By Emily Stonehouse
Karinya: an Australian Aboriginal word that can be translated to “a happy and peaceful home.”
This is the vision of Abby Gordon, the founder of Karinya Home Care Inc., based out of Minden.
The bright-eyed 23 year-old originally hails from Australia, but moved to the Haliburton Highlands when she was young. She attended local schools all the way through to high school, before moving to Ottawa to attend Algonquin College for community studies, followed by a focus on developmental services work.
“I always knew I wanted to work with people who have disabilities,” she said. Through her schooling and placements, she felt like she was on the right track. That is, until the pandemic hit.
“When COVID first hit I wasn’t sure what to do,” she shared. “My placements had been cancelled, and I was at a bit of a crossroads, so I decided to move home.”
Upon returning to the Highlands, Gordon started a position at HHHS as a COVID screener. As time went on, she began to connect with the staff and the atmosphere, and it wasn’t long before she was offered a position as an activity aide at Highland Crest in Minden, a long term care (LTC) facility.
“This wasn’t anywhere on my radar,” she laughed. “I never thought about working with seniors, but I absolutely fell in love with it on my very first day.”
Gordon shared with the Echo that she felt connected to all the residents at the LTC home. She would spend hours listening to their stories, hearing about their past, and getting them exercising and active to improve their quality of life. “The one-on-one time was really what was the most rewarding for me,” she said.
While the role was engaging, Gordon shared that after nearly three years, she began to feel burnt out. She started considering returning to school, or finding an alternative path, but nothing felt like quite the right fit. Until suddenly, she was inspired to start her own business.
“It was an incredibly hard decision to make,” she said. “I had no idea how I would say goodbye to the people I was working with, but I knew I needed to walk away. For myself, and for the opportunity to help other people.”
The crux of Karinya Home Care Inc. is “to make people feel like people” in their own homes. Gordon shared that oftentimes, as people age or are faced with diseases or disabilities, they are often seen as “patients” instead of “people”. She is hoping to remedy that.
Some of the services she offers are personal care and wake-up rituals, companionship care, medical reminders and wellness checks, basic house cleaning, accompanying transportation services, and meal preparation for seniors and those with disabilities, especially those living alone. “I want people to be able to stay in their own homes; the spaces where they feel the safest and the happiest, and I want to help them with whatever they need to be happy and healthy.”
She launched the business on Feb. 21, and within six days, her books were entirely full, with a growing waitlist of over 20 people. “The need is a lot bigger than I originally thought it was,” she said. “I am overwhelmed in the best way possible.”
Gordon hopes to grow her business further, based on the apparent need in the community, but shared that she needs some time and space to be able to get her footing before she can expand her team and her services. “Compassion, empathy, and patience are huge for me,” she said. “I want to grow my team with people who live for those qualities, so I can’t rush that.”
Karinya home care is available across the county, and Gordon will happily answer any questions, or add individuals to a waitlist until she is able to accommodate all the needs in the community. “It’s so hard for me to say no to people, but I just need some patience from people who are interested right now, and I want to help everyone as soon as I can.”
You can follow Gordon’s journey and services on Instagram by visiting @karinyahomecareinc_ or you can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.