By Steve Moran
This story started with a post in the comment section of a Senior Housing Forum article that didn’t quite seem to fit. But the post itself was intriguing enough to prompt me to respond to the person submitting the comment about his business. A few days ago I got a chance to visit with Rich Ashenoff, the founder of Room2Care.
Uberizing Senior Living
HomeHero and CareLinx have been touted as “Uber like” home care services and that is sort of true, but maybe more accurately they are more of a web-based home care agency. A cool and potentially better way of delivering services but not quite an Uber-like sharing economy concept.
Room2Care is a Florida-based start-up that looks more like Uber or Airbnb than either HomeHero or CareLinx: Here is who they serve and how it works:
A person with a spare bedroom can take in an elderly person to make some extra income. Because of licensing regulations this does not work in all states, but in Florida where they are currently operating, a homeowner can take in up to 2 individuals and provide care without a license. Rates are negotiated between the homeowner and the roommate, as is the level of services provided.
An elderly person who needs a place to stay and a little or a lot of care but either does not like or can't afford traditional senior living/assisted living. They would be matched with someone in the first category.
An elder who lives by themselves and needs mostly companionship and some help with chores; things like grocery shopping, lawn mowing, fixing meals, housekeeping or taking out the trash. This might not even involve any money except a fee to Room2Care.
An individual who is in need of a place to live . . . think maybe Millennials or even Boomers who are under-employed and need a place to live. Depending on the level of services provided, it could be an even exchange or it might mean the roommate might be paid a little something.
Complementary or Competitive
It is way too early to say if this will be competitive or complementary. It would seem that it could be competitive, at least to the board & care marketplace, although they do or will have a mechanism for listing these communities. It would also seem to be a great solution for those who do not have the financial resources to pay for traditional senior living.
The big threat is that assisted living keeps getting bigger, bolder, broader and more expensive. It also looks almost nothing like the home they are having to leave behind. I think this kind of service could have a serious disruptive impact on traditional senior living in the same way Uber has seriously impacted the taxi business.
Nuts and Bolts
They are still working out the details. Right now the service is free, they have about 1,000 people signed up and have made a bunch of matches. Most have worked well. They do background checks that are comparable to what a home care agency does for their workers.
If he gets this off the ground it will have an impact and make the industry better . . . I think, since we still seem to be waiting for that to happen to the taxi industry.