Aysha Cooper is no ordinary business owner. For that matter, she is no ordinary mom, student or volunteer either. First and foremost, she is the best mom she knows how to be to her “almost 7” year old son. One of the most important parts of being the best mom she knows how to be is in setting a good example as a whole and well-rounded person.
“I can bring him to the center with me so that he can experience my work,” says Aysha. “Sometimes we do our homework together too.” Being a successful entrepreneur, balancing work and home, education, and offering the community her volunteer hours is all a part of the dynamite package that is the owner of SarahCare of Snellville.
SarahCare of Snellville was opened in memory of and in honor of Aysha’s grandfather. “My grandfather had Alzheimer’s and our family experienced Adult Day Services in Indianapolis,” explains Aysha. “The idea of this business was a good fit with our personal experiences and my degree in Public Health with Long Term Care Certificate.” Aysha’s undergraduate degree came from IU in Indianapolis. Currently, she is working on her MBA at UGA. “I have gone from Hoosier to Bulldog,” laughs Aysha. “But I am loving every minute of it.”
Four years into the business, SarahCare has built a consistent clientele and a great reputation for the level of care they offer. Based on a medical model, SarahCare is staffed with full-time CNA’s and RN supervision. The staff can provide medical monitoring and feedback to families and physicians with regard to the general health of all participants. “We offer diabetic management, medication administration, vital signs, bathing assistance and toileting assistance throughout the day,” says Aysha.
While medical monitoring is important, the center looks a great deal more like a fun place to spend a day. After passing the secured reception area, participants enter the living room just past the café which is decorated with warm colors, pleasant pictures, and comfortable seating. All manner of activities take place throughout the day. With a staff to participant ratio of around 1:5, participants enjoy face-to-face, stimulating contact. “It would be so hard to say anything bad about SarahCare,” says CNA, Ashley Dorman. “It is a beautiful center and there is never a dull moment.” SarahCare is anything but dull. Small groups enjoy everything from a game of dominoes to singing and dancing. “Our purpose is to maintain their health by providing stimulating activities,” explains Aysha. “We focus on the senses, brain stimulation, and physical activity.”
The different areas of the center offer a variety of activities designed to suit the needs of all participants. The arts and crafts area showed several levels of activity that allowed each participant to participate based on what they might need or want to do on any particular day. The outdoor courtyard provides both flower and vegetable gardening. Healing/soothing music, chair exercises, and Tai Chi are all among the offerings in the full activities calendar maintained by Activities Director, Bonnie Pennimen. “We also make a big deal out of celebrating birthdays,” says Bonnie. “We make each person our SarahCare Star, sing and have a great time.”
Animals play a big role in keeping the participants active. Riley, a therapy dog, comes to SarahCare once a week. His “person” Jeanne Coto, tells the group all about Riley’s antics for the week and then Riley dutifully goes around giving out special love to his friends. They all smile and wait for Riley to make his rounds as he collects a bit of a treat from each outstretched hand. “Riley loves to be here and gets so excited when I tell him where we are going,” says Jeanne. Bonnie agrees, “We need laughter and smiles around here and that is just what Riley brings.”
In addition to caring for the participants who spend their days with Aysha and her staff, Aysha offers resources for the caregivers. The adult children and spouses who find themselves caring for a loved one in their home often feel stressed by the responsibilities that go with such an undertaking. Aysha makes certain that her center offers a kind word, hug or other support that caregivers often go without. “Our families are a high priority to me,” says Aysha. “Unlike caring for a child, caregivers have a person to care for who might not sleep at night; they might wander and require a great deal of work to ensure that they are safe each day.” SarahCare offers many levels of care, but if the fit is not right, Aysha makes sure she takes the time and energy to give families direction on the best options for adult care possible. “I would love to add a caregiver resource center,” says Aysha. “Someplace they can find a little respite and counsel.”
One family member, Lisa, whose father-in-law attends SarahCare expressed her joy at having a safe place for him to go each day. “He says he is going to the club,” says Lisa. “We absolutely love it and SarahCare has been a Godsend for us.”
For Aysha, life has had many curves and challenges, but she would not have it any other way. She firmly believes that all that happens comes back to you and that you must treat everyone fairly and with kindness. Owning her own business allows Aysha to attend her son’s activities at school, work on her own education and still find some time to volunteer in the community. “It is important to me that he sees my entrepreneurial spirit,” says Aysha. “He comes up with great ideas for his own businesses and I don’t doubt that he will succeed,” Aysha says that each person who comes across her path through her connections from SarahCare impacts her life. Each employee, participant, family or community member steers her business and personal life just a little and she learns something from each encounter that adds to the person she has become.
Visit http://www.sarahcare.com/snellville for more information.