Digitalising social care: An interview with Cera

Imogen Granger

12 February 2020

Earlier this month, previous GovStart company Cera Care acquired Mears Care in a deal worth more than £30m. The acquisition will boost Cera’s employee numbers to 2,000, with 20 offices across the country and the ability to deliver more than 10,000 visits a day. We spoke to co-founder Dr Ben Maruthappu about how Cera has grown since leaving the GovStart programme and what their plans are for 2020!

What is Cera Care and why did you embark on this venture?

We are a tech-enabled home care provider with the ambition of revolutionising the social care sector, supporting older people in living their best lives in their own homes, by receiving great & modern home care. We established Cera as it was clear that multiple parts of social care were outdated, leading to numerous challenges in the industry, from inefficient operations, to low-paid staff, from highly reactive care leading to greater hospital admissions and pressures on the NHS. We firmly believe that technology and innovation can help remedy some of these issues, which is why we set up Cera.

How does your solution help the elderly?

We have digitalised the full care process, from the on-boarding of users, to matching them to carers, back-office logistics, to reporting of care visits and real-time decision making via our online platform and App. This improves the quality of care and makes care more efficient, scalable and transparent. We can reduce overhead costs through our technology and so invest more in our carers, meaning they are better rewarded and valued, while using our digital platform to monitor care standards and ensure our users receive the best care possible. We also use data collected from care visits to predict and prevent health deteriorations in our users, with 83% accuracy, so we can be proactive in looking after their health, while avoiding hospitalisations.

How far do you think you’ve got in solving this problem?

We launched just over 3 years ago and have made significant traction, now delivering 10,000 care visits a day, with 20 offices across the country. We are the largest care-tech company in Europe, and one of the largest care businesses in the UK outright. Rolling out our technology has shown to improve user satisfaction significantly (eNPS scores increase by over 30 points). We also improve carer retention, health outcomes and deliver a safer service, while transforming the experience users, families, staff and carers have through offering a more modern service.

Tell us what’s new since leaving the GovStart programme

GovStart provided an outstanding foundation for us to build our startup. Since the programme we have grown to over 2000 employees, reaching national scale with over 50 public sector partnerships, and were rated ‘Good’ by the healthcare regulator, the CQC. We have raised significant amounts of capital and are fortunate to have a fantastic Advisory Board Chaired by Sir David Behan, and formerly, Sir Nick Clegg.

Looking forward, what are your plans for 2020?

We want to continue our expansion across the UK, acquire traditional care businesses that we can transform with our technology, and double-down on our use of Machine Learning to predict and prevent health deteriorations in our users, so that they can stay healthier for longer in their own homes.

What advice would you give to early GovTech founders?

First, invest in your team; having the right people around you who are committed to your startup’s mission is invaluable and will be what makes your company a success. Second, PUBLIC has a phenomenal network, with an excellent leadership team so I would fully recommend you reach out to them for advice on how to navigate the public sector, to forge long-term and successful public sector partnerships. Third, be resilient – building a startup that collaborates with the public sector takes real persistence and patience; there will definitely be ups and downs – keep going!

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