26 July 21
26 July 21
The Silver Linings competition is an opportunity to rethink how we value our older generations and their care and find sustainable routes to invest via collaborative ideas that deliver for all. In this article we explore how Ben Maruthappu created Cera, after his mum Leena, at the age of 68, had a fall four-and-a-half years ago, which has since evolved into a successful care solution for older generations.
Leena Maruthappu, a doctor focussed on geriatric care, had a terrible fall which left her with a fractured back. When Leena came home from hospital, her hugely independent lifestyle was greatly impacted. All manner of tasks - from very simple things like moving around her home, and her love of gardening to her medical work, and spending time with her grandchildren - became difficult. The everyday things which we take for granted were suddenly no longer straightforward.
Ben, her son, a doctor who worked in an A&E department in London at the time, said:
“Following her accident understandably mum found everyday tasks suddenly very difficult. She had trouble with any work or activities around the house and even just walking itself. Mum is normally so active and independent and so she found this period particularly frustrating.”
Ben and his sister began to look for care for their mother but ended up providing a lot of care themselves because they just couldn’t find the joined up care they felt they could trust.
Reflecting on that difficult time Ben, now aged 33, said: “I could see that so many passionate, motivated and resilient people were working in care. I was speaking to the different agencies and providers but I could see they were so busy and overwhelmed. It wasn’t really clear though when a carer could start, what services they would provide, what time they would be leaving and who would actually be coming into mum’s home. There just wasn’t the connectivity or transparency I was hoping for.”
“When I went to visit some homecare providers, I could see white boards, pens and paper being used to communicate but that doesn’t give the real time picture or make for a joined up system. I could see that if we digitised the organisational side more through technology it would be easier for everyone involved. Whether that was for us, as a family, wanting to organise and access care for mum, or for care workers visiting an older person and being able to leave messages for the family or the next care worker coming in.
“I could see the potential to transform care with technology that truly connects people and that’s what led to the brainwave for my business, using technology from the ground up to create a company that puts optimised care at your fingertips.”
Aged just 28 when he launched Cera in November 2016, Ben was sad to stop practicing in the NHS but recognised the impact and scale of change he could potentially make, something that he would not have been able to do as a practising doctor.
Cera has also digitised the recruitment of carers through to how clients and carers are matched based on languages spoken, time needed and the geography.
Cera’s technology means it can be proactive, not just reactive, with its care. Added Ben: “We collate as much information as we can during our visits about how that older person is doing and we analyse it. It means we can be on the front-foot and see if a person is at high risk of being unwell before they become so. We can get ahead of that, organise more care if needed, recommend tasks to a carer or speak to their GP.”
Through digitisation, Cera is freeing up carers to do what they do best, which is care.
The Silver Linings Competition: your chance to make an impact on the sector
Cera’s story is one of rapid success. The company has raised more than £100 million of investment to date as a mixture of equity and debt, investment that has fuelled expansion, investment in technology and the ability to make an impact for older people, their families and for carers.
Aged 72, Ben’s mum is now fully recovered, and back working in clinics as a geriatrician based in London. She had really missed her gardening, long walks and especially spending time with her grandchildren. Now she is able to do all of these things again and has an appreciation for them now more than ever.
Leena stands proud of what her son’s company has achieved. “She is proud of the fact I took a risk, I saw a challenge in the sector and I tried to tackle it head-on and improve things for people receiving and providing care.
“If Cera had existed at the time mum had her fall, everything would have been so much smoother and less stressful. We would have been able to organise care at the tips of our fingers, with that real-time connectivity that would have given us all peace of mind.”
Ben welcomes the opportunity the Silver Linings competition is creating, adding: “Innovation is a must have - not a nice to have. The more people that can bring a fresh pair of eyes to the sector to think differently about designing services - the better. This will help us to go above and beyond to create a more sustainable model for the future. That’s amazing and I’m behind any initiative and competitions that support and drive just that.”
The Silver Linings Competition
The Silver Linings competition is open to submissions from the general public for ‘Business Plans’ – investable ideas that can be taken forward by interested parties. The competition is encouraging more people to come forward with ideas. The best solutions will win cash prizes: £10,000 on offer for the best business plan and £5,000 for two runner up business plans. The deadline for Business Plans is September 10, 2021. Find out more, and enter the competition at
https://www.silverliningscompetition.com/, join the LinkedIn page for updates, or follow on Twitter at @Ideas4Silvers.