BrightStar Senior Living Madison breaking ground soon on new facility

BrightStar Senior Living Madison is breaking ground next month in Waunakee for the construction of a new senior care living facility.

This company is part of BrightStar Care, an Illinois-based franchisor with hundreds of separately owned territories across the country.

Jeff Tews and Susan Rather are franchise co-owners for BrightStar Senior Living Madison; they are also BrightStar Care Madison franchise co-owners, with five locations in Madison, Janesville, Baraboo, La Crosse and the Racine/Kenosha area — a service area which covers 1.3 million people, according to Tews, who says there are at least three other franchisees for BrightStar Care in the state.

Most BrightStar Care Madison employees are certified nursing assistants — or CNAs — and work with people in their homes when they no longer feel safe taking care of themselves, Tews says. They bathe clients, make food, do simple chores, provide transportation and perform other supportive care.

Tews’ franchise also does medical staffing. In the counties it covers, there are about 350 agencies under contract that can call BrightStar Care to temporarily fill positions.

“That’s a thriving branch of our business also,” Tews told “[We have] about 500 employees; 45 of those are managers doing scheduling, supervising field staff, or are case managers working with clients.”

He says the staffing division of the franchise makes up about 20 percent of the business for BrightStar Care, while 80 percent comes from the in-home care. Tews and Rather already own one BrightStar Senior Living center in Madison, and the second is coming soon in Waunakee, with construction set to begin in August.

Tews says that despite the risk associated with taking on debt for the new building, he’s optimistic about the future of the business. With an aging population here in Wisconsin, and people living longer in general, Tews says BrightStar offers “peace of mind” to a growing number of families.

“This combo of home care and assisted living under the same entity offers a unique opportunity to provide care for a large number of families,” Tews added.

One thing that concerns him, he said, is accessibility to employees.

CNAs are the bulk of his operation’s employees, but he noted it can be difficult to find them within a reasonable drive of where they need to go. That’s a problem, he said, given the unpredictable weather in the state.

For nurses, at least, Tews says the company can pay them “more than the market average,” as they mostly work in the staffing division, which offers services for which other care facilities pay a premium rate.

For CNAs, the advantages of working for BrightStar are more about the unique setting and nature of the work — though they do pay them competitively, Tews said.

“We are attracting a group of CNAs that want to have a more meaningful relationship with the client, and not be as rushed in their care,” he said. “They come to us saying they like the setting we have: one-on-one care, spending more time getting to know the client and patient, working with them on different levels.”

–By Alex Moe