TEMPLE TERRACE — Oneida Westhoff is passionate about helping people in need, be it the hungry within her community or the disabled and/or elderly in the greater Tampa Bay area and beyond.
She donates food to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry on the campus of Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Last year, she put her day-to-day responsibilities on the back burner to assist her mother in caring for her elderly father in Venezuela.
In fact, Westhoff, who holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of South Florida, wrote her thesis based on the mannequin she created for training caregivers on how to properly handle and move patients.
So it came as no surprise to her longtime friends and family members when, two years ago, she partnered with Russell Corvin to open an Assisting Hands Tampa Bay franchise. That franchise recently relocated from Tampa Palms to an office in Temple Terrace.
It is an in-home business that provides a multitude of services to the elderly and others in need of medical and nonmedical attention.
The role of Corvin — who shares Westhoff’s compassion for helping others and has a background in sales, marketing and management — is mainly networking and meeting one-on-one with families of those who need caregivers.
What sets their company apart from others in the same field, said Westhoff, is that Corvin’s wife, Dr. Jaime Corvin, is a chronic disease management specialist that serves as the business’ administrator. In that role, she oversees the training of its more than 40 caregivers.
“We try to get the best ... and if we feel they won’t give the quality of care we want we won’t hire them,” said Westhoff, noting that all hires undergo background checks and must pass a state home health aides competency test.
Tampa resident Esther Hidalgo initially called Assisting Hands Tampa Bay home care in search for someone to fill in while her mother’s main caregiver was on vacation.
Westhoff quickly responded and complied with Hidalgo’s request that the caregiver speak Spanish and be soft spoken when caring for her mother, who has dementia.
It turned out that Hidalgo’s father had to be admitted to the hospital the same day as they spoke and Assisting Hands was able to provide the care needed for both parents. In the months since then it has been the family’s home care assistance agency of choice and has arranged for several caregivers to handle the couple’s needs.
“Assisting has responded very well to my mother’s needs and now my father’s,” said Hidalgo. “Using Assisting Hands of Tampa Bay was the best decision to get trained caregivers in a short-time notice.”
Mary Ann Yaney, of Seminole Heights, calls Assisting Hands Tampa Bay a “godsend.”
At the request of her father who wanted her stepmother — who was in a rehab facility following a stroke — home on Christmas Eve, she arranged for a nurse to be there to help the woman.
“The nurse made an amazing difference…and by the end of the evening we all felt that she was part of our family,” Yaney said. “It was the best gift I could have given them.”
And West Tampa resident Richard Davison said it’s been “a bright day, each day” since he and his wife enlisted the services of Assisting Hands Tampa Bay.
“From the top persons administering this unique service group to the persons coming into our house, all are very professional, caring and skilled,” he said. “It’s a privilege to have an opportunity to let others know about this group.”
Visit www.assisting hands.com/tampabay or call (813) 514-2922 to learn more.