Another app-based home care solution has burst onto the scene, and with $3.1 million in funding to boot. But this one—San Francisco-based Kindly Care—isn’t out to replace the home care agencies in its markets, according to its co-founder and CEO Igor Lebovic. Instead, it’s out to capture the clients home care agencies can’t.
This strategy is different from that of other home care startups—think Hometeam, Honor, and HomeHero—which seem to believe the old home care agency model is broken and needs replacing, Lebovic told Home Health Care News.
But Lebovic doesn’t see it that way.
Instead, Kindly Care is meant to bridge the divide between the self-service home care model and the managed services home care model. Lebovic sees value in the work and capabilities of home care agencies—but he believes they’re somewhat unrealistic solutions for families with a tighter budget. After all, he said, securing a caregiver through a home care agency is often far more expensive than hiring one on a peer-to-peer basis.
“Frankly, I believe the old agency model works really, really well, if you can afford it,” Lebovic told HHCN on Wednesday, after Kindly’s funding was announced.
Best of both worlds
Due to the higher cost of working with home care agencies, far more families are hiring caregivers for their loved ones directly, and paying them in cash, Lebovic explained. While more inexpensive, the process puts both families (who may not know how to properly conduct background checks) and caregivers (who are not accruing benefits and are missing out on unemployment insurance) at a disadvantage.
“When caregivers are getting paid in cash, they aren’t getting the benefits they deserve,” Lebovic said. And when families don’t have an agency that takes care of caregivers’ background checks, payroll and benefits, it’s difficult to comply with federal regulations set by the U.S. Department of Labor.
That’s where Kindly Care comes in. Kindly Care was designed to enable families to hire their own caregivers, while still receiving the benefits of working with a home care agency without all of the extra cost.
Specifically, the company sets families up as the employers of their caregivers, who receive W-2 status and therefore qualify for unemployment insurance, Medicare, Social Security and workers’ compensation insurance. Allowing families to provide some of the same benefits as agencies enables them to attract best-in-class caregivers and reduce turnover, Kindly Care said in a press release.
Families use Kindly Care’s free online and smartphone apps to schedule caregivers’ shifts and compile checklists for them. Caregivers, meanwhile, use the apps to record shift notes, keep track of their time sheets and communicate with families or other caregivers about the seniors they care for.
Kindly Care puts “a huge amount of effort” into vetting its caregivers, who all make introductory videos families can watch before contacting and hiring them, Lebovic said. The vetting process is “very expensive,” but Kindly Care’s services still end up being significantly cheaper than those from agencies, according to Lebovic.
“With our caregivers, you save between 40% and 50% from a caregiver coming from an agency,” Lebovic explained. “And we ensure there’s experience, safety and compliance.”
Kindly Care may offer similar benefits to home care agencies, but the company isn’t out to replace agencies altogether. Often, Kindly Care encourages families to hire two private caregivers through their platform, and then work with a caregiver from an agency on a part-time basis.
“Some families need a little bit more hand-holding,” Lebovic explained. “Agency caregivers can provide more of the consultant or strategic components, and help the family understand what to expect.”
Having the agency involved part-time usually guarantees that someone, perhaps a nurse, can stop by every once in a while and spot slight issues other caregivers may not necessarily notice—an unstable piece of furniture, for instance, or the fact that a senior is a bit more depressed than usual.
Currently, Kindly Care operates in Dallas, in addition to all of the major California markets. The company is also actively recruiting caregivers in all of the major geographic areas in Texas, Lebovic said.
MHS Capital led Kindly Care’s $3.1 million in funding, with participation from Jackson Square Ventures and Floodgate. Kindly Care plans to use the funds to grow its suite of services and tools, according to the press release.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson