Keeping at home sweet home

There’s no place like home and a Silverdale business wants to make sure growing older doesn’t mean giving up the comforts and familiarity of home.

Comfort Keepers provides non-medical in-home care with an extensive list of services available including companionship, meal preparation, mobility and emergency monitoring.

“The greatest reward is bringing clients to their home from a nursing or assisted-living home and seeing how happy they are to be in their own house and able to sleep in their own bed at night,” said James Woolford, owner. “It’s a great feeling knowing we’re giving our clients the ability to be where they want to be.”

Woolford franchised Comfort Keepers in 2003 after he and his wife, Pamela, discovered the lack of quality agencies as they searched for in-home care for his mother. Woolford began looking on the Internet and Comfort Keepers’ name stuck out. Later he flew out to the corporate office in Ohio and was impressed by the company’s strong organization and business philosophy.

“We build our business on service and many other in-home care providers can’t match our service,” Woolford said. “If I treat the caregivers as number one then I know the clients will be treated number one.”

Woolford has lived in Silverdale since 1987 and retired from the Navy in 1998. He currently employs 60 caregivers and serves about 54 clients. His success made him a feature in the May 2004 edition of Entrepenuer’s Be Your Own Boss magazine.

Woolford’s Comfort Keepers provides service to Kitsap, Mason, Jefferson and Clallam Counties, and Pierce County up until the Narrows Bridge.

“Many of our clients who live alone are depressed and withdrawn and this is why I feel that companionship is one of the most important services we provide,” said Woolford.

Comfort Keepers has no age requirements. Currently, the youngest client they have is 49 years old and the oldest client is turning 100 in August.

If clients get to the point where they need medical care, they are referred to agencies with nursing available. They work closely with many agencies who provide medical care, including Hospice of Kitsap County.

There are more than 400 Comfort Keepers franchises nationwide that serve more than 8,000 clients. Often regional meetings take place where all franchisees in Washington have the opportunity to come together. The last regional meeting was held in September in Spokane.

“One of the strengths of these regional meetings is you can learn from other’s mistakes,” Woolford said.

This fall, Woolford hopes to franchise another Comfort Keepers in Sequim. Currently, his sister, Shirley Atkins, is training to be the office manager at the Sequim location.

Woolford’s Comfort Keepers is a family-run business. He and wife, Pamela run operations and accounting, while his three daughters also help with the business. His oldest daughter, Kristi is 20 and she will graduate from PLU this month, Stacey who is 18, currently attends Olympic College, and his youngest daughter Brittany, 13, attends Cougar Valley.

“In order to have a successful in-home care business you have to be passionate about what you do and you’re clients must see it in your eyes, you have to commit yourself in terms of time and finances and you can’t treat this as part-time,” Woolford said.

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