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The elderly care system in the UK has been in the spotlight over 2017. Whether it’s health ministers suggesting kids should step in to look after ageing mums and dads or concerns over NHS ‘bed blocking’, it’s clear that elderly care is in need of some TLC. Against this backdrop, UK start-up Cera is disrupting the care industry with a combination of AI and human support.

The vast majority of seniors want to stay in their own homes, but with The LGA estimating there will be a £2.6 billion gap by 2020 between the amount of money social care services need and their budgets, and with the average care facility costing £30,000 a year, it's in everyone’s interest for them to get this support.

Cera – which has raised £1.3 million in investment – is working to help. “As someone who has sought care for a family member, I believe that the best home for seniors is their own. Our aim is to create a digital doorway to the over-65s, and curate services with partners to help them live more independently,” says co-founder Ben Maruthappu. “In addition to rolling out partnerships with councils and hospitals, we’re actively looking at other avenues including retail, food delivery and wearables, and how we might be able integrate them with our healthcare technology.”

Cera enables families to take more control over the help given to elderly relatives
Breezy (2016) ©

Cera enables families to take more control over the help given, and find the right carer to meet their needs on-demand. “Technology has changed so many aspects of our lives – how we order food, books, hail a cab or even dating – yet when it comes to the really important aspect of our lives, we often don’t get the help we need,” says Maruthappu. The start-up aims to match patients and carers to provide help within four hours and it offers everything from palliative to dementia care, letting users tailor their own plan for themselves or a loved one. It's also trialling AI, with alerts raised when patients show early signs of illness or failure to eat properly, and links to gadgets that can help to monitor pensioners.

But care isn’t just about medical treatments. At a time when 49% of older people say their TV or pet is their main form of company, loneliness is becoming a silent killer, so companionship is a vital part of the service. Technology might be the most efficient solution and gadgets like Carehub can certainly help, but old people don’t want to be treated like a problem that needs solving. Successful social initiatives like ‘slow aisles’ in supermarkets and the Older Women’s Co-Housing group show that need for more empathetic and practical solutions.


Jo Allison is Canvas8’s editor. Previously, she worked for retail trends consultancy GDR, where shopping was part of the job description. When she’s not getting her head around the quirks of human behaviour, she’s busy ‘researching’ the latest food or fitness fad.


17 Feb 17
3 min read

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