Enhancing the circle of care

older person elderly carer aged care

A new digital service is able to provide 50% more home care hours to older people by harnessing technology

Your older patients may be interested in a new service and app called Five Good Friends that has just been launched.

The service is run by Simon Lockyer, who previously co-founded Everyday Hero – a fundraising software that has helped charities raise over $350 million online – along with mate Nathan Betteridge.

He also co-founded Youngcare, which helped build Australia’s first age-appropriate apartments for young people with high-care needs.

Mr Lockyer and Mr Betteridge have now turned their attention to aged care services, with the aim to help older people stay in their own homes for as long as possible.

“Too often you hear about people going into residential care prematurely because of simple practical concerns,” says Mr Lockyer.

“My partners and I knew there must be a better option – that’s why we started Five Good Friends.”

The name “Five Good Friends” is based on research that says the optimum quality of later life revolves around having a lifelong close circle of five core friends.

“What it does is use technology to bring services to people,” he tells AJP.

“We recognise that growing older isn’t something we do alone. It’s a broader circle of care, of which pharmacists are an intimate and trusted source.

“Quite often there’s a carer – maybe a son or a daughter – coming into the pharmacy to collect medications. They can use the app technology to make the caring process far simpler and easier.

“The people who are involved in that care need to be updated and kept in touch. We also match carers to develop relationships with people in the home.”

The service is currently available in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Hervey Bay and the Mornington Peninsula – with expansion plans for other states in the future.

It is based on a membership model that relies on a small weekly fee that a person can top at any time.

“Unlike many other providers, there are no minimum hours and the consistent hourly rate we offer is significantly less than a person would pay elsewhere, plus the quality of our helpers is high because our unique model enables us to pay them more,” says Mr Betteridge.

“Because there is direct contact with helpers who clock in and out using our app, there’s totally visibility to everyone including family members who are the person’s primary carers. People are able to use more hours than previous providers offered, and at a time when they want it including weekends because we don’t charge more.”

“The benefit is what we’ve done for the model is to take pressure off hours, gaining efficiency through our technology,” explains Mr Lockyer.

“Through this model we are able to provide up to 50% more hours than a person could usually get [for the same price].”

young man mobile phone app technology
“The app is great – it’s how I keep everyone up to date. I check in, check out and leave notes. It’s a great way for families to keep track and see that their money is being well spent.”

There is an extensive (and expensive) vetting process for carers that provide Five Good Friends services, including looking at police checks, certifications, qualifications and interests.

The company only takes roughly 5-10% of those who apply to be carers.

Examples of services offered include companionship; domestic help; cooking; cleaning; showering; dressing; transport; gardening and handiwork; and simple technology assistance.

Mr Lockyer says a passion for social innovation drives him to create platforms such as Five Good Friends.

“I just really enjoy trying to find ways to make our society work better. Bringing innovation and business to social service is very rewarding.”

His personal motto?

“You can help yourself through helping others. Even in your lowest times, it always brings a little joy to do something for someone else.”

Real stories

Ian Browne, 87

“It is really important to me to stay in my home for as long as possible. I’m fairly independent, however I’m not shy to admit that it became apparent a bit of practical support would not go astray. All I needed was a bit of help with transport, shopping and a few things around the house.

“It’s not something I want to burden my daughter with, she has enough on her plate, and there was certainly no need for me to be going into aged care.

“Five Good Friends are a very good matchmaker. Chad [32, carer] is a delightful young man. He drives me where I need to go, helps with my shopping and we always stop to have a coffee and a chat.

“He’s very intelligent and I like to hear his point of view on a range of subjects. We have a great time. I would certainly recommend Five Good Friends.”

Chad, 32

“I started working with Five Good Friends as a handyman, to help fix things around people’s homes, but I ended up staying longer and spending time with people.

“I expressed interest in doing more and I was matched with Ian. I really enjoy his company. I have one other client in the afternoon and I now really look forward to my Tuesdays.

“It feels less like care and more like hanging out. I don’t have grandparents of my own and giving a little bit of time to somebody makes a huge difference – both to me and to them.

“The app is great – it’s how I keep everyone up to date. I check in, check out and leave notes. It’s a great way for families to keep track and see that their money is being well spent.”

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