Orlando Business Journal – Amy Cameron O’Rourke, founder and president of The Cameron Group — a professional care management business for youth and the elderly — has grown her business from her kitchen table and first-year revenue of $19,000 in 1999 to revenue of $1.7 million in 2009.
The reason: “There is such a need for the elderly and their families to plan for the future,” O’Rourke said.
The 50-year-old entrepreneur said many families seek The Cameron Group’s help after they’ve seen their parents have trouble living on their own. Instead of waiting until the situation worsens, they decide to plan ahead and avoid a bigger problem later on, she said.
Baby boomers, in fact, are expected to be more independent and prefer to stay at home, which likely will increase demand for in-home care, said Linda Cramer, professional care manager for SeniorBridge in Naples and president of the Florida chapter of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers.
That’s why, after working in the nursing home industry for 16 years, O’Rourke decided to mortgage her house and, with the support of her friends, go from a licensed nursing home administrator to an entrepreneur.
“I started in my dining room with no formal marketing,” O’Rourke said. “The first six years, we grew more than 100 percent. So about every three years, I had to get increased office space.” As her business grew, O’Rourke moved from her home to an 8-foot by 10-foot office in a landscaping business. In 2003, she moved to a 1,600-square-foot office and then into her current 3,000-square-foot office in 2006.
In addition to helping guide and consult with families about elder care for more than 10 years, The Cameron Group provides assistance navigating through hospital and nursing home systems, as well taking care of day-to-day necessities such as grocery shopping, doctor appointments and exercise.
Although The Cameron Group’s main clientele is women and men age 65 and older, it also cares for clients with special needs, age 12 and older.
“We help them not go into an institution, unless they want to,” said O’Rourke. “And if they do, we help them decide which one is best for them.”
For instance, client Fred Smith, 79, came to The Cameron Group after his neighbor saw him fall outside his home and called the group. Today, Smith said he feels safer with The Cameron Group helping him while he lives at home
“I’ve got a nervous temperament about me, but my caregiver takes care of me so well now that I don’t have to worry about anything,” said Smith.
Myrtle Rutberg, 98, is also a client of The Cameron Group. Her son, Gerald, called the company when he realized his mother’s vision and hearing were slowly getting worse. Her care managers now make sure Rutberg gets out and enjoys life.
As for her success, O’Rourke credits that to friends, her faith in God and hard work.
“I love advocating for the elderly and their families,” O’Rourke said. “I wanted to make a direct impact on others.”