A few months ago, I came across the highly energetic Stefano Selorio, CEO and founder of Carevocacy, in the startup community on Twitter. Carevocacy is a platform that matches older adults with online tech tutors. Having worked with seniors in a past life, I was aware of the digital divide. So, I had to learn more about Stefano and his company.
Brandi Holder: Stefano! Thank you for joining me today! Please tell me more about Carevocacy.
Sure! Carevocacy is a platform that matches older adults with online tech tutors. We're working to solve the digital literacy crisis experienced by older adults.
There's a lack of infrastructure when it comes to introducing a new piece of technology to older adults—we just assume they'll be able to use it. And then suddenly, you run into problems such as a lack of access to health care because they don't know how to make a telehealth appointment.
BH: I get that. I think about my brilliant grandmother completely shutting down when I put a tablet in her hands to shop online for her groceries. And I don't know, maybe it was a confidence thing, or perhaps she didn't want a family member to watch her learn something new. I was just so surprised by it. But I think that's probably common.
SS: The most challenging part of our job isn't even teaching the technology. It's bringing up confidence. For example, half of the hour-long session is the tech tutoring session. But then the other half is sometimes just conversation. It's natural to feel like older adults would have more confidence because of all their years of experience. But when you're thrown something so new into your life, especially during the pandemic, where everything moved online, it almost created this fearmongering... like if you don't figure it out, you're never going to get connected to anyone or anything again.
We remind our learners that they are investing in themselves and should be proud. Instead of being embarrassed because they can't figure out something on their phone or computer, now they have a "tech guy or gal" to help with things they don't understand.
It's a fascinating thing we are solving. What we're doing is addressing social determinants of health. And if you're unfamiliar with that term, it's the categories in our life that determine how healthy an individual is, such as access to healthcare, education, housing, or food. All those things require a form of digital literacy nowadays. Older adults should be aware of the options to order food and transportation by means other than a phone call.
BH: Wow. There's so much there to unpack. It sounds like you're like a life coach as much as a digital literacy tutor, and you are knocking down barriers to access.
SS: There is a little digging into what they're asking us to solve. Then during the next session, we build on top of it. So it's not even that we are tech support, right? We figure out where they are stuck and coach them, but they must do it themselves.
That's why I tried to make sure our brand puts the person as the hero of the story because it's been upon our learners to say, "wait a minute, I'm losing touch with what's happening in the world. I want to take control of my situation."
Let's empower our older adults to learn because, even though it feels challenging, they took it upon themselves to be learners with our service. That's the lens that I try to share with our tech tutors: these individuals put themselves in that situation because they didn't want to lose touch, which is really empowering.
BH: I love that. I think we already have a sense of the next question, but please tell us more about why you love what you do.
SS: We have a phrase at Carevocacy, "learning is ageless." And it is apparent. I love breaking the mold of what it means to be a learner.
BH: So what's next for Carevocacy?
SS: Carevocacy is looking forward to working with healthcare organizations to address social determinants of health through digital literacy. I am proud that our ongoing partnership with Humana's Conviva Care Centers allows us to do that. We can solve a problem that has been there for a very long time, and we hope to do more with other strategic partners.
Learn more about Stefano's story and company on Linkedin. He is building Carevocacy in public because his experience as a caregiver showed him something missing for older adults.
Or join the fun on Instagram, where he shares stories of his learners, partners, and supporters.
Hi, my name is Brandi Holder. I am a writer, brand consultant, and accountability coach hellbent on inspiring ambitious people to take action, aim higher and achieve runaway success.
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