Digital nursing assistants
The Berlin startup Töchter & Söhne offers free online courses for relatives providing care. The company was recently awarded the vdek Future Prize for this trend-setting idea. The story of Töchter & Söhne speaks to the innovative spirit and is also typical Berlin.
About 2.9 million people are in need of care in Germany, according to the Federal Statistical Office. About 2 million of these elderly or sick people are being cared for at home by outpatient care services, but mostly by relatives, and they are often overwhelmed with the situation. “A need for care develops either creeps up on you or it hits you like a bolt of lightning. In the latter situation in particular, relatives suddenly face a mountain of questions: What should I do? Where can I get support? Who can help me? How can I pay for the care? This is where we come in,” says Florian Caspari.
The 44-year old is the CEO of “Töchter & Söhne.” The Berlin-Schöneberg-based startup won the Future Prize of the Verband der Ersatzkassen (vdek) in mid-October for its trend-setting products: Online nursing courses for relatives and volunteer helpers. “The founder, Thilo Veil, came up with the idea of Töchter & Söhne when he took a year off from his professional life and was himself confronted with a care situation. He founded the company in 2012,” says Caspari, who himself later joined Töchter & Söhne. He recruits. “Our approach is to help relatives providing care. Above all, they need quality information, emotional support, but also help with organizational issues.”
In Berlin everyone can develop as they wish. Everyone can follow their ideas here.
The interactive online courses offered by Töchter & Söhne offer fast and simple help around the clock. Certified care counselors accompany the course participants for six months and answer individual questions online. The offer is free of charge for carer providers, as the course fees are paid by long-term care insurance providers. This is also the responsibility of Töchter & Söhne. Those interested only have to register on the platform with their insurance number. It’s an all-round carefree package in the stressful landscape of private residential care. The offer hits home: With around a third of the statutory health and long-term care insurance policies in the German market, Töchter & Söhne already has contracts.
At the same time, the service of the startup is typical Berlin. The capital is not only a thriving founder-metropolis, but also “Health Capital.” The Berlin-Brandenburg region is now one of the world’s leading locations for the healthcare industry, healthcare, and life sciences. Around 300 medical technology companies, 230 biotechnology companies, 30 pharmaceutical companies, and over 130 clinics have settled here. One in eight Berliners is meanwhile employed in the healthcare industry.
Quite often innovative developments emerge at the interfaces between founder capital and health metropolis. Such as, for example, the e-health project from Töchter & Söhne. “The Berlin location has proved to be very valuable for our development,” says Florian Caspari. “It was extremely helpful that the Federal State provided us with funding through Investitionsbank Berlin. In addition, we have our finger right here on the pulse of the action in terms of digital health. Hospitals, companies, high-caliber research institutes, and most of the relevant institutions and associations are based in Berlin. There are also many networking events on e-health here. Personal contacts are essential for us.”
In order to ensure the quality of its offer, Töchter & Söhne relied on cooperation with university research from the outset. Thus, the basic care course as well as the “Dementia Special” course of the new company were developed in cooperation with at the time Berlin-based Dr. Ing. Matthias Zündel, who now works as a professor for health and care management at the University of Bremen. Töchter & Söhne is also currently working with the geriatrics research group at the Charité. Together with Matthias Zündel, the company also regularly publishes research results on the online courses. We want to show that our offer also works,” Caspari says. At present, Töchter & Söhne’s offerings include “Home care basics,” “Alzheimer’s and dementia,” and “Aged housing and care” formats.
Töchter & Söhne also uses interdisciplinarity and close cooperation internally. The startup’s team now includes ten employees. Developers, designers, and health experts are just as much part of it as business economists. “We want to have as much expertise as possible on board,” explains Caspari. The sports science graduate, who holds a doctorate in health sciences, sees great opportunities for the healthcare industry in an even closer link between science and practice. Students looking for practical experience are therefore always welcome as interns at Töchter & Söhne.
And where will the new e-health company’s journey take them next? “It would be ideal if we could get all the long-term care insurance providers on board. We also want to establish an even stronger market position with additional services,” says Caspari. The capital offers the best conditions for this: In Berlin everyone can develop as they wish. Everyone can follow their ideas here. The same also applies to startups. I think it’s really great!”
Above: ©Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin"
Middle: © Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.com
Below: © vdek/Georg J. Lopata
Und wo soll die Reise für das junge e-Health-Unternehmen noch hingehen? „Ideal wäre es, wenn wir künftig sämtliche Pflegekassen an Bord holen könnten. Außerdem möchten wir uns mit weiteren Services noch stärker im Markt etablieren“, so Caspari. Die Hauptstadt bietet dafür die besten Voraussetzungen: „In Berlin kann sich jeder entfalten, wie er will. Hier kann jeder seine Idee verfolgen. Das gilt auch für Start-ups. Ich finde das echt toll!“
oben: ©Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin"
Mitte: © Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.com
unten:© vdek/Georg J. Lopata