On Monday, Home Instead announced that CEO Jeff Huber will be onboarding as a co-chair at Serve America Together, a campaign aimed at advancing efforts to make national service part of growing up in America. The appointment comes as the home-based care franchiser ramps up growth domestically and abroad.

Serve America Together — which has a goal to make at least one service year a common expectation for young Americans — decided Huber’s voice would be a valuable addition to its board. One of the initiatives of the campaign, after all, is attempting to mitigate some of the issues that come with a rapidly aging population in the United States.

Home Instead Inc. is the Omaha, Nebraska-based franchise company that runs Home Instead Senior Care, a provider of in-home care services with over 1,200 independently owned and operated offices worldwide.

The Serve America Together team, which Huber will be joining, is also co-chaired by Stan McChrystal, a retired United States Army general; Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post; Robert Gates, the former Secretary of Defense under two presidents; Laura Lauder, a popular venture philanthropist in Silicon Valley; and Andrew Hauptman, co-founder of investment firm Andell Inc. and owner of the Chicago Fire soccer club.

Once McChrystal looked into some of Home Instead and Huber’s past work, he invited him to be a part of that impressive group, Huber told Home Health Care News.

“When I became CEO nearly five years ago, one of my key priorities was to find a way to get young people involved and interested in aging,” Huber said. “Not everyone can use Home Instead, but we [want to] be able to offer everyone something.”

Home Instead had already paired with Service Year Alliance, an umbrella nonprofit organization, to help launch its own initiative. That initiative — dubbed “Champions of Aging” — is a service year program where young people spend a year working intensively on aging-related issues.

The Champions of Aging program offers part and full-time service year opportunities. It gives participants experience in working on age-related issues and also formalized education on things like gerontology and leadership.

The need to increase younger Americans’ capabilities in aging-related work has been a growing concern among others in the health care sector as well.

For instance, efforts have even been made in higher education to fill the increasingly big holes in age-related workforces, Dr. Laurie Archbald, a geriatrician and associate professor of medicine at the University of Virginia, told HHCN earlier this month.

“One of the things we’re definitely focusing on at UVA is [making sure] all of our students at least have a basic understanding of the geriatric components,” Archbald said.

Additionally, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) is also working to establish a “caregiver Peace Corps.” Instead of tackling issues abroad as they do in the Peace Corps, volunteers would help ease the caregiver crisis at home. 

If nothing else, the addition of Huber gives the Serve America Together team an additional perspective from the private sector at a time when more Americans are calling for an increased focus on senior care.

“With the seismic shift in demographics, every organization is going to need to adapt their business model for an aging population,” Huber said. “We thought it’d be great to get young people involved to help organizations with that.”

Ideally, the programs give young participants a leg up on the job market as aging-related issues increase. That way, whether they go into a related field or not, they’ll have the skills and knowledge to adapt the challenges that the shifting demographics will cause.

The Serve America Together Campaign has already gained significant momentum with 2020 presidential candidates. Almost every candidate in the race for the democratic nomination has laid out at least some sort of service plan for the American youth. Pete Buttigieg, in particular, has publicly suggested a year of service should be highly encouraged.

Home Instead looking to continue expansion

Generally, Huber is happy with how Home Instead closed out 2019, a year where he said the company provided 80 million hours of care around the world. The company has had a broad emphasis on expansion.

In 2017, for example, they started “Daughters in the Workplace” to educate and assist those who cared on their own for a loved one. In the last year, the company has become increasingly involved in that caregiver benefit conversation, offering their services to working people who moonlight as caregivers.

It has similar growth plans for Champions of Aging in the near future.

“It’s very exciting to be around these young people and see how this is affecting their perspective,” Huber said. “We’re looking to scale it in the coming years. And I think just being a part of Serve America Together will give us a great platform to raise awareness for not just service, but also the need to transform organizations from an aging standpoint.”

While its extracurricular initiatives continue to grow, its overall business has also performed well.

Last year, in the U.S. and Canada, the company grew by just under 7%. Internationally, Home Instead grew by over 20%. Part of that international growth included entering the New Zealand market and launching a new partnership in Japan.

Home Instead also had its sights set on an upcoming expansion into France.

“[A] major initiative [is going to be] getting new systems and some new tools adopted and implemented throughout our franchise network,” Huber said. “In 2020, we expect similar — if not increased — growth trajectories.”

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