On-demand caregiving platform comes to Lowcountry, partners with CofC

It’s being called the uber of caregiving, and the platform has just arrived to the Lowcountry.
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 3:21 PM EDT|Updated: May. 2, 2023 at 11:07 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - It’s being called the uber of caregiving, and the platform has just arrived to the Lowcountry.

CareYaya, a website or online app, connects families who need caregiving help for their loved ones with college students who need hands-on experience in the medical field, according to founder Neal Shah. With the platform, Shah aims to fill a gap in caregivers across the area in an affordable way while providing new opportunities for students.

The inspiration behind the platform is personal to Shah. He was in his mid-thirties when he began caring for his wife who was severely ill with cancer. At first, Shah juggled a full-time job in finance and full-time care for his wife. He ultimately quit his job, however, when he couldn’t find other quality care for her.

“I basically became obsessed with the need,” he says. “I realized how many people were going through this, and I wanted to build a solution to help people.”

Shah, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, founded CareYaya in 2021 in the Triangle area of North Carolina. The platform has since exploded across the state and has just arrived in South Carolina, namely in Columbia and Charleston.

“We’re a caregiving platform that many call the uber of caregiving,” Shah says. “We connect families in need of elder care with wonderful caregivers nearby in their area, and uniquely all of our caregivers are college students.”

The concept is simple—a family goes to the CareYaya website, sets up an account with basic information and requests care. Within 2 to 3 days, a family is matched with a caregiver.

“[The students are helping] with meal preparation, taking someone on a walk, just keeping them company,” Shah says. “Frankly, even though it’s non-medical in nature, it has a big health impact of helping prevent falls, helping prevent loneliness, depression.”

Shah says CareYaya has partnered with College of Charleston to find students like Isabella Pinchevski, a sophomore studying public health who says she was successfully accepted to be a caregiver for CareYaya.

“I’m excited to meet the patients and make a connection and just be there for them,” she says.

CareYaya is a win-win, according to Shah. Families get kind, attentive caregivers for their loved ones and students get paid while getting medical experience.

“So many of the students are getting a lot of value, not just providing care for people and making some part-time income, but also critically getting hours toward graduate school programs,” Shah says.

CareYaya is also a far more affordable option compared to traditional home care, according to Shah. Caregiving services costs about $15-18 per hour, which is about half the cost of other home care agencies.

“It’s extremely affordable, and we wanted to build something that would advance health equity for the population that often can’t afford local care agencies,” Shah says.

The students are paid directly by the families, he says, which means the money goes right into students’ pockets instead of being siphoned off to a company, a common practice for a majority of home care agencies.

“Our technology is completely free to use and you can pay the caregiver directly,” Shah says. “It’s the lowest cost care option.”

For Shah and Pinchevski, though, providing care for families is more than just a job or opportunity for school—it’s a way to help others.

“I’m really hoping that I can make an impact and let someone know that there is someone there for them and they’re not a burden,” Pinchevski says.

If you are a college student looking to get involved with CareYaya or a family looking for a caregiver for a loved one, visit the CareYaya website for more information.