Life & Health Care: Providing quality care

‘Whoever needs help, we help’

Messenger photo by Adri Sietstra
Mona Everson, left, owner and chief executive officer of Life & Health Care, in Webster City, and her son David Everson, chief financial officer of Life & Health Care, are pictured at their Webster City office. After starting this home health care service in her own home, Mona Everson and her son, David Everson, have grown the business to the point it is today in 2018 — having served more than 200 clients since 2011.

WEBSTER CITY — Care for clients.

Care for each other.

Care for the community.

These are the three principles Life & Health Care, based in Webster City, does business by.

“Whoever needs help, we help,” said Mona Everson, owner and chief executive officer of Life & Health Care.

-Messenger photo by Adri Sietstra
Life & Health Care offers private caregivers for the elderly and those in need, and provides home care aides, companion care, homemaker services and registered nurses to accommodate a wide variety of home health care needs. The Webster City business, located at 715 Des Moines St., serves individuals in Hamilton, Wright, Hardin and Webster counties.

Life & Health Care provides private caregivers for the elderly and those in need, and provides home care aides, companion care, homemaker services and registered nurses to accommodate a wide variety of home health care needs.

Mona Everson, who started the business in July of 2011 in her home in Webster City, has grown the business tremendously since its humble beginnings.

“I just saw a gap in service for people wanting that option of wanting to stay in their home and having that background checked, trained caregiver,” she said. “I felt I could be that provider for that service in that service area.”

Mona Everson has a degree in nursing from Iowa Central Community College. She has worked in critical care, the emergency room, OB labor/delivery and NICUs. She was the assistant administrator at Hamilton County Public Health for four years before starting her own business.

In the first year, she took care of every aspect of the business. By the end of the first year, she gained two employees, or what she refers to as caregivers or ambassadors.

“Having been a nurse for 36 years, with a background in emergency room critical care and the home health arena, I was well-suited to start this,” she said. “It was a natural transition.”

As word spread and business grew, Mona Everson asked her son David Everson, chief financial officer of Life & Health Care, to join her at Life & Health Care in the fall of 2012. He got a bachelor’s degree in business administration management from the University of Northern Iowa in 2009.

“He brought us into the digital age,” Mona Everson said.

“The business was still run out of Mona’s basement at that time,” David said. “I took the reins of the business and marketing side. That let her focus on clinical care and getting a second nurse.”

Now, nearly seven years later, Life & Health Care employs 36 people. Along with five administrative employees, 31 caregivers currently work at Life & Health Care. The caregivers are primarily certified nursing assistants, according to David Everson. Caregivers also go through personal care attendant training.

The business has served more than 200 clients since its beginning. Life & Health Care works with individuals in a 60-mile radius in Hamilton, Wright, Webster and a portion of Hardin County.

“It’s phenomenal to have this many employees,” Mona Everson said. “I believe it’s because we look for people who want to be caregivers, not people who want a job. Because there’s a difference.”

Life & Health Care serves clients of all ages and with a variety of assistance-based needs.

“We have people that come on for short-term needs,” Mona Everson said. “Say they had a hip replacement or knee replacement.”

“We have people who just need intermittent support to stay safe at home,” she said. “So we’re there for like three hours once a week or three hours a couple times a week. … We go up to 24/7 care,” she said. “It’s gauged according to what that need is.”

As professional relationships are formed between clients and ambassadors, a positive rapport leads to better care and understanding of each client’s unique needs.

“You’re scheduled in the same homes as much as possible so that you develop that client/caregiver rapport,” David Everson said. “This way they understand the nuances of the person and the home and how they like things. There is always a very close, professional relationship established.”

Before taking on a new client, representatives with Life & Health Care meet with the client and their family for a free informational visit.

“We meet with the family,” Mona Everson said. “What we do is a free informational visit, wherever they are. Whether that’s in the hospital or staying with a family member or in that transitional long-term care.”

“We try to encourage as many of the adult children to be there because we believe home care is also family care,” she said.

