Shift to Shared Economy Paradigm a ‘Game Changer’ For Disability Workforce
17 July 2017 at 8:38 am
A new online marketplace where older Australians and people with disability can connect directly with care support providers promises to be a “game-changer” for workers in home care and disability support sectors.
After acquiring Find a Carer last month, Care Support Network is set to operate nationally with access to around 3,000 carers.
The aim is to allow clients to handpick the person and service that best meets their specific needs, while giving individual carers greater flexibility, work diversity and independence.
Care Support Network co-founder and CEO Rob Evers, told Pro Bono News the model was a “game-changer for the sector”.
“The aged care and disability sectors in Australia are facing challenges like never before; an ageing population and increased demand for disability services is putting enormous pressure on already overworked service providers,” Evers said.
“The best way to combat this is to take an entirely fresh approach and to shift to a shared economy paradigm.
“I think it is a game changer in the sector to be honest.”
Care Support Network enables individual carers to nominate their own price, while also choosing the hours they work, where they work and who they work for.
Evers, a former executive officer of Yooralla and CEO of Wesley Mission Victoria, said the model could help address the issue of workforce shortage.
“So my understanding is there is going to be a shortfall – depending on which research you believe – of 70,000 or 60,000 carers by the time the NDIS is fully rolled out, and one of the difficulties that all traditional service providers are facing is how to recruit sufficient care support providers as staff,” he said.
“We think that by giving people, who might not otherwise take a full time job; so we’re thinking of people who only want to work part time, students obviously coming through, older people, we’re thinking of people who have been carers for say their own family members who now no longer need care but they’ve got all that valuable experience, they can step into the online space.
“A lot of the caring for people at home is not always strenuous personal care, it is sometimes about companionship, it is about transporting them and just doing things around the house for them, so it doesn’t necessarily need the highest degree of qualification.
“So we think there is a great opportunity for experienced and caring people themselves to step into the online space and make a difference.”
Similar to other sharing economy models, Care Support Network will utilise an online rating system for both the carer and the customer, allowing for transparency.
Evers said they will also screen people who apply to be registered online.
“We well understand the vulnerability. So first of all they need ID, we have to establish that they are the person that they say they are, they must have a current police check, and we seek to have that renewed every three years which is best practice. No police check, they don’t get listed on our site,” he said.
“If they say they have certain qualifications, such as a cert three in aged care, or community care, which is a fairly common thing, if they identify that they have those qualifications, we also want to see those qualifications,” he said.
Evers said while they hoped to have many thousands of carers on the database, the main aim was to recruit carers in regional centres and rural areas where it is normally difficult to find carers.
“We think this model is tremendous for people because online you can be anywhere in the world obviously, and so if we can encourage people who are carers, or care support providers in rural and regional areas to come on board then it goes a long way to solving some of the problems who live in those areas and need that care and support,” he said.
Evers said Care Support Network would work alongside service providers to ensure the sector had a responsive supply of carers that can keep up with demand.
“We need to be able to sustain the growth needed in the supply of at-home carers, and address the changing needs of older Australians and those with disability,” Evers said.
“The best way to achieve this is through collaboration and innovation with service providers; we’re building a network that together will navigate the changes within the sector.”