New respite and post-hospital care service launches

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A Wellington woman has launched a unique new matchmaking service connecting people needing a rest, or somewhere to recuperate after a hospital stay, with homeowners willing to host them.

CaringStay has launched with 16 hosts on its books mainly spread around the North Island, but with South Island options also coming on stream. Its doors are now open to paying guests.

Under the CaringStay model hosts provide comfortable and secure accommodation in their homes for guests who may be recuperating or just need a break. The services offered vary depending on the property and the hosts.  For instance, some are female-only, some can cater for more than one guest at a time, while the hosts may or may not be present full-time while a guest is staying. Guests can choose which offerings suit their particular needs and property accessibility is a priority.

Founder Lizzie Scott says CaringStay focuses on providing “a bed, food and comfort”, but doesn’t provide medical care or services, with guests needing to seek qualified healthcare professionals for that.  She describes the service as “Air B&B plus”, giving guests somewhere comfortable to recuperate or rest, with meals available and someone keeping a watchful eye out for them.

“The host might help them down the hallway to the bathroom, but they won’t help them clean themselves,” Scott says.

The idea came about after Scott, who has multiple sclerosis, had several colleagues who struggled recuperating at home alone after hospital stays. One man described having three nights “lying there sore and miserable, cold and hungry,” because he preferred not to tell the hospital staff he had no-one at home to help look after him.

“Another colleague talked about the day she went home from hospital by herself. As the door shut behind her and she started climbing the stairs, she told herself to hold on tight to the banister as if she fell, no one would find her for a week,” Scott says.

Meanwhile, Scott watched her mother and her friends living in lovely homes with spare rooms but having to carefully “watch their pennies” due to the rising costs of insurance and other day-to-day expenses. Well into retirement, they often didn’t have the option of returning to work to top up their income. She thought matching these retirees with the respite or recuperating guests could work well and believes it could also be a useful service for new Mums needing a break from busy family homes.

Scott interviews all potential hosts, checks two references for them, as well as getting a Ministry of Justice check. She also checks over photos of the property, including accessibility features.

“(The hosts) are all homeowners, retired, or at least one of the owners will be. They have a spare room and by and large want to do the right thing and help people out, as well as make some money.”

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