Infamous cancer scammer, Belle Gibson, recently told the Federal Court she was supporting herself by caring for an elderly woman in a job she found on the outsourcing website, Airtasker.
Caring for elderly family members can be difficult. Many in the situation may also be caring for their own children, and have heavy work commitments that consume their time and energy.
Caring for parents as they age can be financially and emotionally draining.
But is outsourcing the care of loved ones to the gig economy – with, in this case, the work being done by a convicted fraudster – the way we want to go?
Belle Gibson completed a police check on Airtasker – but how could this be correct? You have to question if Airtasker’s checks and balances are sufficient to protect the interests of older Australians.
Is outsourcing care the best we can offer seniors, who have done so much for us, in the final years of their lives?
Ms Gibson’s story led HelloCare to look further into Airtasker, and we found that caring for older family members is often outsourced on the site.
Using the gig economy for care of seniors
We came across an Airtasker advertiser who sought someone to pick up their elderly mother from a well-known Melbourne train station.
The poster of the ad provided her mother’s name, the train she was travelling on, and even her seat number.
With this information available to the public, could it have been seen by an unscrupulous Airtasker viewer, and used to their own advantage?
There is also the issue, of course, of placing the care of a frail and elderly woman into the hands of a stranger – who likely has little experience caring for older people.
While the person who accepted the job on Airtasker is no doubt caring and capable, there is little in the way of the poster of the advertisement really knowing this.
The poster of the advertisement did have access to more than a dozen reviews of previous tasks the acceptor of the job had done, and she also requested a phone call, so presumably they spoke.
These transactions would have given the ad poster a sense of the trustworthiness and character of the woman.
But is that enough reassurance to place the care of your mother in their hands? Did the woman have any experience in caring for older people? It doesn’t appear so.
The gig economy is not the answer
Fortunately we can see this transaction was a success.
The poster wrote a glowing review of the excellent service, care, and patience the woman who accepted the job showed her mother.
The woman who did the job said both women were lovely and she enjoyed the transaction.
But is outsourcing care of our edlerly family members on Airtasker the way we want our society to care for its elders?
It may be convenient, but if criminals such as Bette Gibson are the ones who end up providing the care, it’s clearly not safe.
Families who are struggling to care for their loved ones need better support and services. The gig economy is not the answer.