Performance driven
Daniel Schlör & Benedikt Zacher

Germany realized how much its healthcare system depended on foreign workers.

It ‘s trendy to blame technology for the current ills of our societies. However, as always, the reality is more complex. The health, economic and social crisis that we have been going through since last March proves it: many startups are currently at the forefront to bring concrete solutions to the daily life of the Europeans and to allow the greatest number of people to emerge stronger from this period by making certain models evolve.

From Germany, Daniel Schlör, founder of Sunacare, and Dr. Benedikt Zacher, member of the management team, shed light on the challenges posed by the pandemic to the homecare system. Action!

How did the lockdown affect your business, and how did you respond?

We were prepared internally, due to the nature of the business. Sunacare connects families with home health aides. It’s a people business that we optimize as much as possible through processes and technology. Sunacare’s infrastructure, communication and marketing tools, customer service and quality control… everything is designed for maximum remote collaboration. From the first lockdown, these tools allowed the teams to work efficiently.

The real difficulty came from the closure of the borders in the East, especially Poland, where most of our homecare workers come from for work periods of 6 to 12 weeks. Public transport networks were cut off, administrative procedures slowed down, and there were many uncertainties. Would they be able to come to Germany and join the families and elderly people who rely on them? Would these same families accept help from abroad — potentially at risk?

We reacted on two fronts: on the one hand, by communicating as best we could with the families to keep them informed in real time, thanks to a dedicated communication system. On the other hand, we approached the authorities to obtain as much information as possible, and especially exemptions so that caregivers could cross the border. These efforts paid off: the workers were soon able to come and work in Germany, even if the situation remains unstable.

Has the crisis accelerated some of Sunacare’s projects?

Definitely. The quality of a service activity, especially in healthcare, depends directly on the performance of the teams. So the pressure is very high. To secure the cross-border aspect of our business, we have accelerated the development of the brand in Poland. Manage remotely is no longer enough: we need on-site management, with a strategic vision and the ability to make the right decisions.

Will the German homecare market change with the crisis?

Home care is already well developed in Germany, but the market is still largely informal. Our mission is to offer a legal and digitalized option to all families who want it. With the crisis, the public has become aware of the advantages of this offer: the remote recruitment of qualified caregivers, clear communication, and automated processes are real assets. Sunacare also ensures that all administrative procedures are followed, including the registration of the caregiver with the Polish health system. This makes a difference.

On a more macro level, the country also realized how dependent the health care system was on foreign workers — and therefore on solutions like ours. When Poland closed its borders without warning, the risk of collapse became very clear. This crisis has given us food for thought about the situation in old people’s homes, about old age, dependency and loneliness, all of which are challenges we want to address as best we can. and as soon as possible.

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