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Tech-enabled care solutions to transform caring for the elderly

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), its innovation laboratory IDB Lab and IDRC have launched a partnership to generate knowledge on tech-enabled care, also known as caretech, to help transform the care economy across Latin America and the Caribbean.
An elderly woman sitting on a bed and wearing a protective mask holds a digital tablet as she receives a charging cord from a woman who is also wearing a mask.
Daniel Balakov

The partnership seeks to support the development of quality and affordable caretech solutions to train care workers, deliver caregiving and offer care-dependence prevention services for older people in the region. The goal is to enhance the scalability and impact of these solutions and promote decent jobs for care workers.

Care work is the hidden engine of our economies. Yet, it remains undervalued and unrecognized. Tasks such as domestic work, caregiving and household responsibilities are primarily handled by women, who dedicate three times more hours to these unpaid activities compared to men. Moreover, approximately 90% of paid care workers are women, and the sector is marked by extremely precarious working conditions, often in the informal sector without contracts or social security.

This partnership will prioritize caretech for the elderly. The International Labour Organization estimates that aging trends in Latin America and the Caribbean will generate 2.4 million new jobs in the next decade to meet the increased demand for elderly care. As limited public spending in care-related services creates inequalities, there is a need for both public- and private-sector action to meet demands in an equitable and inclusive manner. 

Fundación Arturo y Enrica Sesana and the Group for the Analysis of Development will carry out the project. They will hold contests to identify the most innovative caretech solutions led by business startups and other organizations. Their support for these solutions will aim to deepen their social impact, through the availability of decent jobs and improved care services, and strengthen their business models for scaling.

“We are very excited about this collaboration to tackle important challenges around the care economy that will also come with huge opportunities,” said César Buenadicha, chief discovery officer at IDB Lab. “IDRC’s financial and technical contributions will for sure enhance the joint effort to support innovative startups and other actors in the region.”

The research will study the social impact of these solutions, the economic sector serving the needs of older people — known as the silver economy — and the regulatory and policy frameworks governing caretech for the elderly.

“We need to make sure that the region’s growing demand for elderly care is met by recognizing unpaid care work done by women and creating decent job opportunities for them. This partnership with the IDB and IDB Lab brings the care and silver economy agendas together, to ensure that a flourishing silver economy can also be an opportunity for gender equality,” said Erin Tansey, director of Sustainable Inclusive Economies at IDRC. 

Learn more about IDRC investments in the care economy