Business News Opinion

The future of social care: from care homes to homecare

Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, Co-founder and CEO of Cera

As 10 million Britons alive today are expected to reach on average 100 years of age, it is becoming increasingly necessary to find ways to alleviate the pressures on our social care sector. Even more so as care homes throughout the UK are shutting down at an increasingly fast pace. Over the past decade, over 1,500 care homes – housing more than 30,000 elderly people – closed down and it is estimated that one million people with care needs are now receiving no formal or informal help.

Poor quality care has crippled the industry’s ailing reputation; and with most care agencies short-changing carers – often taking a 100 per cent mark-up – it’s hardly surprising that we’ve witnessed countless neglect scandals and carer shortages. At the same time, bed-blocking is on the rise, due to a lack of resources to help people when they’re out of hospital. Coupled with significant funding pressures, this is putting substantial amounts of pressure on our NHS. This inability to join the dots between health and social care has also resulted in an overwhelming number of emergency hospital admissions – 15 per cent of which are thought to be avoidable – costing the NHS approximately £820m every year. 

With one in six care homes at risk of closing, it is becoming more paramount that we find solutions that help alleviate these issues as efficiently and quickly as possible. Just in the same way technology has disrupted and changed the face of transportation, food delivery, and hospitality, it also has the power to transform the social care sector.

Unlike traditional care providers, Cera uses technology to provide high-quality, transparent, and efficient care services. Our platform matches those needing care with a highly experienced carer, at the right time, in the right place, reducing the long waiting times for a suitable carer, which can otherwise result in people left in hospital for days on end. Via our online platform, the patient’s loved ones can coordinate emergency or long-term care from their smartphone, as well as manage bookings, review care records, and receive updates and send messages to the carer on the go. 

Unfortunately, technology has been missing from the care industry for far too long. Having personally witnessed the challenges of caring for an elderly family member, I knew more could be done to facilitate their independence. I wanted to find a solution that would not only empower the lifestyle of our nation’s elderly but also ensure peace of mind for their family. At Cera we are trying to build this solution using digital and data, for example, we’re developing an Artificial Intelligence assistant called Martha who helps predict deteriorations in users’ health, permitting earlier intervention and more proactive care. 

In fact, a lot of the pressures the NHS face could be relieved if it embraced innovation and technology, which is why Cera is in partnership with several NHS trusts and hospitals. Partnerships with Cera that see people stay in their own home instead of moving to care homes, could be up to four-fold cheaper. Furthermore, by automating back-office logistics, which removes the hefty and unnecessary cost of admin, Cera is able to compensate carers on average 50 per cent higher than other care providers.   

Sir Nick Clegg

For our innovative work, Cera has been recognised by the Government’s Cabinet Office as a role model for innovative businesses partnering with the public sector, and as received numerous awards. Most recently, we’ve been very fortunate to have the former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg join us as Chairman of our Advisory Board. He has long been an advocate for improving social care through innovation and his vision for keeping the elderly in their homes as long as possible, instead of languishing in hospital beds, mirrors our hope for the sector. His strong stance that fresh and innovative thinking is required to meet the country’s challenges in the funding and provision of social care is a wakeup call, and we’re hoping that those in power will sit up and take note.



Edel Harris





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