Care has been a part of Marion's life since she was a child growing up in Estonia. It drives her deep, personal passion to help those who need care and those who give care. In a society with an aging population, it’s essential we’re able to provide care for a fulfilling life.
How and why did you found Elunow?
There are two reasons that I was inspired and motivated to start Elunow.
First, because care is a subject that really hits home for me. Throughout my life, even as a child, I've had to take care of my own family members and did not have enough time to live my own life. From the age of 10, I started to take care of my disabled brother and my mom, who also had problems with her mental health. It became my responsibility to make sure that they are taken care of and I didn't have much time to think about myself. I’ve always felt that there’s that injustice in the world, that everyone should have the right to live their life without that burden of care, so I studied social work, social policy, and sociology at university.
Second, because of my experience as
a caregiver in the UK for 6 years. My eyes were really opened to what life is
like for both caregivers and those in need of care. I got an inside look at the
system, the lives of the people in it, and saw how bad things really were.
What is Elunow and who is it designed for?
Online platforms like Elunow match
the needs of those needing care with qualified and experienced local caregivers while providing value-for-money and peace of mind. There are two main types of
users - people who order care (either for themselves or for a loved one) and
people who want to give care. It offers an opportunity to anyone
who needs care services, and to anyone who is passionate about providing care.
In your opinion, what is the biggest problem with care?
The biggest problem is that caregivers are not really valued highly enough. They’re typically not very well paid and that often results in high staff turnover for many agencies as people don’t tend to stay in the profession for very long.
That means a lack of consistency in the provision of care too, which is not ideal for the person in need of care. Providing care is a hard job, physically and mentally demanding. I think if there was better support for caregivers, which helps them develop their skills and experience but in a more flexible way that works for them as well as for the recipient, then I'm sure that lots more people would choose to care as a profession. It’s also important to pay them better too.
How does Elunow solve this problem?
In more traditional agency models, it’s often the case that you get what you’re given - the agency will provide suitably qualified staff but the recipient of the care often has no say in who turns up on the day. And that person may be different day to day, so it’s hard to build a rapport. Elunow offers the opportunity to choose caregivers based upon reviews from other care recipients, for example, so you’re much more likely to find a caregiver that fits your needs.
Why are you bringing Elunow to the UK?
Ever since my first trip to the UK, I've been extremely fond the traditions, value and culture and of the people there in general. There are already lots of care providers in the UK, but as I experienced myself during my time working there, the standards and quality are not always what they should be and with Elunow I’m looking to change that. I was inspired by my time living and working in the UK to found Elunow, so it seems only right that we bring Elunow here.
What prompted you to become a caregiver in the UK?
It was not something that I planned at the beginning, my main goal was to stay in the UK because I loved the country, the values and traditions there. People are very friendly and it's warmer than in Estonia! When I first got to the UK, it was really hard to find a job in social work or social care so I started searching online for career options. I came across some in-home care companies and I applied for a few roles. From the moment I started being a caregiver, I was trying to make people's lives better and more equal because I didn't have this myself when I was a child.
Did you find the role you were doing fulfilling?
It's definitely a very fulfilling job. People are rightly very proud to say they are care workers. When clients are looking at you and saying thank you, that without you they’d really struggle to get through the day and that you help them lead independent, fulfilling lives it’s a great feeling. You can experience difficult times as a carer, especially when caring for people with mental health issues, but it’s still very rewarding. Over time you develop a friendship with the people you’re looking after, it’s only natural I suppose if you’re seeing people regularly, so it becomes even more meaningful.
How has Elunow adapted to ensure safety and control during this pandemic?
We’re seeing more and more people looking for help and support because it's harder for families to get to their loved ones, especially if they live some distance away from each other.
Our main goal is to make sure our caregivers and receivers are as safe and healthy as possible, so we’ve implemented new rules and a new policy for all our caregivers, including ensuring they wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, wearing suitable PPE including mask, apron and disposable gloves, maintain social distancing wherever possible and monitor there own symptoms, by taking a temperature check each morning before they begin work. Additionally, our caregivers have to inform us if they experience any symptoms or have been around any individuals who have symptoms. At that point, they’ll be asked to self-isolate in support of government guidelines.
We’ve also maintained our strict sign-up process, which all our caregivers go through when they register on the platform, so we maintain the highest quality care for our clients. All caregivers available via Elunow have completed a minimum of two years of relevant study (such as NVQ2 Health & Social Care). We interview all our caregivers, conducting thorough background checks (including DBS checks) and vetting to ensure they have the skills and experience needed to provide the services they offer.