The gig economy is coming for elder care

The platform Papa wants you to give company to older people on the side.

If driving for Lyft isn’t cutting it for you, you can always become a “grandkid on demand.”

Papa, a platform that connects young people to elders in need, just closed an $18m funding round.

Its goal is to turn total strangers into star grandkids: on Papa, workers (called “pals”) help elders with things like cleaning and groceries, but also offer companionship.

Eldercare might be the future of the economy

Even before the pandemic, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that personal care aides would be the fastest-growing job category through 2026.

But now, with older people isolated from families and friends because of coronavirus health concerns, the need for caretakers has accelerated.

Not everyone has the chops to become a “pal”: Papa, which is now available in 17 states, claims that 20k people per month apply for a gig, but only 8% get approved.

The pay — $15 per hour — is admittedly a bit less than competing services. As we reported on Trends, Mon Ami — another elder-care gig platform — offers $20 per hour.

These aren’t your grandma’s robots

Other firms tackling elder care have banked on robots to feed (Secom’s My Spoon bot), bathe (Sanyo’s bathtub robot), and even dance with (Pepper) your grandma.

But some experts are concerned that going bionic might leave older people feeling lonelier — which is why the 100% flesh-and-blood humans that Papa offers are so important.

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