Ira Yellen, Founder and President of iNeedHomecareNowTM, is launching his latest online product the Aging in Place Essential Toolkit™ this summer. The toolkit offers families access to live phone support, expert information, services, and products.
Ira has many years of experience counseling and providing professional services to healthcare organizations including hospitals, cancer centers, community health centers, and state agencies. He has provided guidance about integrated marketing strategies, online marketing and branding, and has advised home care agencies about Internet strategies to help them find new clients and recruit staff.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: How did you develop the business concept for the Aging In Place Essential Toolkit.
IY: My life as a caregiver was recently tested when my 92-year-old mother, who lived in Florida, fell and fractured her femur. As her condition deteriorated rapidly over the following eight weeks, my sister and I dealt with more than 50 health care professionals, Medicare, Medicaid, and her state’s healthcare system. Poor rehab management lead to additional bone fractures and ultimately the incurable infection that ended my mother’s life.
Going through this stressful caregiving experience, which millions of families go through every year, showed me there was not a user-friendly online caregiver “roadmap.” I learned that having a caregiving plan prior to an unexpected medical situation may have lengthened my mother’s life. I know it would have minimized her pain and helped our family better manage the daily stress and complexities of caregiving.
Based on this and healthcare professional experience, I came up with a goal: To help families with a common sense, easy-to-use caregiver “roadmap” toolkit.
From there, I developed the Aging In Place Essential Toolkit, which is designed to help you or a loved one successfully age in place and manage the challenges of family caregiving and for aging adults (Baby Boomers) who need to start their aging in place planning.
IDH: Describe your company mission—how are you meeting that goal?
IY: There has to be a better approach to family caregiving, the “stepchild” of our healthcare system.
Families in the beginning stages of caregiving often don’t know where to start. Healthcare providers may be good at the clinical and medical side, but when it comes to advising families, they are on their own. They may get advice and referrals from their family doctor, their parents’ geriatric specialist, other family members, and friends. Many times the advice does not fit the situation. They are left on their own to figure it out, and many times they search for options online .
The problem is, there’s no one source of information or one-size-fits-all solution. It’s overwhelming for families to gather, analyze, and follow advice for an elder whose needs are continually changing.
IDH: How does your solution help?
IY: Caregivers face many challenges. The Aging In Place Toolkit can help by providing unpaid families with resources and options to address significant challenges they face on a regular basis, such as:
- Competing demands (work/home)
- Family conflict (intra-family demands)
- Financial resources (limited discretionary money)
- Mental and physical stress (primary caregiver)
- Time management (balancing primary caregiver needs and other responsibilities)
IDH: Tell us about your target market.
IY: The target groups the Aging in Place Toolkit provides support services to include:
- Baby Boomers who do not have a need for immediate caregiving services, but would benefit from future aging in place planning advice
- Nearby caregivers who need immediate advice and information for a loved ones or their own specific caregiving needs
- Out of state caregivers who want alternative caregiving options for additional resources and support services
IDH: What are the future plans for the startup?
IY: The short- and long-term business goals include:
- Building an online network of community family caregivers who want to share experiences and learn from each other how to be an effective caregiver
- Offering aging in place products and services for families that are planning, implementing, and managing their current or future caregiving options
- Working with associations and businesses that are part of the digital health care system that provide tools and support for families.
- Analyzing the data from users who visited or purchased our website/app, the services and products to improve the user experience
IDH: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a startup? Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?
IY: I have a thriving marketing and public relations firm, First Experience Communications, but I always wanted to create a consumer-focused product and service based upon my 30-plus years of working with the healthcare industry.
I have been a mentor, angel investor, and advisor to many startups, and even though I knew creating a new company would take time, I experienced the many fits and starts that go with being a startup.
Putting the right team together is primary for a startup to succeed. It took me a few tries, and that is why my team and I believe we got it right this time. Finding dedicated investors is key to proving your business model is viable.
IDH: Tell us about your involvement in Greater Hartford’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
IY: I have been involved in the Greater Hartford entrepreneurial ecosystem for more than 15 years. I am on the board of the Connecticut Technology Council, was an early supporter of reSET, and am involved with the MetroHartford Alliance’s entrepreneurial initiatives.
Many times it has been a challenge, but there is a group of dedicated people who believe in making the Hartford region a place that encourages entrepreneurism. It is not easy, but it took even Boston more than 15 years to achieve it. I am positive we can succeed here.