Home-care start-ups see demand double due to coronavirus
Companies providing carers to people's homes expect to exceed their growth forecasts for 2020 in first quarter alone
With their need for new capital in order to grow, the slow-down in business activity due to the coronavirus crisis has left start-up companies in a particularly vulnerable position.
Yet there are always exceptions, such as those firms that provide home care, which have seen demand for their services double in the past couple of weeks.
The firms consulted by the Catalan News Agency say they have expanded their workforces and expect to exceed the growth forecasts for 2020 in the first quarter alone.
One such start-up company is Qida, which offers different types of care services at home mainly in Barcelona and the city's surrounding area.
The firm says that the 25 to 30 new contracts it was seeing every week before the health crisis began have shot up to over 50 since the state of alarm was declared.
Cuideo, which provides home-care services around Spain, says it has seen a similar growth in demand, with new contracts for its services doubling to about 200 a month.
Elderly relatives taken out of nursing homes
The company says that one of the profiles it has seen most often in recent days is that of elderly people who would normally be cared for in a nursing home.
"Many families prefer to have an elderly person at home as they are aware of the risks they run of becoming infected with coronavirus," says Cuideo CEO, Roberto Valdés.
Meanwhile, Qida says it has noticed more demand for services addressing loneliness as some people cannot visit their relatives as often due to the travel restrictions.
"At times like this, there are some people who need an occasional service providing company," says Oriol Fuertes, the head of Qida.
More demand, more carers, more material
Meeting the rise in demand also means employing more staff, and Cuideo says it has expanded its pool of carers, which is normally around 40,000 people, by 20%.
At the same time, the home-care firms have had to jump through hoops to ensure a steady supply of face masks, disinfectants, and other basic supplies to avoid contagion.
Qida decided to do a wholesale purchase of materials last week, while Cuideo reached a deal with an association to provide them with the supplies it needs during the crisis.
Back to normality or a change in mentality?
With neither company giving details about revenue, Fuertes says financial results are the "last priority" and that the firm just wants normality to return as soon as possible.
However, Valdés believes that the health crisis could lead to a significant change in mentality that could provide a boost to home-care companies like the one he heads.
"Many families would put an elderly person in a home as soon as possible, but now we're seeing more sensitivity around this issue. This will strengthen our sector," he predicts.