The at-home companionship company Papa has made what it believes to be a crucial hire. Jane Yu has joined as the head of trust and safety.
“The work that Papa is doing is very personal to me,” Yu told Home Health Care News. “My mother worked as a professional caregiver. My father injured himself after falling while changing a lightbulb, resulting in a permanent disability that created additional care needs for my immediate family. I know how challenging it can be for adults to live safely in their own homes, how families can struggle to provide the support needed and how important having an accessible, trusted care network can be.”
In late 2021, Papa reached unicorn status after announcing a $150 million Series D. That round brought its funding total to $240 million since it was founded in 2017. The company’s Papa Pals enter seniors’ homes to provide companionship – and address loneliness – and also help with activities of daily living.
Papa operates in every state in the country, doing so through its wide-ranging partnerships with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.
Yu has an impressive background, having worked as the VP of global underage use prevention for Juul Labs, an electric cigarette company. There, she led an effort to reduce illegal Juul sales to minors, in part by implementing electronic age-verification systems around convenience stores across the country.
She joined Juul when e-cigarette usage was booming, particularly among underage individuals.
Now, she joins Papa at a time when the company is both growing and facing unique challenges.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg Businessweek published a report documenting abuse claims from both Papa clients and companions. The report was based on 1,200 confidential complaint reports logged by Papa over the past four years.
Papa leaders have stressed that those complaints represented a very small percentage of interactions between clients and Papa Pals. Nonetheless, they are looking to actively address the issue anyway.
First, the company unveiled its Trust and Safety Roadmap strategy in July. That included “more mandatory training for Papa Pals, enhanced screenings and identify verification checks, and more secure communication channels.”
The strategy was developed in collaboration with the trust and safety expert Robert Chestnut. Now, Yu is coming on board to direct it. Yu will report to Dani Bchara, Papa’s COO and CFO.
“Papa’s solemn responsibility is to deliver this vital support people so desperately need in a way that is as safe and responsible as possible,” Yu said. “There are always risks when you are bringing people together, but my focus, in line with that of Papa’s leaders, is on making sure we conduct every single visit as safely as possible.”
In 2023, Papa is on track to complete over 1 million visits, which would represent an over 57% year-over-year increase.
Papa Pals’ net promoter score has increased 13% this year to 65, which is “more than double the global benchmark average,” according to the company.
“As we make rapid progress implementing our Trust and Safety Roadmap, I’m honored and excited to have Jane join our team to propel these efforts even further,” Papa Founder and CEO Andrew Parker said in a statement. “Her expertise in developing world-class safety programs and best practices will be invaluable for us. We’re on track for more than 1 million visits in 2023, a 57% increase year over year, and remain steadfast in our commitment to best ensure our members and Papa Pals are safe, empowered, and heard at all times.”
Yu said that near-term goals include those mentioned above: more required training, new tools to verify identity, improved location tracking and more emergency response features.
“What I’m most excited about is building upon the robust set of tools already in place at Papa,” she said. “The company has always had a strict process to screen and vet Papa Pals, and with the recently completed implementation of continuous criminal and motor vehicle record monitoring on top of comprehensive checks at time of hire, Papa now has the gold standard in background checks – well above the industry standard.”