With Australia’s population ageing steadily, aged care providers are struggling to keep up with demand for their services. As demand grows, so do costs for care, but with serious concerns in the aged care space well documented by the media and advocacy groups, consumers also face challenges in finding reputable providers.
After experiencing difficulties trying to find carers for their grandparents, who wanted to stay home and receive care rather than entering a facility, Sydney sisters Lauren Hockley and Marissa Sandler came up with the idea for Careseekers. Essentially a job search platform for the aged care space, the site allows carers to create profiles, explaining their experience and qualifications, which can then be browsed by those seeking carers. In turn, those seeking a carer can also post job ads.
“Agency care was too expensive, government services had eligibility criteria and long waiting lists. In the end it was through word of mouth and a bit of luck that our family found some great carers who helped to look after our grandparents at a price that was affordable to our grandparents and fair to the carers,” Hockley said.
“We decided that luck should not be the determining factor in finding reliable in-home carers and the more we spoke to other people in similar situations the more we saw that there was a need for a disruptor to the status quo, an online marketplace to find in-home carers. The need for this type of a service will only grow as Australia has an ageing population.”
Hockley’s previously worked in marketing, while Sandler was a lawyer working in human rights and disability discrimination. The pair have worked together before, co-producing and directing a documentary about child trafficking in Cambodia in 2009.
“We are both passionate about creating a business that helps people and have the same grand vision for Careseekers,” Hockley said.
Work on the business started in April last year, with the carer side of the site launching in September. Now boasting several hundred carers signed up with profiles, the focus has switched to attracting care seekers.
“We are initially focusing on three marketing strategies to attract customers to our site – search engine marketing, content marketing, and developing relationships with key stakeholders who we believe will refer clients to our site. Referrals will be key to our success, this includes referrals from community services, hospitals, GPs. We need to go to the places where people are looking for carers. Although this is an online business we will be attracting customers through online and offline channels,” Hockley said.
Those searching for carers pay a one-off fee to search the database, contact carers, and post jobs. Careseekers also offers a concierge service, shortlisting candidates and conducting reference checks on behalf of a customer. Corporate packages are also available for organisations hiring carers on an ongoing basis, like group homes and residential aged care facilities.
Niche job search platforms seem to be all the rage in startups at the moment. A new one seems to pop up every month, but their growth shows that particular industries have not been served well by mainstream platforms like Seek and CareerOne, simply due to the nature of the jobs in those industries. By allowing those searching for carers to bypass agencies and search for carers directly according to experience and personality, Careseekers gives users peace of mind that their parents or grandparents are in safe hands with the carer they have personally chosen.
The potential for Careseekers to grow was seen by the NRMA, with Careseekers accepted into the organisation’s 12 week Jumpstart accelerator program earlier this year. The program, gave them $30,000 and connected them to mentors, also gives the startup access to the NRMA’s 2.4 million-strong customer base – many of them in the age group Careseekers is targeting.
Hockley said, “Demo day is fast approaching and this is when we will hopefully be able to secure further investment.”