There’s an emerging trend in the home care space that allows those needing care to circumvent the traditional agency. Instead of hiring caregivers through a home care company, more careseekers are able to directly hire caregivers through digital platforms that create new networks of qualified, available caregivers.
Several digital platforms that bring caregivers and careseekers together work with home care companies, particularly multi-site, national providers. But other technology companies are offering new networks outside this conventional relationship – a new Craigslist for caregivers, with vetting.
One such company is Home Care Assist, which recently launched in North Carolina and Georgia, and connects careseekers with caregivers directly—without the middle man of a home care agency.
“It is not an in-home care agency, but it does do some of the heavy lifting for careseekers in the search for an appropriate caregiver while requiring involvement in the hiring process from the person seeking care,” Brian VanHook, co-founder and CEO of Home Care Assist, told Home Health Care News of the company’s platform.
When a careseeker and a caregiver connect on the platform, the two parties negotiate schedule, pay and other details themselves, according to VanHook. When terms are agreed upon, the careseeker hires the caregiver independent of Home Care Assist’s involvement, he said.
“Home Care Assist’s role is to remove the guesswork involved in finding the right caregiver and establish connections that have an increased opportunity for long-term success,” VanHook told HHCN.
The matching is based on a number of factors, including qualifications, skills and location, but also focuses on providing a compatibility between caregivers and careseekers.
“A CNA’s relationship with the client fails if there is no foundation of compatibility,” VanHook said. “For example, we could send the most qualified caregiver with the highest level of integrity and skill into a client’s home, but if that client doesn’t share a common interest with the caregiver, it has great potential to flop.”
With this desired personal connection in mind, Home Care Assist asks caregivers a series of questions to find out their interests, and matches them with careseekers partly based on their responses. For example, caregivers may be asked if they like to play games or cards, if they enjoy history or like to read. Caregivers respond on a five-point scale to avoid “yes” or “no” answers.
Beyond the Agency
Careseekers pay Home Care Assist for access to its caregiver database for a 15-day, 30-day and 90-day pass. When it comes to paying for care, however, Home Care Assist “steps aside” after enabling the connection, said VanHook. With pay negotiated between caregiver and careseeker, there is “usually a cost savings to the careseeker and a pay increase for the caregiver,” he said.
The platform taps into a fundamental desire of the aging Boomer population, VanHook alleges, as this generation seeks greater control of their own health and care.
It also seems to bring transparency to a type of caregiving that is already going on in the industry: direct-to-consumer. Home Care Assist also claims that the platform’s direct hiring results in 25% to 40% higher pay for caregivers, on average.
“Since caregivers are not working through an agency in the Home Care Assist model, the ‘middle man’ is eliminated and caregivers can potentially negotiate a higher pay rate than what an agency could afford to pay them,” VanHook said. “It’s a matter of direct pay.”
However, careseekers and caregivers are responsible to consider their own tax implications of direct hiring.
Home Care Assist verifies credentials as it recruits caregivers for the platform, and currently sees a lot of traffic from certified nursing assistants and people interested in companion care. Down the road, the company would like to expand into other service areas, such as occupational therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy.
Currently, Home Care Assist has more than 2,000 registered caregivers in its database, and numbers are increasing each day, according to VanHook. Over the coming months, the company also plans to expand its presence throughout the Southeast.
Written by Amy Baxter