AS parents age, caregiving often falls on family members who are generally less-than-adept at elderly care.
While some have to deal with the physical and mental stress of providing support, some are also faced with financial strain.
Most of the time, these family members will have to leave the workplace to spend more time at home.
In other cases, they may be pressured into moving their parents into retirement homes — a decision that can impact the well-being of the elderly due to the stigma surrounding old folks homes.
This situation affected Martin Yap Lu Hoong, a former architect who had to take care of his (late) grandmother who suffered a stroke.
“This was two years ago and it was a difficult process for our family. As much as we love our grandmother, taking care of her was particularly difficult because we could not find a good caregiver to assist and advise us,” says Lu Hoong, who used to work in the elderly care industry then.
Realising the difficulty, he co-founded CARE Concierge with his partner Justin Yap Woon Bin in late 2017.
Striving to challenge and elevate conventions in the elder care industry, the startup firmly believes in the importance of having promoting independent age-in-place while giving peace of mind to family members.
With Lu Hoong’s experience as an architect, CARE Concierge developed, designed and operates The Mansion, a 47-bed premium nursing home facility in Kuala Lumpur which achieved full capacity in just 14 months.
The startup provides skilled nurses, therapists and caregivers for elders, to provide support in the comfort of their home, or any residence of their choice.
More than on-site services, CARE Concierge also has the proprietary CARE Concierge App which allows family members to keep track of their elders through a digital diary.
Family members living overseas or on-the-go can see how their relatives are doing at any point of time with input from caregivers.
“We position ourselves as a technology-based company. We use technology to make it easier to run the home. Even our care managers are all mobile-based, so that gives them the flexibility in terms of where and how they work.
“We are always connected with clients. Our caregivers have a separate platform where they can give input on any information regarding the clients, which are also accessible by the family members,” says Lu Hoong.
With data tracking of health and vitals, medical experts can better diagnose and treat patients where necessary.
Irregularities tracked by the system can be immediately brought to the attention of relevant specialists for treatment.
He cites the case of one such care patient found to have internal bleeding whose condition was detected by the app.
“We saved the man’s life. Nurses taking care of him saw from the data that his blood pressure was very low.
“They immediately called the ambulance and it was subsequently found out he had internal bleeding. Without the tech and data, we might not have known what was happening to him until it was too late.
“I see this technology as a secondary layer to make sure that clients are well taken care of.”
Besides being a monitoring device, the app is used as a booking platform to match patients with caregivers.
The app also has a training section.
Explains Lu Hoong: “When our CARE Pros log into the app, they can do some training via our videos. So let’s say if they want to learn skincare, we have a library of videos to help them upgrade their skills.
“They can also sign up at a location of their choice if they want more thorough training.”
Also available inside the app is a messaging service and a built-in e-commerce platform focused on healthcare equipment and supplies from third party vendors.
The caregivers, or CARE Pros, are selected after screening and given in-person training before they are matched by the CARE team to a case that suits their training and experience.
They are also backed by a team, including a CARE Manager to handle the cases and work closely with the CARE Pros as well as a team of doctors and nurses.
Vetting includes police check, health screening, certifications and regular training for specialised care.
CARE Concierge has over 1,200 registered CARE Pros consisting of caregivers, nurses, and trained specialists such as physiotherapists, speech therapists and geriatricians.
The CARE Pros are trained to manage activities of daily living including specialised care for dementia, stroke recovery, cancer, Alzheimer’s, post-operation and conditions that require medical procedures and therapies.
Almost two years since the launch of its resort-like eldercare facility The Mansion, the startup has been ramping up its offerings.
In April this year, CARE Concierge launched a daycare centre in Jaya One, Selangor and has partnered with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman and Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences to certify and provide accreditation to its CARE Pros.
In providing the service, Lu Hoong says the challenge is to make sure that it’s a people-centric business.
CARE Concierge has had cases where caregivers were treated like maids.
“A caregiver has been trained and equipped with the skills to assist the care recipient with their activities of daily living, which include bathing, eating, getting dressed, dealing with incontinence, as well as mobility.
“The caregivers also provide care in the form of dispensing medication, exercise and basic physiotherapy, engaging with mind stimulation exercises and companionship.
“However, we do get some cases where our caregivers were told to clean floors and trim trees. We do not accept such behaviour.”
CARE Concierge’s efforts and mission to take care of the elderly has also seen the startup recognised as a regional finalist in the Jumpstarter 2020 Global Pitch Competition hosted by Alibaba and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation recently.
The startup was among the five finalists at the competition, from over 200 applicants from the region.
CARE Concierge was awarded with The Innovation Startup Award for its belief in the importance of helping the elderly age-in-place and its proprietary tech app.
It was voted and recognised as the Audience’s Favourite — becoming the only startup to earn both accolades for its efforts in revolutionising the elder care industry.
With its achievement of regional finalist at Jumpstarter 2020 and its award of becoming the SEA Startup Disruptor of the Year in Wild Digital 2019 in July, CARE Concierge has been recognised with two SEA awards for its innovation in the elder care industry, placing Malaysia at the forefront of this sector among Asean countries.
The startup and the regional finalists will compete in the grand finale in February next year, where they will face off against finalists from Shenzhen, London, San Francisco, Toronto, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. Top five teams will receive US$100,000 (RM420,000).
“Research has shown that by 2030, seven per cent of Malaysians will be 65 years and older, classifying us as a country with an ageing population. The elder care industry is in its nascent stages, and we foresee prominence in this area in the future.
“At CARE Concierge, our aim is to help families live as full and independent lives as possible,” says Martin.
“More elderly prefer to live alone and we are looking to incorporate sensors into the app. Maybe something like Apple’s Siri, where you can just talk to it.
“When the client wakes up in the morning and does not feel well, he can request a caregiver through it.
“We are not looking at wearables because old people don’t really use them.”
CARE Concierge is expanding its home and daycare facilities to Penang and Johor. Its second Mansion with 28 rooms just opened in Seksyen 14, Petaling Jaya.