Companionship startup Papa growing reach in employer market

After building out its reach in Medicare Advantage and Medicaid, Papa is expanding its companionship services in the employer market.

The goal, the company said in an announcement, is to support workers in their caregiving duties. Three in four US workers have a second "unpaid job" as a caregiver, a burden that is especially felt by the "sandwich generation" that's caring both for aging parents and for children.

Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent over 65 and are either raising for financial supporting a child, Papa said.

The pandemic has only strengthened the need for caregiver support, as the increased demand on caregivers has forced many to leave the workforce entirely.

"For employees, the impossible balancing act between one's work and family roles impacts them, their dependents, and ultimately, their employer," said Andrew Parker, founder and CEO of Papa, in a statement. "Papa has shown success with Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members in terms of reduced loneliness and improved health, and we believe there is tremendous opportunity to extend our model to flexible family care, for help when, where, and how it's most needed."

Eligible employees can request a Papa Pal through an app and will be able to note their "favorite pals" so that the platform can maintain continuity. Papa Pals can assist with social care, such as providing companionship, as well as providing transportation, helping out around the house and running errands.

Papa said employees can use these services to care for seniors or children, or for a respite themselves.

Papa has existing partnerships with many major payers and has also built out a virtual care platform called Papa Health, that provides primary care, urgent care and chronic care management programs.