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This Entrepreneur Created an App to Address the Lack of Support Caregivers Receive

Cindy Sim, founder of Team CarePal, is disrupting the healthtech industry.

Cindy Sim is an Edmonton-based businesswoman, innovator, caregiver advocate, and founder of Team CarePal, an app for unsupported caregivers across Canada. Millions of Canadian caregivers are facing increased burnout, depression, and financial insecurity. Cindy’s Team CarePal app and software fosters collaboration, simplifies resource access, and promotes mental well-being through relationships with leading care organizations across Canada by using the most innovative technology on the market and collaboration with stakeholders. 

By recognizing caregivers as a vital part of the care team, Team CarePal disrupts the relationship between them and care organizations, which helps lead to improved health outcomes, better communication, enhanced care quality, strengthened family relationships, reduced burnout, and improved caregivers’ health and well-being.

Cindy is equally dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs and mentoring professionals through various organizations, such as the Canadian Women’s Network. Her dedication to excellence and passion for caregivers have earned her recognition as a woman of influence in the healthtech industry. As a person who believes in the power of actions, not just words or thoughts, Cindy spends what little free time she has volunteering at The Ronald McDonald House, caring for families in need.

My first job ever was… working as a cashier at a bakery selling bread and baked goods. 

Before my work with Team CarePal, I was… an executive assistant for Century 21 Westcountry Realty Ltd.

I started Team CarePal because… as someone who has firsthand experience as a caregiver, the concept of Team CarePal has been a long-standing idea of mine. Growing up in a large Dutch family with a deep appreciation for our grandparents, I saw the challenges and emotional toll that caregiving can have. After spending countless days and nights coordinating caregiving duties in shifts to support our grandparents in palliative care, I was inspired to create a solution that would help other families navigate the complexities of caregiving.

I was in a transition moving to Edmonton and finishing University when COVID hit. The onset of the pandemic had a significant impact on caregivers by placing additional physical and emotional demands on them. It highlighted the critical role that caregivers play in our healthcare system and has underscored the need for their increased support, resources, and recognition. My husband looked at me and said now is the time to help caregivers. 

I’m passionate about Team CarePal because… I have personally experienced the challenges caregivers face and the mental toll it takes. It’s not acceptable that the majority of caregiving responsibilities often falls on one person which leads to exhaustion, overwhelm, and a sense of helplessness that frequently results in clinical depression. Caregivers often struggle to balance work, family, and personal responsibilities on top of providing care.

Unfortunately, the healthcare system is already under immense strain, with costs and demand for care set to double and resources becoming increasingly scarce. As burnout becomes more prevalent, the role of caregivers is at risk, and losing them would have a severe impact on the healthcare system.

I share the Canadian Center of Caregiving Excellence’s belief that Caregiving is the next frontier of public policy in Canada. This is a crisis that may touch every Canadian, and I believe through collaboration, we can make a difference.

My proudest accomplishment is… my family. While it may sound like a cliché, it’s the truth. Raising my two amazing kids to adulthood was the most fulfilling job I ever had, and I loved it. When they left the nest, I struggled with empty nest syndrome, but Team CarePal saved me. It gave me a new purpose and a way to channel my love and energy. I’m also fortunate to have an incredible, supportive husband who stands by my side and encourages me to be my best self every day.

My biggest setback was… initially, we faced challenges with the app technology and hired an app development company that was not the right fit for us. Despite researching and interviewing multiple developers, we did not get it right the first time, which is a common problem for startups. However, we were fortunate to find a fantastic app development company called Koridor Inc., and things have since worked out for the best.

I overcame it by… despite the challenges, I persevered with the help of my mentor Allan Waine from Edmonton Unlimited, who provided me with the guidance and motivation to continue. Additionally, I am fortunate to have Paisley Churchill, the chief product officer of Team CarePal, on my team. She joined the company in honor of her Nana’s memory and brought her expertise in economic development and custom software development to the table. With her insights, she knew that Koridor would be an ideal solution, and her intuition proved correct.

My best advice for anyone that cares about a cause and wants to contribute to it would be… to start by educating themselves about the issue and understanding the root causes and underlying factors. From there, they can identify the ways in which they can contribute, whether it be through volunteering, fundraising, or advocating for change. It’s also important to find a reputable organization or group to work with, and to approach the issue with an open mind and willingness to learn and adapt. Remember that every contribution, no matter how small, can make a difference and have a positive impact on the cause you care about.

The one piece of advice I give that I have trouble following myself is… prioritizing self-care. I emphasize the importance of prioritizing self-care for caregivers to help reduce burnout while also battling entrepreneur burnout myself. The stress and demands of starting and running a business are exhausting. As an entrepreneur, I often work long hours, face financial pressures, deal with uncertainty, and bear high levels of responsibility, which takes a toll on my well-being. To tackle this, I am hiring talent for Team CarePal and focusing on establishing a culture that prioritizes mental health, starting with myself.

The thing I love most about what I do is… the people I meet. The community of individuals who share a common passion for aiding caregivers and families is amazing. It’s incredibly rewarding to collaborate with so many like-minded individuals who are dedicated to making the world a better place. The people I meet every day inspire me to continue working toward our shared goal.

If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… the startup ecosystem here in Alberta. It started with acquiring the much-needed funding through TD Bank Group (TD) . This was such an important milestone for Team CarePal. Having TD believe in us and support us with the funding we needed to develop, it opened up many doors and opportunities for us to succeed. We then joined Edmonton Unlimited programs which gave us the knowledge and support to help build a solid base for our business to grow on. Then, we were able to secure grants through Alberta Innovates which gave us funding to hire talent. This ecosystem is a pathway to success for startups and for us, the pathway started with TD. We couldn’t be more grateful. 

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… I am a terrible singer; I fall over in yoga more often than I should; exploring new and exceptional restaurants is a favorite pastime of mine; spending quality time with my family brings me the greatest joy. Swimming is another passion of mine, as I often find myself immersed in water while brainstorming some of my most innovative ideas. Also, I married my high school sweetheart, and it was the best decision I ever made. 

I stay inspired by… I maintain my inspiration by actively listening to caregivers and engaging with the community that supports them. Participating in discussions and roundtable talks keeps me informed of the latest developments, and I find it exhilarating to advocate for caregivers.

The future excites me because… there was a time when I lacked a sense of identity and direction. However, now that I have found my calling with Team CarePal, I am thrilled to embark on a journey of personal growth. I enjoy challenging myself to acquire new knowledge and skills, and as an entrepreneur, there is always something new to learn.

My next step is… my next step is to continue to grow and expand Team CarePal, both in terms of its reach and impact. We are always looking for ways to improve our app and services, and to better serve the needs of caregivers and their families. This includes hiring additional team members, exploring new relationships and collaborations, and continuing to innovate and adapt to changing trends and technologies in the healthcare industry.