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Can Honor's tech geeks deliver the 2.0 home care agency?

Does the opportunity with home care rest in its technology? Some Silicon Valley fellows think that it is does, and with a cool $20 million raised, they are launching Honor. What is this oddly named thing? What they've said: it's an in-home care agency that will have a smartphone app for the adult child plus a tablet in the care recipient’s home to say "what time the aide is arriving."  Oh, and it seems likely they will have home care aides who are paid better wages, at least in the SF area, where the 'earth revolves around San Jose' – no kidding, that heading is from the San Jose paper. Oh, and did I forget to mention that they will manage a process to help families hire home care aides?

So many oddities about this home care startup – where to start? Thirty-six year old founder Seth Sternberg’s mom lives in Connecticut and is a poor driver. It’s a long trip from California to Connecticut for him to find someone to drive for her. So of course, he will start a company in San Francisco that will manage and provide better pay to SF area home care aides. Okay. And Seth appears not to have my search skills to know how to find home care agencies in Connecticut. So there's the flexibility to hire for an hour (versus a 3-hour minimum). That’s intriguing, assuming anyone will agree to work for just that one hour, having commuted in from more affordable parts of San Francisco or San Jose. At $17 for that hour, that commuting time should be worth it compared to $10/hour for an aide with a 3-hour minimum commitment. Really?

What’s the problem Seth wants to solve?  Take that $20 million – and…make an app? Really? I guess one Honor investor, 64-year-old Mitch Kapor, is old enough now to have a long-distance aging mother. But in the Bay area, per execs at Family Caregiver Alliance, there already are a "lot of agencies, including some nationwide, such as Home Instead Senior Care, which operate as franchises. Many such agencies are increasingly using technology to communicate with families." Guess the app will be cool because of Seth. He sold a social networking tool company Meebo to Google for $100 million, which then turned it into Google+ (which then crushed it into failure.)

What’s the real problem that needs solving? Agreed that caregiving technology needs a makeover. One hopes that the investors' $20 million will not evaporate into just a better app – hopefully founders have read a bit of what has been written on the topic.  Home care work is difficult and turnover is very high – some estimates range up as high as 100%. But is the pay the real problem? The proposed Honor wage is halfway between Walmart and Costco, but Walmart and Costco employees don't bathe, feed, dress, change, or drive shoppers to appointments. Most store customers don’t exhibit symptoms of dementia, and they are not homebound. Sure, Honor needs a chance to show what it can do. For starters, it needs: a more communicative business name; published standards for recruiting, vetting, managing (and tracking) workers; systems to track the work; processes to update and share status of care recipients -- and given that Seth's mother is in Connecticut -- engagement tools for care recipients to stay in touch with family and caregivers. That would be an honorable start.

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Comments

Glad you wrote about Honor. Trying to figure out how they differ from care.com and similar companies

My take is that honor sees a huge market and believes they can use their talented team and 20 million dollars to dominate

Thanks Laurie. As always, enjoy reading your commentary and articles.
Without sounding too "you punks git off my lawn", I have to admit it is a bit exhausting when some of these start ups think that nobody in the world has ever done this before. I agree that a simple web search would reveal that this is not true. That does not mean that they will not do it better, but there are loads of technologies being implemented by homecare providers to ensure better, more efficient and more effective care.
I will be watching Honor, I had not heard of them before, so it will be interesting to follow exactly what the differentiation is.

Thanks Laurie,

Look forward to more information.

http://seniorhomesafetyblog.blogspot.com/

The question being asked around Mountain View is:
Can Honor skip 2.0 and deliver a 3.0 aging in place service system automation infrastructure, AND, How do I apply for a .honor domain name?

JMF