Ernesti, accompany despite the pandemic. Interview with Quentin ZAKOIAN, Co-Founder of Ernesti 

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Ernesti is one of the actors who provide solutions to families with elderly people still at home. Personal assistance is one of the sectors that has emerged the most with the pandemic. Indeed, support is essential throughout the year, even in the middle of a pandemic. We were able to talk with Quentin ZAKOIAN, one of the co-founders of Ernesti, to understand how the personal assistance sector has worked during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ernesti receives the B2V award

On March 28, 2022, Ernesti is proud to announce that it has been awarded the B2V Award. The B2V award is a real recognition of the company’s commitments. Indeed, the joint social protection group B2V promotes and supports innovative and concrete actions in the service of the social and solidarity economy. The B2V prize rewards projects that support frail elderly people as well as aging disabled people.

The B2V Initiatives & Solidarités 2021 prize allows Ernesti to win 50,000 euros. A budget that will allow the company to develop the technical part of the start-up. This development will include the implementation of new features in the application. With now no less than 10,000 owls registered on the platform and 26,000 nights completed, Ernesti wants to think bigger. The start-up announces a new partnership with the mutual health and provident Mutualia Grand Ouest. This collaboration will make it possible to take 5 nights for the customers of the mutual.

Prosecuting Ernesti despite the restrictions?

The onset of the pandemic quickly raised many questions for Ernesti’s team. Working alongside students and families, the founders had to quickly find solutions. To find out what posture to adopt, they naturally turned to the families of the elderly, asking them if their intervention was still necessary.

“Following this question, we realized that 93% of families see the cessation of Ernesti’s services as a sign that their parent will then necessarily have to be hospitalized, or placed in a retirement home. Their return is clear, we must continue. Ernesti, it’s not a luxury that families offer themselves for their elderly loved one, it’s a necessity.”

The company has therefore chosen to continue its activity despite the travel restrictions announced by the Government. Indeed, their service consists of accompaniment provided by students to the homes of the elderly. A vigil from 8 pm to 8 am that avoids falls, night problems. But following the instructions is not easy, despite wearing a mask, intensive hand washing. Travel remains more than necessary.

Elderly woman home
Seniors want to stay at home as long as possible.

Precautions taken upstream to prevent the spread of the virus

As the elderly accompanied by Ernesti are at risk of the virus, Ernesti has taken all necessary precautions to avoid any transmission. The students who go to these people during the night, these “Owls“, are trained in barrier gestures. This avoids transmissions.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, none of our Owls have been a factor in the transmission of the virus. We have not had any hospitalization of anyone followed, related to Covid-19. We take all necessary precautions, and ask students who want to join us to certify on their honor that they have been vaccinated. It’s a matter of trust, and everyone is playing the game.”

And despite the pandemic, the demands are not stopping. Certainly, there are drops in demand during the waves, but despite everything, no family has decided to stop Ernesti’s intervention because of the pandemic.

“Families live on average 300 kilometers from their elderly loved one. They can not go to his home regularly, and having the presence of an Owl five nights a week allows them to be more reassured. They already have so much to deal with emotionally, we make sure to take this issue away from them, and keep them informed of the evolution of the situation regularly.”

Senior student support
Students watch over seniors during the night, to avoid falls or various problems.

A rapidly growing business

To this day, Ernesti continues to grow. The company has more than 10,000 Owls across France, for more than 2,000 nights per month. Some cities and regions concentrate more activity, such as Bordeaux, the Île de France, the Côte d’Azur or the Lyon region. About 20% of the activity is carried out in rural areas, and Ernesti would like to develop this area, where the needs are also present.

For a one-night intervention, the student earns 50€ net paid by the family. 23€ goes into social contributions, and Ernesti receives 15€. The family can choose its Owl by consulting its presentation video, which allows to see the hooked atoms, knowing that the Owls can not do more than 2 nights of wakefulness per week; so there is a relay of students, but always the same people for this trusted contact.

Ernesti has more than doubled in size with growth of 160%. The company is pursuing a development including internal structuring, as well as fundraising. This will both expand the team, but also evolve the mobile application used by families and students. Thus, stakeholders will have access to a shared calendar, to better organize the home support of a person… An essential coordination, which allows the Owls to shine at the bedside of the elderly…


Interview with Quentin ZAKOIAN, Co-Founder of Ernesti conducted on January 27, 2022

Night guard at home for the elderly| Understand everything| Ernesti

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