Research shows that COVID-19 has hit the elderly especially hard – in the United States, more than one-fifth of all Coronavirus deaths in the spring occurred in nursing or care homes. But that isn’t the greatest risk for seniors, the quality of their care home – and home care – is.

Home care services are provided by a caregiver (often working for a home care agency) who visits the client directly in their home. Seniors who are able to remain in their own homes and receive proper care are able to enjoy their final years with dignity and independence. And, in the face of the pandemic, seniors are far safer in their homes compared to a facility, where the virus can spread quickly from resident to resident.

While the United States and most countries in Europe have legal standards in place for medical treatment for home care agencies, the United States is unique among its peers in that it has no federal regulations concerning non-medical care. Some home care agencies provide well-trained caregivers and high-quality services, while others fail miserably, Fraser explained.

Setting high standards for home care

To remedy this labyrinth of varying home care standards and make life easier for both clients and their families, David Fraser (EMBA 2010) runs the Home Care Standards Bureau. It provides a method of certifying non-medical home care agencies and grants an A+ certification only to those agencies that are willing to vigilantly uphold the HCSB Code of Standards and Ethics.

“In the United States, regulations can differ dramatically from state to state, as well as whether an organization is for-profit, non-profit or government-run,” explained Fraser. “At the moment, there are no uniform accepted standards and ethics codes applied by law to home care organizations.”

By providing a certification for non-medical home care agencies based on rigorous standards, HCSB is helping to ensure that the clients, patients and their family members are fully confident in the ability of these agencies to provide high-quality compassionate service, in addition to complying with all applicable laws and regulations.

When an organization is approved for A+ Certification through HCSB, it is required to meet HCSB rules and standards for the training and education of caregivers, perform thorough background checks for all associates and many other standards that ensure top-quality services will be provided. In addition to HCSB’s standards and code of conduct, A+ Certified agencies must meet and comply with all relevant state and federal laws, meet state licensing requirements and agree to treat all clients and their families ethically and fairly.

The HCSB investigates any formal complaints lodged against A+ Certified agencies, their staff or caregivers for alleged violations and takes disciplinary action when appropriate.

The scientist with a heart

The HCSB is not the first of Fraser’s innovative ideas – earlier in his career he discovered one of the critical molecular mechanisms that controls how genes turn on and off (he sold the patent to Novartis). The polymath’s impressive professional background also includes stints as a semi-professional soccer player, before he earned his PhD in Toxicology and went on to a post-doc in Basel, studying cytochrome p450 – the major enzymes involved in drug metabolism.

After his success in developing pharmaceuticals to extend lifespan, it was only natural he made the transition to making sure those long lives were happy and healthy.

“My goal was to be a good scientist, and I always believed that it was my job to help grandparents get to know their grandchildren. We have done this by extending the lives of multiple generations,” said Fraser. “This is one of the greatest things science has done for humanity.”

During his IMD EMBA studies, Fraser developed the idea for a company called Vitality Home Healthcare, which would become his first foray into the senior welfare industry. He designed his business plan for the start-up, which would serve as an activity-based home care service, and worked with different professors to evaluate where to establish the company and what kind of capital it would take.

Fraser took this advice to heart and founded Vitality Home Healthcare near Denver, Colorado in 2010. His careful planning paid off and by the time he sold the company in 2018 he had 100 employees and annual revenues of over $3mil. Eager for the next challenge, in 2019 he took over the HCSB from founder Ed Pittock, who served on the President’s Council for Aging under President Obama.

HCSB’s mission is to raise the standards for professional caregiving,” said Fraser, who noted that more than 100 agencies use the company’s certification.

Bringing big tech to home care

Taking his influence on the industry one step further, Fraser has recently developed Careshare360.com, an app-based software for agencies to keep in touch with caregivers and clients in the field. It converts their feedback into user reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp, which are critical to marketing and sales success in the United States. CareShare 360 can also be used to boost agencies’ Net Promoter Score and to prepare targeted marketing campaigns.

“The great thing about Careshare360 is that any home care agency can use it,” said Fraser.

COVID-19 has not been kind to seniors. The deadly virus has only emphasized that taking care of the elderly is best done – whenever safely possible – in their own homes with qualified home care rather than in a crowded facility.

“The problems with facility care existed well before the pandemic struck, but COVID-19 shined a light on them,” said Fraser. “Our goal is to help home care agencies succeed, so that our elders live long and healthy lives – together with their families.”