Agewell Featured in Fast Company - From Cardiff To Cuba: A Global Search For The Best “Cultures Of Health”

AgeWell Global, based in Washington, D.C., is pioneering a model of elder-to-elder peer care. It hires adults 55 years-plus to help look after other older adults, who are somewhat more frail. Agewells–as the part-time community health workers are known–visit their peer mates at home, offering friendship and support, and gathering basic health information, which they enter into a mobile app. The app has an algorithm that crunches the data and triggers automatic doctor referrals, if the condition warrants it.
AgeWell aims to be an early warning system of potential health problems before they become full-blown health problems. By keeping tabs of elders at home, it hopes to cut expensive hospital or emergency room visits. At the same time, it also provides employment for Agewells, who are retired, or semi-retired, and may themselves feel the need for more social interaction.
“It’s a win-win-win because we’re hiring older people to do this, because our clients are healthier for longer periods of time, and because the medical system can reduce costs,” says Jack Downey, managing director of the startup, in an interview.
RWJF is planning to sponsor a pilot of the program and other trials are already underway in New York City (on the Lower East Side) and in Cleveland.
Downey says clients are more likely to open up about their problems to their peers than their own families. “Would you tell your son or daughter what you’re issues are. Maybe. But it’s more likely you’ll tell your peer with whom you have a relationship. We find that they open up a bit more,” he says.
AgeWell, one of several “elder concierge” startups, grew out of a program in South Africa called mothers2mothers. Founded by a Mitch Besser, an obstetrician and gynecologist, M2M employs HIV-positive mothers to counsel pregnant women about not passing on the virus to their children (either during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding). It now serves about 20% of the world’s HIV-positive mothers with its peer model.
“Mitch’s dad got sepsis, and he felt bad that no one was checking in on him when a $5 antibiotic would have stopped him from going to hospital,” Downey says. “He wondered if the same peer companionship model could be used with the elderly population of the United States where many people don’t get the right attention that they need to make sure they are healthy and well.”
Adds Downey: “We think this peer-to-peer model will prove effective in the long run if we can reduce the incident rate of people going to hospital and we  can delay the onset of more serious diseases and reduce the overall cost of the health system.”
Read more here (you will be redirected to Fast Company)