The newest kid on the block
Coddle offers medical accompaniment as well as befriending for seniors.
BY: Eleanor Yap
There has been a flurry of home-care services coming to the fold over the past few years and it hasn’t abated. The newest kid is Coddle, an idea that came out from the inaugural LeapForGood programme by the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprises (raiSE) and which they became a finalist and was awarded impact funding of S$100k to accelerate their social venture.
Run by six individuals including two doctors who are all ex-colleagues and one who is an ex-family caregiver, the company’s day-to-day operations is led by Adrian Chan, 28, and Robin Tan, 36. The two are long-time volunteers with experiences working with seniors in Singapore.
Coddle offers medical accompaniment (or also known as medical escort) as well as befriending services to seniors. “Coming in, we already knew there were a lot of players in the market but we wanted to address the gaps that we have identified and hence the different services. We saw a lack of focus in the medical escort space and we wanted to also offer befriending services, a service which is not too commonly offered,” explained Adrian. Though the company started their services in March this year, they have completed 150 hours since March to May.
Their medical accompaniment is the company’s most popular service. Adrian explained the need for such service: “Family caregivers are mostly working and they cannot take leave as sometimes the appointments are regular.” Here, trained “coddlers” will accompany the seniors to medical appointments usually for three hours – picking them up from home and ensuring they are well-looked-after till they are home. Upon the family members’ request, coddlers will also note down instructions by physicians, making sure the family members are kept informed. The coddlers can also stay with the senior when he or she sees the physician and make sure he or she understands his or her medication regime.
The other service they offer is befriending where the coddlers accompany seniors for daily activities, i.e. getting a haircut or taking them on their daily walks in the park. They also provide a keen listening ear for the seniors when home caregivers are busy at work. Robin shared an ad-hoc case where they had to do befriending for two days straight as the senior had a fall and needed someone to be around. He added that it was mostly companionship as well as meal preparation, and the senior really enjoyed having someone to talk to.
Coddle also offers basic home-care services such as showering, toileting, feeding and meal preparation. Explained Robin, “This is secondary from our main services as people do ask for this, and we want to help within our capabilities. However, we make sure that these cases are served only by coddlers who have nursing experience”. He added that the charges for Coddle’s services are S$19 per hour. With complex cases when there is a need for a nursing professional then the costs go up to S$23 per hour.
So who are these coddlers? Adrian explained that coddlers come from diverse backgrounds. There is a thorough process involved in “handpicking” the coddlers. After a review of their application and CV, they are then put through a series of interviews. Finally, an assessment is done of the potential coddlers by a trainer during a seven-hour caregiving training programme where the trainer will give feedback on how they have performed.
Through the caregiving training, they are equipped with the basic essentials such as communication skills, transferring skills and the use of mobility aids. Adrian shared that currently the company has 28 coddlers, of which 30 percent are current and ex-family caregivers and the remainder comprises of students, housewives and retirees. The youngest is a 19-year-old, while the oldest is in his 60s. By and large, the coddlers are able to handle most dialects and major languages. “All of them have a lot of passion in eldercare, especially the retirees, and want to care for someone. Financially some of them are not worried but want to do something and give back to society,” explained Adrian.
On the coddler’s first assignment, either Robin or Adrian will accompany the coddler and then he or she will be on his or her own for subsequent assignments. Each coddler is also armed with a coddler starting kit, which contains instructions and guidelines on what to do for their assignments.
There are also checks in place for service quality and safety. The company provides simple questionnaires that both coddler and family members have to fill out after each assignment. To ensure the safety of its coddlers, Coddle also checks in with each coddler during the assignment to make sure all is well. Moving forward, the seniors and family members can rate and review the coddlers and this information can be seen by other customers once they sign in on the Coddle platform.
Also on the Coddle platform, the family members and seniors can browse through the profiles of different coddlers and their descriptions before booking directly with the preferred coddler. Alternatively, they can also contact Coddle to get a coddler matched to their requirements. “Currently, the fastest that we have gotten a confirmed coddler arranged is one hour!” said Adrian.
He added that soon, more improvements will be made such as automated booking notifications to the coddler and a mobile app so that clients can book a Coddle service on-the-go.
This kid may be new but it means business and is here to stay.