Originally published in Franchise Dictionary Magazine in November 2021.
Before signing on as a franchise owner with BrightStar Care, Andy Ray enjoyed a successful career in the health care industry, working on the corporate side of the business for more than 30 years. But he desired more.
"I was far from the actual caregiving itself, and I wanted an opportunity to be much closer and have a direct relationship with patients," Ray said. "When I found BrightStar I knew it was a natural extension of what I was doing and the next obvious step for my career."
BrightStar Care, a national private-duty, home-care, and medical-staffing franchise that has locally-owned-and-operated locations nationwide and employs over 16,000 caregivers and over 5,700 nurses, has been recognized by The Joint Commission nine years in a row for its devotion to the highest standards of quality and safety in in-home care.
When Ray joined the BrightStar Care team in September 2019 as leader of the Mesa/Gilbert, Arizona, branch, he immediately adopted the brand's formula of compassion, integrity, and accountability and formed a strong bond with the community.
"We have a large veteran population here in Arizona and a VA health care system that is stressed and challenged by this influx of patients," Ray said. "Our policy with vets is to always say 'yes,' and our services save our military members a 40-minute drive to Phoenix to receive their care. We can do everything at home, from treating a wound to offering companionship. It's extremely fulfilling to give back to the veterans who have given us so much."
And treating veterans is just one part of BrightStar Care's strength of commitment.
"Working for BrightStar Care, you're making a difference in people's lives," said, Lisa Marie Swiatkowski, an RN and certified dementia practitioner who, with her husband, Jim Boone, owns and operates a BrightStar Care facility in Venice, Florida. "We go in at a person's most vulnerable times, and they rely on us to accomplish the activities of daily living - getting out of bed, bathing, feeding - but we do it with dignity and heart, all while delivering the highest standard of care possible."
Swiatkowski, who has been employed in the health care industry for more than 30 years, working in the hospitals, nursing homes, and urgent-care centers, and running the American Red Cross Nurse Assistant Training programs for three states, said her BrightStar Care franchise ownership has been an extremely rewarding portion of her career. "It is so rewarding to get calls from family members expressing their gratitude for seeing improvements in their loved one's health and well-being, the conversation with a husband that can once again get out to play golf knowing he has a caregiver that can stay with his wife who is suffering from dementia, or the lady who could no longer drive but now has a BrightStar companion to take her to hair and nail appointments or make the trip to the ice cream store for a weekly treat. We are impacting people's lives for the better, and there's nothing more fulfilling than that."
Andy Ray agrees, "it's kind of funny," he said. "Working in corporate for so long, my life revolved around quality business reviews. Here, the phone rings, and it's a vet's wife saying: 'Thanks for what you've done for my husband. You have no idea how trusted and safe we feel.' That's the most personally rewarding quality review I've ever gotten."