Personal care and disability support start-up Better Caring recently closed a $2.3 million Series B funding round to accelerate the rollout of its rapidly growing service nationally.
Better Caring is an online, two-sided marketplace for those requiring in-home care or disability support to connect directly with care workers, giving both sides more autonomy and choice.
Investors in this round include Computershare co-founder Tony Wales, KTM Capital Founder Keith Kerridge, whose firm led the successful Freelancer float, (both also participated in the Series A round) and newcomer Macdoch Ventures. Several other high net worth investors participated in both rounds.
What is the story behind Better Caring?
Co-founder Peter Scutt (pictured right) says he was inspired to create Better Caring by the care experiences of his own parents who wanted to remain living in their own home.
“Care from providers was expensive, costing $45 to $50 per hour and more on weekends, and as a family we had little choice,” Peter said. “It was frustrating.”
“The situation with my parents made me realise that this industry was crying out for change.
“It wasn’t servicing the needs of people like my parents, nor support workers who are typically been paid as little as $20 per hour and yet are at the coal face of delivering quality, person-centric support to help people remain independently living in their own homes and communities.”
He also wanted someone to socially connect with his parents, as his mother, who has dementia, and father found the ‘revolving door’ of care workers turning up each day difficult to cope with.
Peter and co-founder Tony Charara (pictured left) knew innovative technology could solve many industry challenges and empower consumers and support workers to get better outcomes.
“An online peer-to-peer marketplace or network – one where families could quickly and easily find and connect directly with care workers in their local area – would make the whole process more efficient, as well as make clients and care workers feel more empowered and valued. We could deliver choice while removing overhead to make care more affordable,” Tony said.
People who need support can search for care local workers on criteria that’s important to them, whether that’s skills and experience, services offered, cultural background or interests.
How is Better Caring doing so far?
Peter was previously a partner of a global financial institution. He ran operating businesses before founding and managing their US venture capital business.
Tony has been an investment banker at JPMorgan, Ord Minnet Securities and ANZ Investment Banking and is the founder of Spark Capital a boutique corporate advisor and investment firm.
Since the duo launched Better Caring in December 2014 it has attracted nearly 2,000 care workers with new applications being received daily.
Of the 2,000 applications, 350 care workers are currently visible and available for hire on the website, reflecting the strict criteria that workers need to meet before their profile is activated, including police checks and reference checks.
Better Caring has managed to reduce home care costs for families from $45 to $55 per hour that most agencies charge, to $25 to $35 per hour that most individual care workers are charging.
“The feedback from our members has shown that care workers also earn more and feel more valued,” Tony said.
“With Better Caring, care workers set their own fees and run their own small business, servicing their clients. They get to choose when and where they work, whether to accept a client, they are covered by insurances and benefit directly from delivering quality services.”
Better Caring has also introduced an SMS dispatch system to reach out to dozens of local care workers within seconds, making it simple and convenient to find the right support worker quickly.
“We’ve had an incredibly strong response, not only from families with aging parents, but also from people with a disability who are self-managing and self-directing their support,” Tony said.
“Many of the more innovative home care and disability services providers are also working with Better Caring to offer their clients greater choice or to supplement their own workforce when needed.”
Poised to catch a strong wave
Aged care and disability support is a fast growing industry.
Better Caring is well positioned to benefit from shifting demographics and Government reforms in aged care and disabilities, including additional funding, support for consumer choice and transparency.
Government spending on the NDIS alone is expected to dramatically increase from $13.6 billion in the 2012/2013 financial year to $22 billion in 2019/2020.
And with aged care spending currently at $16 billion a year, and only 5 per cent of people in nursing homes, the Government plans to help people stay in their homes longer by increasing the number of Home Care Packages from around 66,000 to around 100,000 by 2017.
More than 40,000 additional home care packages are expected to be available over the five year period, from the 2017/2018 financial year to 2021/2022.