How the Leading Companion Care Platform is Unlocking a New Workforce to Address Unmet Social Needs

A Trust and Safety Q&A with Papa and The Purple Method

It’s a looming challenge for today’s healthcare system: Americans are aging at a record pace. 55.8 million adults ages 65 and older live in the U.S., and this number is expected to double by 2060. Already, nearly 1 million “kinless” seniors have no immediate family to provide support if needed. And with a forecasted national shortage of 355,000 caregivers by 2040, millions may have nowhere to turn, forcing them to over-utilize emergency services or give up altogether. A new kind of care is needed to fill this widening gap and meet people where health happens—at home.

Papa, the nation's first curated human companionship platform to address social drivers of health, is uniquely positioned to make this shift happen. Papa’s platform connects older adults to Papa Pals, who provide social support and assistance with daily activities, like transportation, grocery shopping, and light housework, in a workplace model more aligned to ‘gig work’ than a traditional 9-5. Because human interaction and connection is at the core of Papa’s mission to create a new kind of care, the company has made ensuring the safety of its platform a priority.

Below, Jane Yu, Head of Trust and Safety at Papa, and Ally Coll, CEO of the Purple Method, share takeaways from their work to build best-in-class trust and safety solutions that enable Papa to continue transforming how health care happens.

Q: Can you tell us about Papa’s motivation for ongoing trust and safety enhancements, and why it’s important?

Jane: More than 10,000 people in the United States turn 65 every day, and it’s clear that this population needs extra support. At Papa, we’ve proven you don't have to be a doctor or nurse to improve someone’s health. Papa’s platform has enabled 2 million visits between members and Papa Pals, the everyday people we’ve empowered to bring care when and how it’s needed. The impact is tremendous: a 20% reduction in emergency department visits, 6% reduction in total cost of care, 1 in 7 hospitalizations avoided, and a brighter outlook for so many. To date, safety incidents have been incredibly rare, with 99.9 percent of visits going without a member-reported safety complaint. But even one incident is one too many. That’s why we’re hyper-focused on creating the safest platform on the market.

Ally:  As time goes on, more and more human interactions will happen on platforms like Papa—perhaps even more than in a traditional office setting, given the shift to remote work. We need strong models for how to address safety incidents in these new, emerging environments. The Purple Method partnered with Papa on a customized training program for Papa Pals that is as unique as the model it’s built on. What I’ve found from my years developing training for leading organizations, is that training and safety measures resonate most when the organization’s mission is front and center. That’s what we’ve done here, tailor training to situations that can come up during in-home visits and between people of different generations.

Q: What does the path forward look like?

Jane: Everything we do at Papa starts with the member-Pal relationship. For instance, I think about one member, a 72-year-old widow, who was able to get the prosthetic boot she desperately needed, because her Pal supported her during her many medical appointments. She can walk today because of that support. This is what grounds our work. The additional mandatory training for our Papa Pals, rooted in years of Ally’s expertise, is just one of numerous trust and safety projects we’re working on across our organization.

As another example, Papa has enhanced its background checks to be the gold standard. Every prospective Pal receives a thorough, third-party review before they are approved to provide services to our members, and annually thereafter, with continuous monitoring of criminal and motor vehicle records throughout the year. Not only do we run our Pals’ background checks through numerous technological screening, but our third-party provider also manually reviews every report. It’s incumbent upon us to not only provide a protective environment for our members, but also give our Pals the tools to be prepared for any situation that can unfold.

Ally: Preventative measures like the ones Jane just highlighted are critical, and demonstrate Papa’s unwavering commitment to get this right. But just as important is making sure Pals and members know their rights and what to do if they should ever feel unsafe. For this reason, I think it’s equally important that Papa has invested in an expanding library of required training that highlights relevant situations Pals and members might find themselves in, rather than just using an off-the-shelf anti-harassment training that might not feel relevant or realistic to its users.

Q: What do you wish people knew about your work together and how you’re setting a new standard?

Ally: I’m thrilled to be working with Papa, not only because of their incredible mission, but because of the ripple effects of their work. As a proud gender equity advocate, I’m especially interested in the impact of emerging workforce models, like Papa’s, on women in the workforce. Sexual harassment disproportionately affects women, and at the same time, women are disproportionately called upon as caregivers, both at home and as a profession. I'm encouraged by organizations like Papa that are working to solve big problems and can offer solutions to a variety of societal needs, while keeping trust and safety at the forefront.

Jane: One of the things that’s special about Papa, and what drew me to the Trust and Safety leadership role, is we have an end-to-end platform—from training Pals to supporting members directly with their day-to-day needs. This enables us to create a care experience that puts people at the center in a way no one else can. This is why we have so much opportunity to create the most effective platform to drive positive outcomes in social drivers of health for our growing aging population. 

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.