If they are unable to provide the services the client requires, Mona Everson will refer the family to an agency that can best serve their needs. With limited staffing, Mona Everson noted the importance of looking into elderly care assistance before it is necessary.

Life & Health Care encourages indivduals to start looking for signs their aging parents may be having trouble living at home without assistance. Some signs include unusually disheveled appearance, lack of home maintenance work, limited mobilty and falls.

“I always tell the families it’s kind of like a little shower is happening,” she said. “The thunderstorm may not have started yet, but you’ve got a little rain happening here. Things to look at before the storm breaks.”

Care options are individualized to meet the needs of each client’s unique situation.

“It’s not a cookie cutter plan of care,” she said. “It’s very individualized for each person so that that indivudal is holistically cared for.”

Life & Health Care nurses take the time to email the adult children of their client, with permission, to update them on new medications, doctors’ visits and more. Keeping the lines of communication open with family members who may live out of state or be unable to accompany their loved ones to the physician is vital to nurses and caregivers at Life & Health Care.

“That’s the part of that family care, that reassurance,” Mona Everson said. “That has been a phenomenal piece of our care.”

“Especially for a family that isn’t local anymore and may be out of town or even out of state,” David Everson said. “They really appreciate an email of what is happening with their loved one.”

“That way everybody gets the same information across the board,” Mona Everson said.

Along with caring for the client, ambassadors also help care for their furry companions. Whether it’s cleaning out a litterbox or walking the dog, caregivers give 100 percent to every client they work with.

Staff meets monthly to go over trainings and be educated on infection control, and safety in the home.

“We do a lot of disease teaching with our people, with our families about what is normal, what isn’t normal, why medicine has changed. … We spend a lot of time on that,” she said.

Not all home care has nursing. Life & Health Care, which does have nursing, is considered private medical and is tax-deductable according to Mona Everson. Life & Health Care also works with long-term-care insurances.

“Because of that, we are able to do more in the home with our nursing and working with the physicians and help prevent hospitilizations,” she said. “Because if something comes up, we can get that early intervention and get them to the physician sooner and prevent hospitalizations.”

“Life & Health Care has been a member of the National Home Care Association of America since the inception of the business,” she said. “I’ve grown in that level of being active in that.”

Mona Everson attended a conference in 2015 at the Washington, D.C., office. While at the conference, she had the opportunity to meet one on one with Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst. Their conversation centered around home care issues at the state and federal level and Iowa women in business.

“It was a phenomenal meeting,” Mona Everson said.

In 2016, Ernst and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet joined forces to push a Care Credit Act. This act would give, for long-term expenses that exceed $3,000, a tax credit.

“I’m really proud of Iowa being a national leader in getting something done for caregivers,” Mona Everson said. “These family members or they hire it out, can get a tax credit.”

“It still needs to get signed off as a final bill, but it’s through the Senate,” she said. “I’m really proud Iowa is leading that charge.”

Mona Everson is working on getting a National Home Care Association chapter started in Iowa. She is vice chair for the chapter.

“We’re just getting our inaugural piece of this structure built,” she said. “So I am working with the national office in D.C. to get our infrastructure built and get this off the ground.”

In her spare time, she is also involved in the Webster City Rotary Club, the Rotary Youth Leadership Award selection committee, and is a member of the National Association of Women in Business.

Life & Health Care hopes to continue to provide clients with quality care at every stage of life.

“That’s kind of our philosophy,” Mona Everson said. “Whoever we can assist and if we’re able to meet that need, we will meet that need.”

End-of-life care is one of the many needs the organization fills. Oftentimes, Life & Health Care will work in conjunction with hospice services to provide the best care for the client.

“We’re not Medicare hospice, but we can provide that physical care and let the hospice entity lead that care and our caregivers can provide the physical care,” she said.

As Life & Health Care grows, the Eversons hope to add another RN to the force and welcome applicants who have a nuturing service mentality.

“That’s the most important thing for us to grow, is to make sure our foundation caregivers, the ambassadors on the front lines of care, have as many tools in their toolbox as possible so that they can deliver the best care possible for our clients.”