Calling a cab might not seem like a big deal, but for many senior citizens, the risks and hassle are major deterrents — leaving the responsibility of driving, in many cases, to an adult child. But not any longer, thanks to Jay Connolly.
Connolly was in college studying pre-med when he witnessed his dad and aunt struggling to juggle work and driving his grandma to her weekly physical therapy appointment (which was an hour away), since she could no longer drive herself.
He thought there had to be a better way to ease the frustration, and that’s when it dawned on him: who better to give rides to the elderly than med students.
And that’s where Lift Hero comes in. The ride service, often referred to as “Uber for seniors,” is a program designed specifically to transport seniors. All of the drivers use their own cars, and many are actually in training to be in the medical field. This gives them a leg up as they are often knowledgeable on the ailments and psychology of the elderly.
While it isn’t a requirement to be in medical school, all drivers do need to have at least first-aid certification and pass training sessions focusing on assisted living and emotional issues.
Connolly started the company after leaving medical school at Columbia University and moving back to California to join the startup Science Exchange. He then left that to start Lift Hero, which is part of the Aging 2.0 incubator – a group that has spawned other ideas such as Lively and True Link.
So far, the program exists only in California and employs up to 100 drivers, but it’s looking to expand into other areas as well.
Lift Hero isn’t just a ride business, though. The drivers offer their passengers companionship — whether it’s through conversation in the car, help walking or lunch together.
“It [provides] that extra level of trust,” Connolly tells Fast Company. “A taxi driver is still an unknown quantity and actually taxi drivers often avoid driving the elderly, because they know sometimes it will take a little longer.”