Support from an unlikely place.
Added on Tuesday 13 October 15
To understand this review I think some extra context is needed.
My friends are amazing and do the majority of my care & support.
Since I left supported living a number of years ago I have had a few different arrangements but my friends have been the backbone of my support network.
At times it’s been a struggle. My boyfriend who use to live with me once left a job as the support gap in the evening was causing issues. In hindsight we should have found more support then but we were to proud.
When I got ill late last year this really stretched the limits of my network and it broke down a bit. In January I had to find a new solution.
What happened was that a friend moved in too live with me. He didn’t pay any rent in return for providing support.
He’s a busy man so we looked at finding support to fill in for nights when he wasn’t free. Someone to keep the routines going, keep me safe and help me be comfortable at home.
At the time we joked we needed a babysitter. Little did we know how accurate that would be…
I didn’t set out to find a babysitting website. It happen by accident. I was doing a Google search for something like ‘autism adult support harrow’ and on the 3rd or 4th page there was a profile from the FindABabysitter.com website.
The lady on the profile sounded perfect. She had experience of autism and adults and lived half a mile away. Awesome.
While the profile was good the site itself left a very bad first impression.
It forced me to sign up to get the profiles contact details. Then it forced me to ‘place an advert’ (I create a vague one liner), then after all that it stuck up a paywall.
I gave up. I was angry.
However the following morning Anna (one of the sites support people) emailed me about my advert. Asking for more details.
I explained I was an adult and just wanted one phone number and she was kind enough to supply it without charging me.
She then suggested I explain in the advert what I was looking for and see what happens. (I did giggle a little when I clicked the ‘5+’ box for age of person being cared for ;))
What happened next was awesome. Within a week we had 4 decent replies.
A friend then helped me interview a couple and hey presto we were sorted. We hired the very lady who’s profile started the whole thing in the end!
She has turned out to be one of the very best things I ever did. Her support varied between popping in for an evening every now and then to being there everyday for 2 weeks while my friend was away.
In hindsight I should have done this a long time ago. Perhaps it would have saved my old support structure. Ah well.
Anyway, the lady we hired was great and over the 6 months I was in Harrow she proved absolutely amazing.
Since then I have moved, and just last month we used the site again to hire a ‘babysitter’ nearby and we have again found someone amazing. As it happens were meeting them tonight after two weeks of discussions over email between them, my friends and me.
So that’s how we have used the site. Finding support has been much much easier and it seems there’s not really an age limit on the babysitting side of things after all.
So with the backstory out of the way. How about the site itself?
Generally the site works well. Posting an advert is easy enough and searching for babysitters is also straight forward. You can contact a babysitter you like with a link to your advert which is a nice touch.
Babysitters can also find adverts and contact you so it works both ways.
Both adverts we have posted have had good responses. Often within a day or two.
The site is expensive at £25 a month. However they make up for it in part as the support offered is outstanding.
Anna who helped me with my advert was great. We exchanged dozens of messages over the period of about a month as I had various questions.
They were very supportive, very friendly and all around fantastic.
The main bad bits are things like the paywall. It’s not until you have signed up the site reveals the pricing. This is really bad and does the site a massive disservice.
I wonder how many prospective users it loses due to the paywall being a bait and switch. User who are then angry and won’t continue because they feel lied too. That’s how I felt.
The site can also be very very slow. The messaging system works great but it can take 30 or 40 seconds to send a message which is crazy slow.
Finally, within an advert all the formatting is stripped. Including line breaks. So any advert turns into a hard to read block of text. Eww.
Despite the technical annoyances the site is Very Very Good.
Ultimately it has found me good support and with it also saved my friendships and that is fantastic.
While the signup process is enraging I do trust the site. I am tempted to use their payroll service should I ever need too.
The pricing is expensive so I only have an active membership when I am looking. It seems when I want to cancel I am going to have to phone them so let’s hope that process is painless.
In summery, if you are autistic and struggling don’t overlook the site because it has ‘babysitter’ in the name. The site does other types of support too.
And secondly don’t underestimate the power of having a bit of extra support.
This site has been life changing for me in its own way and I don’t think I could give it any better an endorsement than that.