The UK’s care sector is in the grip of a staffing crisis, fuelled by low wages, patchy training, and relentless working conditions.
Skills for Care statistics show a 52 percent rise in care home vacancies. And on the home care side, a ‘perilous’ lack of staff is keeping patients stuck in hospitals for longer, driving up waiting lists.
Meanwhile, Germany is experiencing an alarming care deficit of its own.
“We are anticipating a shortage of some 300,000 care professionals by 2030 in Germany,” says FLEXXI Care Chief Marketing Officer, Philip Czipczer.
“The German government is trying to make it more attractive for caregivers to join the ranks, and while offering slightly better pay, the improvements in working conditions still leave a lot to be desired.
“One of the top priorities for most care professionals here, is to attain a better work-life balance.”
Company CEO & Founder, Dr. Rudolf King, adds:
“For the first time that I can recall, demand for care is vastly outstripping supply.”
Dr. King has first-hand experience with Germany’s home care problem.
After struggling to find adequate support for his father, he made it his mission to make home care accessible to everyone in Germany and thus to improve quality of life of the community.
An ‘Uber for care professionals’, FLEXXI Care was launched in late 2019, right on the cusp of Covid.
Now, the company is starting to establish itself in its Munich home, with B2B, B2C, and B2G operations in the pipeline.
FLEXXI Care solves the problem of acute short-term care: flexible, simple, financially viable, and trustworthy by connecting self-employed care professionals and nurses with relatives for short-term assignments via a digital booking platform.
The special thing about it: FLEXXI Care makes it possible for nurses to take up self-employment.
Furthermore – and just as important – the nurse receives appreciation, fair remuneration, freedom to organise his or her own work, and the opportunity to work independently.
Maggie Tang, a nurse consultant working for FLEXXI Care explains:
“For a long time, it was a professional goal for me to no longer work in shifts in a hospital, but to work on my own terms.
“FLEXXI Care enables just that, it gives nurses the opportunity to become independent and work under their own conditions.”
“Many nurses are leaving the care profession and we’re aiming to help them get back by saying: as a certified caregiver, you’ve spent three years doing your training, and you have worked in medical institutions.
“Why not use those skills, and get back to doing what you love?
“This app will help them achieve a better work-life balance, earn as much as they want and find career opportunities nearby.”
How it works in detail
There are two apps: FLEXXI for customers and FLEXXI Team for providers and care professionals.
The care professional sets their work range by postcode, with a pop-up notification alerting them of new care opportunities.
If they agree to the job, timeframe, hours, and pay, they simply accept and start the care work.
FLEXXI Care is not the first company to adopt this model.
However, unlike its competitors, carers have no contract to sign, instead, they must be self-employed.
For that, they upload a clean police report, professional certificate, and professional liability insurance and they’re ready to go.
Dr. King says:
“Another key differentiator is that we offer short-term care, even for just a day.
“Our competitors have a pool of nurses on-call. And it’s a minimum of three days, five days a month.
“With that model, you must pay a lot more cash in advance.
“But what if you only need someone to change a few bandages or help you with your insulin shot?”
Local governments have tried to address the carer problem, albeit with low-tech solutions.
In October 2020, Dr King came across a call centre administered by the Bavarian Red Cross. To test the service, he called the number and requested a caregiver.
“They said we could have one on December 12 at 2pm, for three hours,” Dr. King says.
“How are you going to solve the problem with that nonsense?
“There is more to it than just setting up a call centre. You must have the supply side and organise the exchange efficiently.”
FLEXXI Care is now in talks with government officials about setting up a network of caregivers, available with the touch of a button.
“They can either use our full solution or just take our software and build their own pool. We’re totally fine with that,” Dr. King adds.
Meanwhile, FLEXXI Care is looking to expand northwards, following demand from providers in cities such as Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Berlin.
Dr. King says:
“We have a strong focus on local knowledge which will help us expand nationally through franchising.
“With our model, we can provide a very good technical solution, to the growing caregiving problem in Germany.”