SONOMA, NORTH BAY – Following a career as an executive in the travel industry, Sonoma resident Frank Samson decided to spend retirement giving back to the community, forming a senior care service.

“I reached a point in my life where I felt I had achieved the success in my industry that I set out to, and I wanted to take my experience running business successfully and get more involved in working with the community and helping people,” he said.

So late last month, the Michigan native and his wife, Michele, officially launched a free assisted living service called Senior Care Authority. The organization provides seniors and their families research-based ratings of North Bay retirement communities and assistance with the payment and transition process.

Previously, Mr. Samson owned several travel industry businesses and operated as many as 200 offices nationwide. Before leaving the sector two years ago, he sold his business, Creative Leisure, to Uniglobe Travel and stayed on as president. Mrs. Samson has spent most of her career in real estate and is a licensed Pacific Union agent.

“I had been doing some consulting in my down time, and I noticed that, even in this economy, the in-home and senior care business was growing, and I guess you could say it rekindled my entrepreneurial spirit,” Mr. Samson said.

“I had always been interested in helping seniors, and with my wife’s experience in real estate I thought it would be a perfect fit.”

The couple modeled the new group after the travel business, applying the hotel rating method and the principle of matching a client with something that meets set expectations.

Before officially launching the service, Mr. Samson spent nine months researching the industry and compiling a list of all the care facilities and services in the region. He then created a metering system and applied a “Care Rating” to each community based on its service record, according to the state database of complaints.

Along with the rating, Senior Care Authority provides payment information, paperwork assistance, travel services and arranges meetings and follow-up with facility operators. All services are provided for no cost to the resident. The business receives a fee from contracted facilities, but they refer to any community with high enough ratings.