In the business of caring
In part two of a series of stories profiling the participants in the Enterprise Bermuda incubator programme, we speak to Fiona Douglas.
Caregiver Fiona Douglas has seen first-hand just how confusing the landscape can be for someone seeking the appropriate care for an ageing loved one.
“I found, in my personal circle, a number of people looking for assistance, and who were just not sure where to start,” said Ms Douglas, who has launched Care Connect Bermuda, a service designed to help people find care and assistance for their ageing loved ones by bridging the gap between the community and the resources available to assist.
“My previous clients often came to me at a point where they just needed to know what to do, someone to tell them what step to take first.”
Ms Douglas is among eight entrepreneurs participating in the yearlong Enterprise Bermuda incubator programme organised by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
The initiative supports entrepreneurs by providing office space and equipment, access to mentors, and expert business advice. The BEDC's objective is to assist Government in encouraging economic growth for Bermuda's local small and medium-sized businesses.
Ms Douglas, who has a licensed practical nurse certification, earned a master's degree in public health organisation and policy, and global health studies, from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. In Bermuda, she worked for a caregiving agency, gaining additional skills, before launching the business.
“The kind of person who seeks a caregiver's help is a family member or a caregiver for an older loved one who is near burnout, or at risk for burnout,” Ms Douglas said. “Caregiving takes a lot out of you and sometimes the caregiver wants support, or even someone to tell them that it's okay to seek help. Sometimes, that's all you need to continue to give satisfactory care, or even great care. Even a family's supporter needs support.”
Ms Douglas offers consultation on an hourly basis, or can agree a package rate if a client requires help with the process of finding the appropriate care.
“People usually ask what the care options are and I normally ask them more questions so we can figure out how to narrow down what they're looking for,” she said.
“Sometimes, people just want moral support because they don't know what they need or want. Other times, they know what they want and don't know where to start, so I help them with the in-between phase.
“With past clients, I have helped them find caregivers and advised them about the questions to ask in interviews with caregivers. I help them determine what kind of caregiver they are looking for, whether that is long-term care, in-home care, or live-in care.”
Ms Douglas also assists caregivers with career support. If a caregiver wishes to be self-employed, for example, Ms Douglas will help them to understand their responsibilities to government.
While developing Care Connect, Ms Douglas is working as a consultant for the government, leaving her time to meet with clients of her new business a couple of days each week. She is also taking an online course.
“I do a lot, but time management is key,” Ms Douglas said. “It's about not overbooking yourself. My clientele is increasing, mostly by word-of-mouth, but I am still accepting new clients and am always open for individual consultations.”
A graduate of the eight-week Entrepreneurship 101 course with the BEDC, Ms Douglas said she viewed the Enterprise Bermuda incubator as an opportunity to receive support for her start-up.
“It's perfect, it lines up with the different stages of my personal business growth,” Ms Douglas said. “I am meeting the other entrepreneurs who are growing in their business as well as established entrepreneurs who are providing additional practical guidance.
“With respect to the others in the office, we are all at different stages. Each of them has crossed different bridges that all of us will cross at different times.
“It's about sharing our knowledge. We are all here to grow together.”
• Connect with Ms Douglas by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website at www.careconnectbermuda.com, where there is a pre-consultation form to fill out. Ms Douglas promises a reply within 48 hours