The stark reality is that we will all grow old at some point.
The years have a way of catching up with us–and when they do, we generally have one common wish: to live out our years in our existing homes in a safe and comfortable manner.
But finding a qualified caregiver for our loved ones, if we are unable to care for them, may be the most difficult part of realizing that wish.
The statistics are daunting when it comes to home care for older persons. There are some 55 million adults taking care of their parents, with over 2 million caregivers.
And close to 92% of adults when surveyed would rather live in their own home as opposed to a nursing home. The fact is that in a large percentage of cases, family members have difficulty caring for a senior relative, so searching for a caregiver is a necessity.
While there are tens of thousands of agencies across the country that can match you with a caregiver, there is no customization of the process, and you have no way of seeing what’s going on when you are not home.
Programming since the age of 12, the computer engineer-turned-entrepreneur migrated to Silicon Valley working at Yahoo YHOO +0.00%, then transitioned to Bain Ventures.
After he and his family struggled to find a caregiver for his 93-year old grandfather who was previously living independently, Bruno decided to quit his job at Bain Ventures to start a company that would make it easier for families to locate and hire qualified caregivers.
“If you asked me four years ago what I would be doing now, there was no way I would have guessed that I would be working in aging—but these things all happen through personal experience,” said Bruno.
Bruno did some research, and after contacting and volunteering at several dozen homecare agencies, he realized what a huge need — and opportunity — exists in the $80 billion in-home senior care market, which today has a poorly organized workforce and a customer base often with chronic medical illnesses who may not receive the best possible care.
Bruno’s personal journey to find the best possible care for his grandfather uncovered myriad issues ranging from lack of coordinated training for caregivers to a feeling of emotional detachment that emanated in the quality and approach to geriatric care, he explained.
Without the proper tools for the families, and without the support from the caregivers themselves, there had to be another answer to providing high quality home care for seniors.
Bruno kept asking himself why the homecare industry was in such disarray, and by volunteering at several agencies, he became convinced that there was a more efficient way to improve delivery by using technology to power the change.
“We have focused on building a technology platform that supports caregivers and empowers them to do the best job possible, at the same time creating transparency for families so they can see what’s happening real-time in the home,” explains Bruno. “It also creates a very reliable service which demonstrates that we will do the work that requires older adults to be happy.”
Bruno’s core philosophy and company’s mission is simple: “Every older adult deserves a beautiful day.”
So, Bruno assembled a team of other like-minded 20-somethings, including Harry Heymann, who designed the architecture and wrote the backend code for Four Square, considered a pioneer of consumer mobile applications.
Hometeam, launched in 2013, is based in New York City, but also has clients in New Jersey and Philadelphia. The company plans to expand into nine more states within the next year. The company raised $11 million last year from Lux Capital, IA Ventures and Recruit Strategic Partners.
The company has already sent more than 250 caregivers into hundreds of homes throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The caregivers are made to feel part of a team, and are given employee status with health insurance and workers comp benefits, as opposed to being independent contractors or considered part-time workers. They are also compensated 30-50% more than a typical caregiver hired by a standard agency in current markets. While typical wages for a standard caregiver hover around $9-$10 per hour, Hometeam’s wages are closer to $15 per hour. Clients are charged from $20-$27 per hour.
The company’s mission is to transform the in-home care and aging experience by providing elderly clients with personalized care planning, expert caregiver matching, custom mobile technology, and proactive case management to improve older adults’ health and well-being while giving their families peace of mind.
Using technology to improve in-home care has other competitors currently in the marketplace. Among the notables, Honor, founded by Seth Sternberg, formerly of Google GOOGL -0.77%, launched earlier this year in the San Francisco Bay Area, and had raised 20 million by April of 2015. Touting itself as a technological solution to in-home care, its impressive line-up of supporters include Marc Andreessen, as well as Jeremy Stoppleman, CEO of Yelp. Its caregivers are not employees, but independent contractors.
CareZapp, a UK start-up in 2014, prides itself on its technological wizardry leading to more holistic care, allowing patients to communicate with other patients as well as doctors and family members. The app can also interface with other smart in-home technologies including motion sensors that can track movements and alert family members when there are aberrations.
The Hometeam Solution
Hometeam sets itself apart from its competitors by developing its own software that intelligently matches families with experienced caregivers, connects families to their loved ones through the use of mobile technology in the home, and helps caregivers plan days that improve the quality of life of older adults.
Hometeam also distinguishes itself is by having its caregivers identify activities which every patient prefers–something that can be challenging when a person has physical limitations which impair movement and mobility.
Hometeam iPad mood-3
The core foundation of technology for Hometown begins with an iPad for each home that is used by the caregiver to send texts, pictures, and update family members about any changes in medical conditions.
“I want older adults to live more comfortably and happily in their own homes,” said Bruno. “I want to imagine what a perfect day looks like for each of our clients and make it come alive with a combination of great mobile technology and the best caregiving team possible.”
The broader picture, however, may become the integration of technology-enabled apps that also can monitor key parameters of health such as blood pressure, heart rate, medication compliance, and ideally dispatch and communicate with a medical provider when there are aberrations in patterns of vital signs.
“America will face a tremendous challenge in caring for our senior citizens,” said Rich Able, Founder of X2 Biosystems and Partner, Stratos Group Seattle. ”It will be imperative to implement ‘The Connected Senior Citizen’.”
Family members, clinicians, and assisted care providers will need a new generation of technology platforms to help them stay informed, coordinated, and most importantly, connected,” added Able.
“Aging in place and staying in one’s own home environment is highly desirable to most senior citizens,” emphasizes Able, so in order to accomplish this goal, equipping the home with the most useful technology will become critical in the next few decades.
“Startups in the ‘Connected Senior’ vertical must develop meaningful biometric wearables that provide familty members, caregivers, and clinicians the information necessary to attenuate the need for costly emergency care, hospital stays, and multiple physician visits,” he added.
Bruno explains that his company is actively seeking partners to accomplish these higher level functions to advance the concept of such a “connected senior home.”