Honor launched in April 2015, with an innovative take on the homecare model. What’s different about them? For one thing, Honor is big on technology, “There’s an app for that,” so to speak. But when you sit down to talk with co-founder Seth Sternberg about what makes his company so disruptive, you find that things at Honor aren’t so different. After all, when it comes to homecare, it’s always about the people—and Honor is committed to people, from the clients they serve to the Care Pros that make up their caregiving core.
Let’s start with the big numbers: In the first year and a half of business, Honor has raised $62 million through two private funding campaigns. This is no small feat for any homecare company, as most companies often struggle to wrangle in investors and capital. Sternberg and his massive team of co-founders have done a tremendous job convincing powerhouse firms and businesses to get behind their vision for in-home care. Bringing in big names such as Marc Andreessen ($15 million), Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppleman, PayPal alumnus and Slide founder Max Levchin ($5 million combined) and Thrive Capital (lead investor in a Series B $42 million round) is an exciting step for the company that also brings major legitimacy to Honor’s efforts. Sternberg says about bringing Thrive Capital, which also funded health insurance startup Oscar, in on the funding, “We are bringing folks who are more health care-oriented, which is our goal as we grow.”
Honor stands behind and invests in their caregivers, known as Care Pros. Citing the national average rate of pay for caregivers of $9.70 per hour, Honor aims to pay Care Pros at least 10 percent more than the regional averages—currently $16 per hour in the San Francisco area. When Honor began, Care Pros were contract workers, paid well, but not given a stake in the company. In January, Honor made every Care Pro a W2 employee, offering training, paid sick leave and workers’ comp. CarePros are also eligible for stock options. Says Sternberg about the decision, “When you’re an entrepreneur, you try to start things very quickly, but you don’t always know the right answer. We wanted to train our caregivers, but we learned we could not train contractors in Honor’s processes. So, we rolled them into W2 employees, and now we are able to train them and move them up in their profession.”
As part of the caregiver training process, Honor partnered with the National Parkinson Foundation and the American Cancer Society to offer interested Care Pros additional training and certification in the care of patients with cancer or Parkinson’s. These certifications ensure Care Pros are uniquely qualified to handle the challenges the job throws at them. Also, skills in condition-specific care allow Honor to better match qualified Care Pros with those clients who need specialized support.
Honor strives to match Care Pros with families who fit the same personalities and interests, in addition to providing specialized training for difficult-to-manage conditions. To do this, Honor created a software platform that sorts Care Pros by specialty, day preference and even pet allergies in order to match as perfectly as possible the Care Pro and patient. “You need to make sure you are doing your job of matching caregivers to a client’s needs. If you’re dealing with hundreds of Care Pros, a human can’t do that efficiently, but a computer can. This platform saves us money, so it saves our customers money and allows us to pay our Care Pros better,” says Sternberg.
The Care Pro app, an outgrowth of this platform, allows Care Pros to manage their schedules by seeing which clients they are matched with, clock in/out of appointments, track notes for the day (including those input by the client’s family through the Honor Family app). Care Pros who may be continuing care can access the information and the family of their client can review and share updates with relatives through an email feature overseen by Honor’s Care Managers. Honor is testing a feature of the app that would allow simple wellness checks from Care Pros, including questions about sleeping, eating and bathroom patterns, enabling family members to see how their loved one is doing.
The Honor Family app is available to those using Honor’s services. Through the app, family members can schedule a visit, see who their caregiver is, pay their bill, leave a review for a Care Pro or connect directly to a live person.
To tell the story of Honor is to tell the story of disruption. Honor set out to do homecare differently—to disrupt an industry in need of shaking up—and for the most part, they have succeeded. Yet, at the heart of the story, there are still real people caring for patients in need of a human connection. In the midst of all the talk about Honor’s high-tech approach and the worry over their highly paid (and highly valued) Care Pros being unsustainable in the current marketplace, what stands out is that Honor values their customers and seeks to make a connection. And that is what homecare is always about.
One Family's Story
Carol lives in Orange County and cares for her mother-in-law, Marguerite, who is 98 years old and suffers from dementia and short-term memory loss. They have been Honor clients since December 2015.
Carol realized Marguerite needed more help than she could give after Marguerite started calling the police night after night, believing there were intruders in her home. The police advised Carol that Marguerite needed a caregiver.
Carol chose Honor after doing an internet search for in-home care in the Glendale, California, ZIP code. She input her information in a search program, and several companies reached out to her.
“I chose Honor after speaking with Joy Maldonado. The people were so helpful and reassuring in finding the right caregiver,” says Carol about the experience. “I was desperate for something quick, but I wanted to make the right decision–because this was someone caring for my mother.”
Carol said she chose Honor because she made a connection with the people there and never felt pressured into trying to buy a product. “I just felt as if Joy really cared when I was speaking with her,” she says.
Bringing a caregiver into Marguerite’s home was not easy. Dementia made her confused and combative at first; however, says Carol, “Grace is just as sweet as she can be. Mom went from ‘I don’t want them here, make it stop,’ to ‘I just the love the people who are coming.’” The turnaround in attitude can be attributed to Grace’s patience and understanding about Marguerite’s condition, she explains.
Beyond the health and wellness notes in the Family app, Grace leaves notes for Carol that include the songs Marguerite wakes up singing, a special touch Carol appreciates. Carol doesn’t use the Family app much, beyond checking the notes and rating the Care Pros who care for Marguerite each day. Carol prefers to communicate with the Honor home office, which is always an option for families.
For Carol, the best part about Honor is that she can trust them with her mother-in-law’s safety and health. She knows that Marguerite is getting the best possible care available. She says, “Before Honor, Mom was a mess. Now, her level of anxiety has gone from sky-high to calm. She sleeps through the night instead of pacing her home.”