How did our founder Sarah Everitt’s career in healthcare and her lived experience shape MediStays?
MediStays is a healthcare travel platform developed by our Managing Director and Founder, Sarah Everitt. A nationwide service, we connect Australians and their families with the best accommodation for a hospital visit or disability-related stay.
We support a wide variety of situations, including:
- Patients on their way to hospital
- Friends or family members paying a visit
- People with a disability seeking accommodation within their NDIS plan
- A health worker supporting their patient or participant
Whatever your unique situation, MediStays makes it easy to find a safe, comfortable place to stay, so you can focus on the important things.
What makes MediStays different to accommodation booking sites?
What is it that makes MediStays more than just another Airbnb or Booking.com?
MediStays Managing Director and founder, Sarah Everitt, comes from a healthcare background. But not only that, she also has lived experience supporting her family with medical travel. And these two components both motivated and proved to her: Australia needs a platform like MediStays.
Meet MediStays Managing Director and Founder, Sarah Everitt
MediStays’ founder and Managing Director, Sarah Everitt (BMedRad, PhD), is a healthcare professional who has built MediStays from a background of working with people travelling for specialist cancer care.
Meet her Aunt Rosy, the inspiration behind our medical travel platform
The pictures of happy people sitting by the pool were the last thing Associate Professor Sarah Everitt wanted to see as she searched for accommodation options for her mum.
After a long day at work, Sarah had arrived home to unwelcome news. Her Aunt Rosy had been flown from far-west NSW to Sydney for emergency cancer surgery.
Sarah’s mum was based in rural Victoria. That meant urgent travel of more than 650km to be by her sister’s side. She had to book flights and accommodation while feeling upset and short of time. Rosy’s sister didn’t need to know about in-room entertainment or pool hours. She just wanted somewhere safe to stay, close to the hospital where Rosy was being treated.
In supporting both her aunt and her mum, our founder Sarah began to see a pattern emerging in her personal experiences. A pattern she realised she’d been seeing in her professional experience with patients and their families.
A healthcare supporting service designed with accessibility in mind
During the genesis of MediStays, our founder Sarah Everitt was working as a senior researcher at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. She had seen first-hand how overwhelming it was for patients and their families to travel long distances for specialist cancer treatment. Experiencing this tyranny of distance resonated with Sarah deeply. It brought reminders of her childhood growing up in north east Victoria.
Sarah understood that at times of huge stress and uncertainty, the barriers of geographical distance were increased ten-fold.
The task of finding appropriate accommodation close to treatment was often far more complex than it needed to be. In particular, for people coming from regional and rural Australia.
On the night of Aunt Rosy’s emergency medical flight, Sarah was looking at the Google search list of accommodation options. The results were not satisfactory, and Sarah realised people like her mum and her aunt were not being served in Australia.
It was that moment which created a spark, and would eventually become a fire. And MediStays is the result. It’s transforming the way Australians find trusted, appropriate accommodation for medical travel. It’s designed to service a hospital or specialist appointment visit, or as part of a disability support package.
Sarah’s values and ethos are imbued into the development of the MediStays platform. MediStays core values are informed from both Sarah’s background as a clinical cancer researcher, as well as walking alongside her Aunt Rosy’s health journey.
All close to our founder Sarah Everitt’s heart, MediStays centres around these core values:
What are the logistical challenges for Australians’ access to healthcare?
Like any true researcher, our founder Sarah Everitt began the MediStays founding story by developing a strong evidence base. She found study after study that illustrated the healthcare challenges Australians in rural and regional areas face. These studies showed the huge barriers to access care when long distance travel was required for specialist medical treatment.
That meant any factor to reduce accessibility barriers could improve treatment outcomes. In many scenarios, solutions include an easy, cost-effective way to find the best accommodation.
It may seem simple, but logistical challenges are an added burden to patients and their carers in multiple ways. Most especially, for those travelling long distances from rural and regional Australia.
For people who’ve never experienced a period of limited mobility, it can be difficult to understand what medical accommodation requires. Patients are often stressed and fatigued. They may also be frail or in a wheelchair.
Appropriate accommodation could mean close proximity to a hospital or specialist treatment centre. It could also mean wheelchair accessible bathrooms and bedrooms, suitable for carers to work alongside.
Most accommodation and booking platforms are not geared towards medical travellers. For patients with accessibility needs, finding suitable accommodation is difficult at the best of times. This creates additional strain on planning and logistics, purely to find accommodation that meets basic medical requirements.
What are the financial challenges for Australians to access healthcare?
Alongside accommodation needs and travel logistics, a significant aspect is confirming how everything will be funded. There can be many costs involved, including travel, accommodation and food. Sometimes, even appointments and treatments need funding or applications.
Navigating funding eligibility, what it covers, what’s required and making those applications can be challenging on its own. Then, add to that organising the many aspects of the medical trip while feeling unwell or stressed. Relieving the financial burden (referred to as “financial toxicity” in the healthcare space) is an important part of MediStays support in guests’ journeys.
Resolving logistical and financial barriers can make a life saving difference to accessing crucial treatment.
How was MediStays developed to improve accessible healthcare for all Australians?
Five years ago, our founder Sarah Everitt set to work making the MediStays platform a reality. With her husband Craig’s support, she taught herself how to build an accommodation booking website. Soon, MediStays was up and running. Sarah still remembers the feeling of elation as the first booking came through. She was on a trip away with friends in the Grampians, and it was a surreal moment.
“It was like a tiny but important first step towards validating the idea,” she says. “It wasn’t just a sense of accomplishment. It felt like proof that MediStays was meeting a real need. Even if MediStays had made just one person’s life easier, it had already been a success in my mind.”
– MediStays Managing Director and founder, Sarah Everitt.
From those humble beginnings, the MediStays founding story grew into a company that now helps Australians from all walks of life to book accommodation when they need it most.
Whether you’re a patient on your way to hospital, a friend or family member paying a visit, a person with a disability looking for accommodation as part of your NDIS plan, or a health worker supporting your patients, MediStays makes it easy to find a safe, comfortable place to stay. Often, at the most challenging time of people’s lives.
The tangible benefits of the MediStays model have long been clear, but came into sharper relief during the pandemic. With the need for quality, easily accessible accommodation showing no signs of slowing, in 2021 our founder Sarah Everitt said farewell to her research team at Peter Mac and began leading MediStays full time.
MediStays Managing Director and founder, Sarah Everitt says:
“I loved my work as a cancer researcher. But right now I know that I’m having more impact on people’s lives and helping more people in need by ensuring as many Australians as possible have access to comfortable, safe and accessible accommodation when they need it most.”
If you are an Australian needing to travel for medical care or specialist appointments? Or are you wanting to support someone who is? We might be able to help you to find suitable accommodation and organise flights or transport.
If you would like to find out more about MediStays services or see how one of our Care Navigators can help, feel free to get in touch.