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Why don’t home care agencies offer tech support?

Maybe Best Buy has an idea worth copying from Amazon. In 2015, Amazon introduced Amazon Home Services, which fairly recently added tech services, including sending a local tech professional to your home. The work might be setting up a router; connections for 4 devices; password protection; and use and troubleshooting instructions. Recently, Best Buy launched Assured Living, a service to help long-distance adult children monitor older family members’ well-being, including setting them up with smart home technologies (costing as much as $1000 for all of them), possibly some of the list is in the ‘official’ definition. Oh yeah, and there is a service charge of $1/day.

What’s so smart about a smart home?   How smart a home is, of course, depends on how many of the options that are deployed can be outsmarted by thieves or other invading nuisances. Consider the possibility of anger, annoyance and irritation that accompanies the user experience for anyone who uses a smartphone – or stands near someone using the speaker in an airport. Perhaps smart home misbehavior might irritate just a bit more? Okay, here is the Coldwell Banker-CNET list – "controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or a separate system within the home itself. And it must include at least two features from a list of smart options, including appliances, entertainment lighting, outdoor sensors, and safety detectors."  Don’t laugh when you see that one in four homes in America ‘has this technology in their homes.’  Really – that survey must have included homes with just smoke alarms (96%).

So why should home care agencies care to become involved?  First, more than $400 million of VC money has been thrown at so-called tech-enabled home care, which describes little more than a portal, an app, and limited transparency to what’s going on in the home. One of the earlier young investment darlings has already exited the market – just two years after launching. But the home care industry lives on past the demise of Home Hero. Today's home care agencies are struggling mightily with a shortage of labor to perform one of the lowest-paid and most difficult jobs.  Would higher pay help or is even possible?  More 50+ workers?  Or should the companies consider deploying smart home technology that is far more comprehensive than a portal and an app? 

What would Smart Home for Home Care do and why should home care agencies offer it?  Consider that many home care aides sit with care recipients for hours on end.  Instead, spend the money to add Wifi and Internet access to a home – then start adding capabilities that stretch home care agency capability and improve quality of life at the same time. Look at what LivHome did to deliver 24x7 remote oversight – when a home care aide is NOT present. Why should that be unique when so many agencies can’t find enough workers? What if in-person time requirements were reduced but the labor savings were redirected into new tech for remote monitoring, in-home video chats, or Voice First technologies? What if home care (or home health care) agencies led the way, offering worker and client incentives to make change happen and paving the way for smarter and helpful homes?