For brothers Adam and Daniel Pike, business is about personal passion as well as profit.
Two years ago, they launched SuperCarers, an online solution to placing carers for the elderly in the home. “Our grandma needed care. The quality wasn’t good enough and it was too expensive. So our mum ended up being the primary carer, then our grandma moved into a residential care home, which, for someone with early-stage dementia, wasn’t necessarily the best thing. We also experienced our grandfather passing away in hospital. He was there for three weeks; he should’ve had the chance to leave, but we couldn’t find the care,” says Adam.
There are currently 1.9m elderly people in the UK who have a care need; under half of them have support. That figure will rise to 4m by 2025 and, in the meantime, we’ll see a carer deficit of 600,000. Most councils will only fund care in cases of substantial or critical need, “which means most people are basically screwed. If you’re lucky enough to get support and have a financial assessment, if you have over £23,250 of assets, you’ll pay for your own care. That means there’s a large number of people in this country who are not wealthy and whose assets and savings are decimated by the cost of care. And we don’t talk about it,” Adam says.
As a former management consultant at Deloitte, he was seconded to the Treasury as a policy adviser on ageing. Meanwhile, Daniel is a former PwC accountant. “The question driving what we do is ‘how do you give people quality of life as they get older?’,” says the latter. The SuperCarers app enables relatives to use a two-step matching process to find a carer. Go on TrustPilot, and you won’t find a bad review. The pair will source someone at 6pm to help immediately, they’ve designed the app so family members can see when a carer has arrived, with a new feature being built that’ll give further updates while the carer is working.
The Pikes vet, verify and interview all the carers on their books, and a review based system helps people pick the right carer. You can even watch each carer on personal introductory videos. “It’s about proof of use. Has someone in my area been happy with this person and used them again and again?” says Daniel. “We’ve had people finding out via the app that there’s a carer 200 metres down the road from them – they just didn’t know,” adds Adam.
On the carer side, the brothers are proud that they can pay £12.80 an hour – a far cry from the £3.27 that’ll see Sevacare, a care service provider formerly used by Haringey Council, taken to an employment tribunal. “Another fundamental question for us is ‘how can you make pay transformative for carers?’ They’re currently getting a raw deal. We pay carers less than our cleaners. What does that say about our society? Each of us should ask ourselves whether we’re really caring enough,” says Adam.
When I meet the pair, they’ve just been with their investors. Backed by Innocent drinks via its JamJar fund, it also counts former Marie Curie chief executive Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett as a backer, with the Care Quality Commission’s Alan Rosenbach as its chair. But building the business hasn’t been easy. “Running a business is challenging enough – it’s your professional life and your personal life. A care business is even more challenging because you’re dealing with people who are vulnerable,” says Adam. “You have to be in it for the long haul, and have very broad shoulders.” Before going for investment in September of last year, the brothers used money for deposits on first homes to bootstrap their business.
Currently, SuperCarers only operates in London, but the ambition is “to be the Number One provider of home care in the UK,” says Daniel. “That’s children with disabilities, respite work, other professions to help elderly patients like physios and nurses. Most importantly, our vision is to put SuperCarers at the heart of the health ecosystem: if you’re an NHS trust and you have an issue with delayed transfers of care. If you’re a local authority and you have a major issue with provision. If you’re a private insurer and you’re wanting to minimise the re-admission to hospital after an operation, you can go into our site, build a care team around that patient or client and ensure they’re serviced by an outstanding team of professionals.”
Even now, the idea isn’t just to add B2B capabilities, but to build an enterprise solution, too. “We’re starting to have conversations with companies that’d like to offer schemes to employees. Employers lose a lot of days to caring. People say they’re ill and they’re actually with their parent. We can help with that.”
Sunday 2 October is National Grandparents Day. This week, SuperCarers has teamed up with several businesses including Uber, to give grandparents their first Uber experience, florist Bloom&Wild to send flowers, and on-demand beauty app Blow Ltd to order a hair stylist to a grandparents’ home. Adam explains: “we’d like people to enjoy and capture #MomentsThatMatter on Sunday. We can castigate the NHS and point the finger at someone else all we like, but can we all individually say that we’re doing enough?”