Member profile

Founder of Myfolks, Louise Thompson, tells us how her successful business model evolved to meet a growing need …

I’ve lived in East Grinstead for over 20 years, but grew up in Newcastle upon Tyne and that’s where my parents remained. In 2017 I held a senior corporate role in Hampshire. Travelling there most days was challenging but I enjoyed the work.

My ‘triangle of hell’ was formed when my parents became frail and began suffering from dementia.  I was now moving between three counties on a weekly basis.  Whichever county I was in, I felt I ought to be in two others.   I compromised my health, job, financial security and, I am ashamed to say, I was so tired at the wheel that I may have risked the health and safety of others.  The pressure of trying to care for my elderly parents was immense.

It was simple things they needed – the TV is ‘broken’ when they couldn’t use the remote control, or they had received post (sometimes just an advertising flyer) that was causing huge concern.  Small things that seemed like big emergencies to them and easily sorted, but for the 325 miles between us …

I realised that isolation and loneliness was a huge contributing factor to my parents’ condition.  They didn’t want me to simply fix the TV – they wanted me there, to chat, to put the kettle on and provide some human anchoring.

While my parents’ situation placed a great strain on me personally, similar scenarios were playing out across much of the world as our population ages – creating health and financial costs, as well as emotional ones.

Isolation is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.  There is a 32% increase in cardiovascular disease as a result of isolation.  It can also lead to anxiety and depression.

This led me to set up Myfolks in February 2023 to provide a digital, compassionate concierge service to link elderly people with human support.  It helps family members to remain in their own homes.

Our ‘Myfolksers’ are all enhanced-DBS and reference checked.  They are paid decently for the work they do. They do light household tasks but the main thing is to connect, by chatting and sharing a pot of tea.

We are part of the National Innovation Centre for Ageing’s Internet of Caring Things cluster of businesses.  We have also been selected as part of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme, the first such programme to include those with lived experience as a patient or carer.  We are developing a Myfolks portal to support hospital discharge, and an additional AI solution relating to isolation.

We can be found at www.myfolks.uk or by calling 0333 004 5922.
A Myfolks visit is £25 and can be booked as a single visit or multiples.

Author: Fiona Bewers
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