Business partners of Acti-Kare, an in-home care service

Rebecca Thompson (left) and Dori Roberts opened Acti-Kare, a service that provides care to pets, children and seniors.

When her mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 18 months ago, Dori Roberts was caught off guard.

Busy running Engineering for Kids, a Stafford County business the former Colonial Forge High School engineering teacher started in 2009, Roberts felt anxious about both her parents, who live in Charlotte, N.C.

“It was very scary for me thinking about how I can possibly care for my parents while living almost 400 miles away,” Roberts said, adding that her dad also has had health issues in recent years. “This is when I started looking into companies that offer home caregiving services.”

As she conducted her research, it became evident to Roberts how important quality in-home care is, especially for families who don’t live near each other. The more she looked into it, the more she began to consider starting a business herself that provides the kind of care she wants for her own parents.

“I wanted to be able to provide peace of mind to others like myself who need the best quality caregivers for their loved ones who live in another part of the country,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of people like my parents who want to stay living in their own homes as long as possible.”

Roberts’ research led her to Acti-Kare, a business based in Florida that provides a range of in-home care, from pets to children to senior citizens. The company has four locations in Virginia, with the nearest one in Richmond. Roberts thought opening a location in Fredericksburg might work.

With her hands already full running the Engineering for Kids business and overseeing its 165 national and international franchises, Roberts sought someone she could partner with on the new project.

She found a great candidate in a friend and former employee, Rebecca Thompson of Spotsylvania County, who has a bachelor’s degree in recreation and tourism management and a background working with senior citizens. Thompson also has experience with children and children’s programs. She was manager at Kids First Swim School in Fredericksburg when Roberts approached her about starting an in-home care business.

“Everything seemed to align and we decided to go into business together,” Roberts said.

The two took the plunge over the summer and spent several months getting licensed as certified nursing assistants and personal care assistants. The new business officially launched in November 2017.

Acti-Kare offers a full suite of senior care--whether the senior resides in a hospital or healthcare facility or in their own home--from companionship and light housekeeping, shopping and errands, document organization and meal prep, to Alzheimer’s and memory care, long term hospice, and respite for caregivers. Acti-Kare can help when an individual is recovering from an accident or surgery, for someone who may have disabilities or special needs, and for pregnant mothers on bedrest. Finally, Acti-Kare provides care for infants and children, as well as pet care and pet sitting services.

“We also have a licensed RN on staff who supervises all the caregivers,” Thompson said. “We set up a consultation and find out what the needs are, and set up a care schedule that will work best for the client.”

She pointed out that hospice or other nursing programs that offer medical care to those at home do not provide assistance with being on hand to prevent accidents or injury, or tasks like laundry, or simply companionship. Through the Acti-Kare network, Roberts and Thompson have access to multiple caregivers they can call on to provide whatever help is needed.

“We saw the opportunity to positively impact many people’s lives by providing compassionate caregivers, which is a great comfort to family members who can’t be there themselves,” Thompson said.

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Emily Jennings: 540/735-1975 ejennings@freelancestar.com