The network effect

Bringing the power of platforms to healthcare, Caring Support looks to transform the way caregivers and employers connect

Photo, from left: Caring Support vice-president of product and research Jen Logan, COO Rob Lake and CEO Joseph Jongsma

HOW MANY PEOPLE does it take to reinvent the way healthcare organizations hire workers?

If those people are high-energy experts in their various fields, mostly working from home during a pandemic and looking for a creative outlet, then the answer is: 10.
Those 10, led by CEO Joseph Jongsma, have created Caring Support, a focused platform that matches healthcare workers and volunteers with retirement homes, nursing homes, hospices, at-home health ­providers and hospitals. Think of a jobs board like Indeed, coupled with the matching power of something like Uber, designed for and pitched to the healthcare market. Acknowledging the obvious differences, it’s like what local tech success did with the ­voice-over market.

But wait, isn’t one of the problems in nursing and retirement homes the part-time nature of the jobs, ­forcing workers to take part-time positions at multiple locations? And wouldn’t a platform that turned healthcare into a gig, like delivering food, perpetuate that problem?

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Jongsma and his partners say no, the opposite in fact. They believe Caring Support will help connect ­employers with motivated workers, ensuring a better fit than current hiring practices in many places. Not only that, since it will be easier for a given nursing home or clinic to find suitably trained workers, they will be able to cover for ­individuals who are being overworked during the ongoing crisis.

“We’re building a community that caregivers can access for free to build their profiles. It gives them access to a growing portfolio of resources and job opportunities” ― Paul Yuhasz

“We see this as a part of the ­puzzle, something that can help in the ­current climate and be part of the solution,” says Jongsma, a co-founder of London-based payment processing and merchant services firm Paystone, where he was executive vice-president until last year.

Each of the 10 partners has an equity interest in what for all of them began as a side project and is verging on something much more.

“There’s a lot more coming, the wow factor,” Jongsma says, choosing not to divulge too much about what the group has in mind. For now, the ­platform will charge employers to be listed and accept detailed registrations from qualified workers. The key to Caring Support is the granular detail it ­collects about each caregiver, so matches with employers have a high chance of success.

The group is in the process of ­connecting with schools like Western and Fanshawe to get students in various healthcare programs to sign up before they even graduate. Their hope is that one day soon, healthcare students will sign up with Caring Support as a matter of course, the same way so many sign up at LinkedIn or Indeed.

Story Continues BelowThe network effect Caring Support Cover Story

“It’s all about making connections,” says Paul Yuhasz, vice-president of marketing. “We’re building a community that caregivers can access for free to build their profiles. It gives them access to a growing portfolio of resources and job opportunities.”

The platform will develop into more than a jobs board. It will be a site where caregivers go to connect with others in their field, to share stories and experiences. Starting in London, it could take a while to reach critical mass. The plan, however, does not lack ambition.

“We’re starting locally before expanding across Ontario,” says vice-president of product and research, Jen Logan. “We want to go national, but that takes a lot of research, something that hasn’t been done well before. Each province has different standards and procedures. As we grow beyond Ontario, we will have to tailor things to each province. That’s why we’re taking our time and doing it right.”

The network effect Caring Support Cover StoryPhoto: Lake, Jongsma and Logan with Caring Support service director James Smith (at table) and vice-president of marketing Paul Yuhasz

Although their work has become more meaningful to them during the pandemic, as the healthcare system has been stretched and reshaped in many places, they had the idea before anyone had heard of Covid-19.

“We bought the website about 10 months ago,” Jongsma reports. “We were trying to get ahead of the curve, and since then we’ve put a lot of sweat into it.” The site is web-based and makes it easy to download an app directly from the site, without going through Apple or Google apps stores.

Caregivers create a detailed profile and can upload a video resume as well. The built-in texting system allows employers to connect immediately and directly. Employers, for their part, complete a similarly detailed profile and pay $299 per month to access caregiver profiles, see criminal background checks, view video resumes and contact potential workers. The price drops to $249 a month if they pay for a year.

“With the baby boomers aging, we are going to need at least twice as many long-term care beds in less than 15 years. This is the perfect time to do this” ―Jen Logan

Although they are laser focused on Caring Support and have months or years of work ahead to take the platform national, it doesn’t take much prodding for Jongsma, in particular, to discuss his larger vision.

“We’re going to make sure we’re doing this right,” he says, convincingly. But then he sounds like a parent on Christmas Eve who can’t help but hint at the excitement awaiting his kids the next morning. “Going forward, there are lots of industries that need to be ­disrupted – hairdressers, chefs, any kind of in-home personal service. We’re building a robust road map that could be used in other areas, but not until we have this right. That’s our priority now.”

Lest anyone be distracted by the next application, Logan is ready with the research to keep them on track. “With the baby boomers aging, we are going to need at least twice as many long-term care beds in less than 15 years. This is the perfect time to do this.”

Story Continues BelowThe network effect Caring Support Cover Story

It turned out to be perfect for another, less expected, reason as well.

“A lot of hope has been dissipated during this pandemic,” says chief operating officer, Rob Lake. Like so many others, the partners felt the loss of social connection, at work and elsewhere. “People everywhere have creative ideas but can’t pursue them, at least not the way they want to. It has been great to come together, tackle this problem and bring this to fruition.”

At some point, the group will expand beyond the founding 10, but until then the partners are obsessed with getting Caring Support into the world. They’re working evenings and weekends, before and after their day jobs, to deliver a platform people will love for its intuitive and easy-to-use design. And if it makes things better during the pandemic – even at the margins – that’s a bonus they’re more than happy to deliver. The network effect Caring Support Cover Story Christopher Clark

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