Digital Care Futures
2. Technology and Care: Startups and Innovators
Technology is fundamental to our everyday lives and is becoming increasingly ‘smart’ through the use of sensors, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data collection and processing. There has been an explosion of new developments in the care and technology marketplace, with new devices, software and service models, focused on different consumers within the care ecosystem.
Our Sustainable Care programme research found this marketplace is confusing and hard to navigate for commissioners of adult social care, care providers who are increasingly expected to include technology as part of their ‘offer’, and people who need support and their carers. With growing numbers of start-ups in the sector, there were concerns from purchasers – commissioners, care providers and people who use services – about sustainability and whether these ‘new players’ would be able to provide the same level of customer support as they grow their businesses.
At the same time, our research found start-ups experienced challenges in making their way into the marketplace, with some commissioners of services felt to be risk-averse and allied with large, ‘dependable’ and established – but perhaps less innovative – organisations. Some commissioners were happy to pilot new approaches, but more cautious about investing at scale.
In Episode 2 of the Sustainable Care and TSA 'Digital Care Futures' podcast, Kate Hamblin (University of Sheffield) and Eve Solomon (TSA) spoke to guests from three very different start-ups, all using technologies to facilitate and support care, to explore some of the challenges and opportunities they had encountered.
Neil Eastwood, founder and CEO of Care Friends, an employee referral app for social care. “a start-up like this is like a massive freight train in the station with a mini-engine and you’re screaming the mini-engine as much as you can to get some movement and eventually you start to get movement. Once you get momentum, life gets a lot easier because you can’t be stopped. But trying to get going, that’s the thing”
Hector Alexander, co-founder of Yokeru, which provides AI-driven automated voice call systems to care providers, including Local Authorities. “It's much easier if you know from the start this is a long-term game. It doesn’t take a few months- it takes years or more”
Darren Crombie, CEO and founder of Bridgit Care. Bridgit care provides a range of products and support aimed at assisting unpaid carers. “We say to our caring community ‘you’re not alone’ and I think as start-ups we need to remember- ‘you’re not alone- we’re part of a collective of people trying to innovate and make a difference”.
Learn more about Sustainable Care on our website: http://circle.group.shef.ac.uk/