Forget the share economy, this particular app is all about the care economy.
Called Papa, this is an app that aims to connect senior citizens with college-aged kids.
The aim is to see the younger generation help out people who still want to live independently, but could do with a bit of a hand when it comes to some everyday activities.
Which, let’s be honest, sounds far less upsetting than the company’s slogan of “grandkids on demand.”
As for what these college kids get up to, well it’s pretty open slather. The company says their employees help out with seniors who “need transportation, house help, technology lessons, companionship, and other senior services.”
You may have noticed the word ’employee’ in there too – because the care economy isn’t free.
Seniors pay a fee of US$15 (AUS$20) per month to be signed up to the service, then US$15 per hour of time their “Papa Pal” spends with them. There’s also a premium service, which costs US$30 (AUS$40) per month and then the aforementioned US$15 per hour, but allows seniors to pick their choose their ‘team’.
Andrew Parker came up with the business as a means of helping his grandparents – particularly his grandmother, who was struggling after his grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“I tried traditional home care, but it wasn’t what he needed,” Parker told Fast Company. “I just thought there was a huge gap.”
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What’s more, while Parker is proud of the kind of work the Papa Pals do – such as helping with cooking, showing seniors how to use technology, and doing grocery shopping with them – he believes perhaps their most important role is simply providing companionship.
And not just anyone can become a Papa Pal, with Parker saying just four percent of applicants make it through the company’s rigorous screening process.
“The way that we’re going to make sure that we’re still providing this companionship experience without people feeling uncomfortable about it is through really encouraging the ‘Papa Pals’ to really provide the social interaction with the seniors through essentially ‘instructive companionship’ where it’s like, teach your senior how to use social media today, get them their first 10 friends, or have them FaceTime with family members,” he said.