Wednesday, 24 August 2011
MBA student Casey Aburrow is putting the knowledge and skills learned in her course to the test, recently building and launching Rooms2Recovery, a website that aims to reduce the financial burden of treatment for rural patients who are suffering from severe illnesses such as cancer.
The website went live in July, and connects patients and carers living in rural areas of Australia and New Zealand with people close to treatment facilities who have a spare room they can lend at no charge. The idea is to reduce accommodation costs significantly for people in need, and to offer a non-monetary way of giving back to the community for those with a spare room. By signing up, members can either advertise their spare room, or seek a spare room to stay in.
Casey is currently studying in ECU’s MBA program, majoring in project management. Her idea for the website began to take shape in class one day when she learned of some research into cancer patients in urban and rural areas and the stresses of treatment. As opposed to urban patients, rural patients faced one extra burden in that they had to consider the cost of travelling for treatment as well as the cost of the treatment itself. This really resonated with Casey.
When considering how to solve this problem, Casey was inspired by the popular CouchSurfing website, a hospitality exchange network frequented by backpackers touring the world on the cheap and savvy travellers looking for a taste of local life. People can register on the website to offer a spare couch, bed, or room in their house to travellers, and in exchange are able to utilise others’ spare spaces on their own travels as well. She considered how this concept could be built upon to really benefit needy people in the community.
“Accommodation costs can mount up when you need to travel to a treatment centre every week or every few days. I had heard of people having to rent apartments in metropolitan areas for an entire six months to get through their treatment. I thought about the fact that for a lot of people, renting an apartment or staying in a hotel would be a great stretch on top of treatment costs. I wondered what other options were out there, and the idea that people could donate their spare rooms to help these patients. Through my research, I discovered there wasn’t already a service that could facilitate people either donating or seeking a room specifically for this purpose,” she said.
Casey then decided to create a website that would aid these people, building Rooms2Recovery.com after taking a unit in her studies called Information System Challenges in Management.
“I had a great lecturer who helped to build my confidence online, so when I came to create and manage the website I found I had the skills I needed,” she said.
With membership already growing, Casey hopes to increase this over the next few months, and particularly increase the number of people offering rooms.
“It’s really not much of an inconvenience to offer a spare bed, but to patients under financial stress it could mean the world,” she said.