in the Houston market, we decided to branch out and secured a state license to provide home health care, in which a nurse comes to the home and provides skilled services.

That effort underlined what our core business was — and pulled into focus what our passion was — and how we could best serve the senior community in Houston.

Now, we focus on that passion. We came to realize that our primary focus should remain to provide hands-on, personal assistance to enable our clients to enjoy their independence as much and for as long as possible wherever they choose to reside. We do that better than anyone.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Our proudest moment was when we, as a couple, took the steps to seize such a satisfying opportunity for us to be in business with each other. Through the years, our diverse careers with their long hours and required focus led to individual successes, but these successes were very distinct from each other. With Encore Caregivers, not only do we build on the successes of this company together, but the end result is so very significant and rewarding and impactful on our community. This opportunity has proven to be such a blessing for both of us.

Pricing:

  • $20.50 standard rate

Contact Info:

  • Address: Encore Caregivers
    7925 Katy Freeway, Suite N
    Houston, Texas 77024
  • Website: encorecaregivers.com
  • Phone: 713-686-2233
  • Email: care@encorecaregivers.com

Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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