Caring.com was founded in 2007, and quickly became a leading online destination for those seeking information and support as they are caring for aging parents, spouses, and other loved ones. On their site, they provide extensive information on various health conditions, advice on handling money issues, and tips on caregiver wellness. They also have caregiver support groups, a senior care option database, and personalized help from trained Family Advisors.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with Caring.com President and CEO Andy Cohen to gain insight into the Caring.com mission, and find out the latest on their acquisition by Bankrate.com, a personal finance content aggregator and distributor.
Cohen found the inspiration to create Caring.com in his personal struggle as a long-distance caregiver for his mother, who had fallen sick with cancer. During his time as a caregiver, he found himself scouring the Internet for information, but he came up woefully short. “I saw a need in people caring for aging parents,” he said. So, he used his undergraduate degree in History from Stanford, his MBA from Northwestern, and his two decades of successful Silicon Valley startup experience to start the company he knew would help countless caregivers.
Since its inception, Caring.com has risen through the ranks, and emerged as a top information source for caregivers. Bankrate saw this potential, and recently acquired Caring.com for $54 million. We found it curious that a personal finance site acquired a caregiver information site. But, when asked how he might have elected Bankrate to acquire Caring.com, Cohen made the reasons clear. “We had several folks interested in buying Caring.com,” he told us, “Bankrate shares a similar editorial approach, where they provide consumers information to make decisions,” (just as Caring.com does). He also added that Bankrate and Caring.com “have similar audiences—they tend to be people in the 40s and 50s. This is the same for Caring.com.” Simply put, Bankrate and Caring.com share “overlap in vision and audience,” making it a perfect union.
Cohen’s role as President and CEO at Caring.com won’t change at all, since Caring.com is to operate as a standalone of Bankrate. “The only thing that’s changed,” he explained, “ is that we have a lot more resources to grow. Because of cross-promotion and PR, we will grow a lot faster now. But there will be no change in direction or focus.”
One of these areas of focus is addressing caregiver questions. Cohen asserted that the biggest challenge for today’s caregivers is “figuring out what the decisions are, and the what the best choice is. Most caregivers aren’t sure what to do.” When asked specifically about senior care placement, he told us “People know how to buy a car or a bicycle, but often don’t know what to look for in senior care. It’s a difficult purchase decision that people have not made before, and they need help figuring it out.” Caring.com addresses these challenges by providing “content to help them understand, and access to ratings and reviews so they make good decisions. (…) Whether it’s talking with someone or getting written information, we show [caregivers] all of the resources in their area—not just the ones that advertise at Caring.com.”
Since Cohen has extensive knowledge on caregiver information and care placement, we asked him what he thought might be the most important thing for a care-seeker to keep in mind when looking for skilled nursing care for a relative or friend. “There’s a lot of variation in quality,” he said, “and you need to do your homework. Visit 4 or 5 places, interview the staff carefully, and be very thoughtful in your decision.”
There are no government ratings (except in skilled nursing), so it might be difficult to know whom to trust with information regarding the quality care facilities. Cohen states, “The only people to trust are in the community. That’s why we think consumer ratings and reviews are important. Only the people with loved ones in the facilities know—you can learn a great deal from them.”
Companies like Caring.com and OpenPlacement have the common goal of improving the lives of caregivers, and those receiving care. For this reason, Cohen loves his job. “We get to help people. We get hundreds of thank-you notes every month from people with a difficult decision and choice.”
Do you know a Health Care Trailblazer? We are constantly on the lookout for those who are making big waves and especially in the aging space. Nominations and suggestions for future leaders to interview can be submitted to us via Twitter @OpenPlacement. See all those we have interviewed in the past here.