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Interview: It's time to embrace health technology & live well at home

Thursday 13 April 2017

Ben Cera 2On Wednesday 19th April we will welcome delegates to our event -Innovative Approaches to Dementia Care and Support.

Dr. Mahiben Maruthappu will be guest speaker, discussing the impact of technology and how it can transform dementia homecare.

DAA's Communication Officer Louise Thomas interviewed him to find out more.


What is Cera?

Cera is a CQC registered technology enabled homecare provider, aiming to support those requiring care to live where they are most comfortable and happy.

It is an online platform where people choose from a range of professional carers for themselves or their loved ones, who offer continued support for as long as it is required. Cera offers daytime, overnight, and live-in care to ensure that we provide exactly what our clients need and when they need it.

We aim to become increasingly personalised. At present clients can book according to the type of care they need, such as dementia support. Over time we will match people and carers through additional features, such as complimentary personalities.

Why did you start Cera?

The founding Cera team is a group of individuals spanning careers in healthcare and technology. We have all seen first-hand the effects that poor care can have on people, and I was exposed to this when I was a practicing doctor in A&E.

People were being admitted because their needs were not being addressed at home, and so escalated to the point that they required the services of A&E. From there they became inpatients, and a lack of adequate homecare support meant that this is where they often remained. They experienced the ‘ping-pong’ effect moving around the healthcare system in order to have their needs catered for.

It was apparent to me a reliance on traditional methods of care causes people to lose their independence, and puts enormous strain the resources available across health and social care. My mother and grandmother required homecare services, and their experiences alerted me to the need for innovation in the sector.

Recently I served as an advisor to Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, where I advised him on technology and healthcare. It was clear to me that technology has already been beneficial in so many other sectors, for example ordering a taxi, delivering groceries, and buying an airline ticket. There has been a lot of great progress within healthcare, but the sector is slower to respond to the benefits that technology can bring.

Today, more and more healthcare providers are using technology. I am committed that Cera has a role in transforming support and homecare.

Can you share any stories about Cera?

Louisa accesses Cera to find a care provider to administer medication for her mother. She told us that she finds the service useful because of the transparency it brings through having an open, accessible online care plan (her mother has agreed to make this accessible - nothing is released without her permission). She said;

“Mum is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, so she still recognises us, but she needs help taking medication, leaving the house and preparing meals. The quality of Cera’s care is excellent and I can make all the arrangements from my phone.”

Older Woman Technology Generic

It sounds like Cera is useful for personal support – what about it’s relationship to the integrated care agenda?

Cera partners with NHS trusts across the country. We collect data and monitor how individuals are provided for in the community, and we tailor services accordingly. The aim is to reduce hospital readmission by enabling a person to live well in the community through consistent and continued high quality care.

In the current health and social care climate, Cera has an important role to play. Our ambition is to support better joined up services that are affordable and focuses on person-centred care.

Tell me more about how Cera supports the healthcare sector

We know there are significant financial pressures on the healthcare sector, coupled with challenges of delayed discharge within hospital. It is vital that we rethink service delivery that encourages people to take control of their own health and care, preventing unnecessary hospital admissions from occurring in the first place.

Cera carers are able to provide fast, timely, high quality support at home. Through investing in our team of support, we retain more of our workforce than traditional providers - up to 50% more in some cases. This means greater transparency in skill level, whilst enabling the family to be more involved and engaged in the care process.

In modern day health and social care, personal networks are just as important as professional ones.

Have you had any difficulties getting Cera off the ground?

When a healthcare product comes onto the market that is new and innovative, people are curious about it but naturally want to find out more before investing. This has been a challenge, but one that we have overcome by providing evidence about the impact that Cera can have in transforming care. 

At Cera we are keen to be open with the broader healthcare system. We want to share our learning and experiences with other care providers across the country.

DAA members connect, share best practice and take action on dementia. What would you say to those who are developing their own ideas? 

I think the DAA is fantastic and an important component of modern day dementia support. I really believe in the significance of getting organisations and people to come together, to progress best practice and share together.

This includes new innovations and technologies. If we are to manage an ageing population and appropriately address their needs, we need to do this together.

It’s true that ‘two heads are better than one’, and this is how we need to base our future approach to health and social care. It’s better for everyone when we collaborate.