Are you a professional caregiver or therapist who’s ready to work independently but don’t know how to get started? Many of us baby boomer generation are looking for a way to supplement our incomes as we prepare to retire from the rigors of full-time health care positions, while students and home health aides can gain valuable experience and income working part time while in school. Depending on word of mouth to advertise your skills in the community can be iffy at best, while negotiating rates through local mom and pop agencies can be frustrating. Or perhaps you’ve been on the other side, unable to find reliable help when trying to care for an aging relative or chronically ill family member.
Having a sister with MS (multiple sclerosis) and an uncle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, Sherwin Sheik, president and CEO of CareLinx Inc, has firsthand knowledge of the difficulties of finding competent and reliable caregivers to provide hands on care for his family. At one point his sister was quadriplegic and blind, and his uncle requires total care 24 hours day, 7 days a week. “It became very difficult and expensive”, says Sheik. “The homecare industry is very fragmented, with mom and pop agencies popping up all over the place, and homecare agencies marking up costs by 40-50%.” At one point his family turned to Craigslist to find caregivers. “It was a disaster; we couldn’t hold anyone accountable when they didn’t show up at all for work or even stole from us,” he says.
Sheik decided it was time for a “new paradigm for homecare”. “I built CareLinx to solve many of the problems my family struggled with when trying to manage our homecare needs”, he says. “This is what I need. This is what my family needs. I wanted to provide a means to empower families, to allow them to take more control of managing their homecare.”
According to Sheik, CareLinx is built on the same principle as Match.com. Professional caregivers provide an online profile with photo, credentials, skills and an optional personal statement about their work. Family members seeking caregivers can then review each profile to “really filter through and narrow down potential matches”, according to Sheik. He illustrates with the example of his sister, who needed someone specializing in bed to chair transfers, with the ability to move a patient weighing 130 lbs. Caregivers can list their specific skills, such as tracheostomy, ventilator or gastrointestinal care.
Once they find a match with the skills to fill their needs, families can connect online. “They agree upon a rate and a schedule”, says Sheik. Once a family expresses interest, the caregiver must be willing to undergo an extensive background check, covering criminal court records, ID verification, credentials and references, and education. “Once a caregiver passes the background check, a “Verified” icon appears in their profile which is visible to families”, says Sheik.
Once a rate and a contract are agreed upon online between families and caregivers, a schedule is generated. CareLinx uses a state of the art GPS system to track the caregiver’s time log. “All they have to do is go to the house, use their mobile phone or patient’s computer to check in, and the GPS will verify their location and time. When they are finished they check out the same way,” says Sheik. “An invoice is automatically generated which they submit, and funds are then directly deposited into their bank accounts via ACH Direct Deposit by Wells Fargo Bank.” On the other end, families have agreed to pay for these services by credit or debit. “The advantage to doing everything online directly is decreased cost to the families, and increased compensation to the caregivers,” says Sheik.
In addition to providing access to a large pool of compatible and experienced caregivers, the CareLinx paradigm has definite advantages for the caregiver, according to Sheik. “We are giving tools to the caregivers to build their profiles, find work opportunities and increase their earnings potential, “he says. In addition, families are able to write reviews of the caregiver which can be posted in their profile. “Many glowing reviews can really boost a caregiver’s career”, says Sheik.
Another goal of the CareLinx paradigm is clear, frequent and easy means of communication between families and all of their caregivers. “People can easily collaborate on-line”, says Sheik. “There is a forum very similar to a Facebook wall where families and caregivers can securely post their concerns and write accounts of what is happening on a day to day basis. Family members are often at a distance from the patient and this gives them the ability to manage what’s really going on.” Sheik also cites the importance of this sort of collaboration when social work discharge planners or case managers need updates on patient status.
Is the CareLinx paradigm catching on? “Feedback has been very good”, says Sheik. “We launched in September and we now have a couple thousand caregivers on the site, and we’re popping up everywhere”. Although main offices for Carelinx are in San Francisco, caregivers are also available in Southern California, New York, Florida, Detroit, Atlanta and Alabama. “We can’t keep up”, says Sheik, who is requesting patience when contacting the site. “We knew this would happen, it’s built into the program”, he says. “We started out connecting with caregivers first so that we could build a large pool. Now we are partnering with patient groups and associations.” Considering that CareLinx had its debut in September 2011, it appears that it will be firmly in place as the demands of the aging baby boomer population escalate over the coming years.
CareLinx is a secure home care social network that helps families link with caregivers looking to manage their services online.
Visit us at https://carelinx.com/