The personal challenge of arranging care for his parents inspired Mycare’s Managing Director Mark Jeffries to create a better way.
“What now?” It’s a question I was completely unprepared for when confronted with my parents’ increasing health issues and frailty.
I’ve spent the past 17 years founding and growing technology companies. But it was the personal challenge of arranging the care of my elderly parents – navigating their home care and subsequent moves to a retirement village and residential facility with nursing services – that ultimately led me to set up Mycare with co-founders, Laurie Hilsgen, Chris Mathews and Rob Stewart.
Home care is a billion-dollar industry in New Zealand. It grew up in the 90s and early 2000s and they picked a corporate model. But it’s not clinical care – you’re talking about the most intimate, human things, often it’s a mix of both personal care and some element of companionship. We think there should be more choice and flexibility in the relationship.
With my father’s increasing dementia, mum would joke that it didn’t matter who came to help him get ready for the day because he wouldn’t remember them. But mum felt frustrated because they didn’t have the same person come into their home each week. From my perspective, I needed more flexibility to decide exactly what kind of help their support workers could provide. My siblings and I also wanted better transparency. We all wanted more say.
Hiring someone to help you at home is nothing new – we’ve been opening our doors to helpers and support workers of all descriptions for years. But using new technologies to give everyone the ability to safely find a worker and manage the relationship no matter where they’re based – that’s new and potentially very powerful.
Fiscally, it’s important that people can age in place. It also provides them with community, continuity and familiarity – things that bring comfort as we age – and that’s a big deal. But it’s not necessarily about home care being better than a rest home – it’s about giving choice to people who want to stay at home.
The power of Mycare’s model is that you can decide who comes to your door. “Clients are given the freedom to meet their carer before they start to work. It gives better rapport between us,” says Clarissa, a Wellington-based worker. “Most clients feel they are empowered because they are given the privilege to choose.”
With over 4000 workers signed up, Mycare is already New Zealand’s largest online community of home care workers. The transparency of reviews and consistent trust and safety processes help you make informed decisions about which workers you want to hire. The care is also more affordable because more money goes directly to the worker, and because our margins are very low – less than a third of corporate-delivered agencies – you can buy more care for your money.
Mycare also addresses the needs of the people who provide home care, letting care workers pick who they’re hired by, where, when and for how much. As self-employed contractors, they can deduct business costs such as vehicle and petrol expenses, and can use their mobile phones to tick off jobs as they’re completed, keeping clients and their family members – no matter how far-flung – in the loop. It’s a new level of choice and control for the care industry in New Zealand.