By Loni Nannini
Help is on the way for employers and employees facing child- or adult-care issues. Corporate CARE Solutions uses high tech to come to the real-time rescue of those in need of backup care.
“We are like a work ‘life preserver’ that many employers don’t know is available. We started out as a backup care company that needed technology, and now we are a technology company that does backup care,” said Sharon Lurtsema, founder and CEO of Corporate CARE Solutions.
Launched in 2014, the Tucson-based company provides high-quality child and adult backup care nationwide to companies of all sizes. Its roster of clients includes Tucson Medical Center, Vantage West Credit Union, 23andMe and the United Nations Foundation in Washington, D.C..
Lurtsema began building a career around caregiving 30 years ago when she left a job at the University of Arizona to become a nanny for a prominent family in New York City.
“Caring for others is at the core of who I am. It is no coincidence that ‘care’ is the middle name of my company,” said Lurtsema.
After returning to Tucson in 1992, she leveraged her passion into a business called Choice Options, which she started from a bedroom in her father’s house. The company continues to provide nannies, adult companions for the elderly and domestic services.
Corporate CARE Solutions evolved naturally as an effort to combat the loss of earnings, time, productivity and revenue that results when an employee’s caregiving arrangement is disrupted. Care challenges cause a variety of problems ranging from tardiness and absenteeism to distraction and decreased productivity. These disruptions directly impact employees, their employers, and, ultimately, taxpayers.
“This is a multi-billion dollar problem. We truly believe that every employer needs backup care for its employees. At some point, all employees experience a breakdown in care – whether it is for a child, for an elderly parent or grandparent, or for a spouse recovering from an accident or illness. We specifically don’t call it elder care because it is for any adult over the age of 18,” said Lurtsema.
She experienced firsthand the difficulties associated with work and life challenges when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. Five surgeries and 15 months later, Lurtsema was in remission. She credits her commitment to running her company for pulling her through the “tunnel of darkness.”
“In retrospect, it was probably one of the best things that happened to me. An illness like cancer changes your gratitude and your direction and your appreciation. It emphasized that caring for others is totally what drives me,” Lurtsema said.
Since then, growth for Corporate CARE Solutions has centered around two factors: creation of a technology platform that could serve the nation and development of a nationwide network of highly vetted, dependable care providers.
The result is the company’s exclusive Human Touch platform that allows employees, employers and care providers to access care when and where they need it. The user-friendly platform includes a mobile app that allows employees to submit a “Care Request” in less than one minute. There are additional features: no annual prepayment or minimum utilization requirements, pay-as-you-go hourly billing and a comprehensive human resources portal with real-time reporting features.
The My Choice Care Program allows users to select specific caregivers or daycare centers when a known caregiver is paramount. Pet care providers and nationwide tutoring support services are also available.
Lurtsema said the award-winning technology also delivers the fastest fulfillment times in the industry. She likens it “to a ride-share app for backup care.”
That technology became even more significant with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when homes became classrooms/offices and employees faced disruption of standard channels of care.
Lurtsema said that Corporate CARE Solutions stands at the ready to provide care in employee homes, as well as at hotels and other locations when employees travel.
“Going to work has taken on a whole new meaning, since that may now mean a corner in someone’s home or in the bedroom with the door closed. We can send a caregiver to the living room to orchestrate homework for children or to make grilled cheese sandwiches or help with laundry. Whether you work at home or need to leave the home for work, we can send caregivers to meet you where you are,” she said.
Ultimately, Corporate CARE Solutions delivers a boutique approach to backup care, which Lurtsema said has “shifted from a luxury- or golden-carrot benefit to a necessity.”
She has further tailored the business to fill employers’ short-term and emergency needs with three- and six-month contracts in addition to longer plans. The program can be implemented in 24 to 72 hours.
“We know one size fits none, so we customize every approach to meet the exact needs of every employer. Maybe it goes back to cancer, but when you get a second chance on life, you absolutely need to make sure you do it right. I want employers to be treated the way I want to be treated,” she said.