Elderly Care Goes Mobile On-Demand

Knowing that help is just a click away will be a huge relief to family members who can't be there all the time

Anyone dealing with an elderly relative knows just how hard it is to find help and monitor progress—a problem most of us will have to face at some point in our lives.

You want your loved ones to stay in their homes, but who has time for around-the-clock care? Hiring a professional nurse through a service can be pricey, and your needs might be more suited to companionship than nursing duties. Or you might need someone only now and then, when you can’t be there or need a break.

How do you find the right person for the job when you need one? Can on-demand technology offer a solution to this sticky problem?

The on-demand economy is growing at an exponential pace. With living-wage jobs in decline and young people looking for new ways to earn a decent living, on-demand jobs offer the kind of flexible work/life balance traditional jobs can’t.

In the gig economy, workers have more freedom of choice. With no rigid scheduling or office politics to work around, they can choose their own hours and days off, take vacations and turn down assignments they don’t feel comfortable with. It’s an attractive alternative, especially for workers who dislike the stressors of a traditional 9-to-5 brick-and-mortar job.

On-demand services typically match providers with customers based on need and proximity. For example, apps can help you find a pet sitter, have food delivered or call in a whole Glam Squad for a beauty makeover.

If you can order someone to bring donuts to your mom on Mother’s Day, you really should be able to find someone competent and caring to do all the little things your grandpa needs when you can’t be around, right?

Here’s the app for that

Caregiving is an industry ripe for disruption, and Honor, an online service that connects nonmedical, in-home caregivers for physically and mentally impaired seniors, is growing fast.

The company thoroughly vets applicants, and it accepts state-certified home health aides, nursing assistants, licensed vocational nurses and people with recent senior caregiving experience. It also checks driving and criminal records. Before starting work, each applicant is registered with the state’s Department of Social Services.

Seniors, or responsible family members, search for caregivers much in the way they might find a compatible date.

First, there’s a face-to-face assessment, where the company determines the needs, preferences and other considerations of the person in need.

After the initial assessment, the senior or family member can log in any time to order a caregiver matching their profile to come over and help them make lunch, bathe and dress, take their medications on schedule or go for a walk.

The in-home-care industry is huge and growing. More than 1.5 million workers, most of whom are independent contractors, contract out through agencies.

Turnover is high and quality is low, mostly because workers are so poorly paid. Most earn less than $10 per hour. Honor boosts worker pay to $15 or more per hour (depending on location) and makes every attempt to match the caregiver’s preferences to the clients in order to avoid, for example, sending an nurse to the home of the neighborhood cat lady or a person who speaks only English to the home of a woman who speaks only Spanish.

Higher pay, better working conditions and more control over scheduling should result in less churn and higher-quality care.

By 2030, 61 million baby boomers will be between 66 and 84, and another 9 million even older than that. With the U.S. rocketing toward an elder-care crisis of immense proportion, we need viable solutions.

Technology has leapt into the breach, with more than 100,000 medical applications on the market to identify, monitor and record conditions and statistics.