VANCOUVER ISLAND – For those of us with aging parents, ensuring quality-of-life and applying care can be a full-time job. However, many people live far from their loved ones or don’t have the time or resources to provide the support seniors may need. Thankfully, there is now an app for that.
Tuktu is a Vancouver-based technology company that offers an intuitive, multi-purpose digital platform for seniors to connect with other members of their community.“
Tuktu started during covid – our founder and CEO Rustam Sengupta is originally from India and has worked in renewable energy until he moved to Canada,” said Hannah Tepoorten, Customer Experience Manager at Tuktu. “After volunteering at his church and wishing he could be doing more for his own parents abroad, he realized there were simple care elements seniors needed but weren’t getting.”
From this need, Tuktu was born. The company name, “Tuktu,” comes from the Inuktitut language and means Caribou, an animal that is a vital part of the local culture and is a spiritual connection to the land the Inuit people live on. Within the company, “Tuktus” are local people who can help. The primary focus of the Tuktu app is to connect users with a local community member to request assistance with tasks of varying degree.
Navigating an app or new-age technologies can be difficult for seniors. That’s why the Tuktu app is built for the family caregiver and allows family members or friends to create the profile for their loved ones and have access to all the data, communications and updates that take place online.
A family member can talk direct to a willing Tuktu in their loved one’s area and get to know them personally through the app and then book services. The app provides real-time updates on scheduled daily activities and lets the family member know when tasks are completed. Additionally, Tuktu maintains an active phone line for current and prospective customers as the company finds many seniors seeking a Tuktu like to chat with representatives and discuss the process.
After launching in 2019, the company has grown substantially. The Tuktu app was first offered in Greater Vancouver and now is live province-wide with plans to expand to the U.S. and the rest of Canada. In fact, two of Tuktu’s most enthusiastic customers live on Vancouver Island.
“One is a man who lives in Parksville, he does not have any family around anymore and has suffered a few strokes but is still living independently, another is a woman dealing with early dementia,” said Tepoorten.
“Both searched out Tuktu because they needed a companion, someone to talk with and someone to help with minor jobs like selling items online, gardening, rides, and other gaps that can negatively impact someone’s life if they aren’t filled.”
All prospective Tuktu’s provide a resume and community references and have their backgrounds thoroughly checked before the onboarding process. Once accepted onto the platform, Tuktu’s can delegate how much time they have and what kind of tasks they are able to perform. Tuktus set their own rates, which the company caps to remain affordable.
At the end of the day, Tuktu is about community building.
“Seniors can meet innumerable health care professionals who come and go in their lives,” said Tepoorten. “Tuktu creates a solid network of like-minded, positive people in the community who just want to help out, do good, and improve the lives of those around them.”
By Tyler Nyquvest