Written by Deena Douara
“I had regret in my mind, for not being with them until the end,” she says, emotional. “I’m still thinking about it.”
Vatavu has had a few careers — as a civil servant, a mortgage advisor and a sales entrepreneur — but this latest endeavor is perhaps the most personal. Silver Door Homecare provides professional care for the elderly, including both medical services and nonmedical services like bathing, food preparation, grocery shopping, and attending doctor appointments. A Registered Nurse first assesses clients’ needs and the service provider best suited to work with them.
In addition to individual client supports, Vatavu organizes a free social club open to all seniors.
“What seniors lack is a place to socialize, especially when they are living alone. They enjoy … celebrating their birthdays, or having a speaker come speak on a topic that’s of interest to them.”
She explains that families are increasingly stretched and in need of outside supports.
“It’s the sandwich generation. Professionals have to divide their time between their profession, their own kids and their aging parents. There is not enough time to do everything. It’s a very emotional period.”
Despite past experience in entrepreneurship, times have changed and necessitated new learning, with digital presence and outreach being one of the most important methods of gaining clients.
“Before starting this I took all the courses possible,” she says, including various courses in psychology, dementia and aging.
She also took extensive business training through the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto’s Starter Company program.
“Starting a business in a new country is something you have to learn,” she explains. “Different countries have different laws, different everything, so I was not able to rely on previous experience.”
One of the most valuable courses she took — so much so that she took it twice — was on Google and digital marketing. Now she says she’s confident with her WordPress site, SEO, Google ads and other methods of listing and advertising online.
“It was absolutely amazing. That was absolutely new to me.”
Also helping her get started was Vistaprint, which Vatavu uses for everything: banners, business cards, invitations, thank-you cards, flyers, brochures and displays. “It’s a very easy process,” she explained and an affordable avenue for marketing materials.
While Vistaprint and Enterprise Toronto both provided business tools and expertise, it was Vatavu’s family that inspired her business values.
“I got all the values from my parents and I’m trying to pass them on to my children,” she says. “Keep your promise. Your word means a lot, and if you cannot keep your word then do not make that promise. I also learned from them the meaning of ethics and that dedication is important.”
Silver Door Homecare is available across the GTA, with plans to expand across Ontario this year, before going national.