Anne-Marie Perry is the founder of a new app-based platform, CareMatch, which aims to provide social care across the country by uniting those in need with care givers within their local community. Anne-Marie has worked in the sector for over 30 years also founding of one of Southern England’s leading home care providers, Abicare. She has had a lifelong passion for care, providing innovative solutions to an industry with historical underfunding which, over the past two years, has taken the full brunt of the pandemic. Anne-Marie has been on the forefront of these challenges, providing inspirational leadership, all the while creating a successful business in a sector facing immense difficulties.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I started life as a teacher and worked in a care home whilst at university to earn money to subsidise my student days. I then left teaching to set up a family run nursing home. I was the home manager and found I had a real empathy with the elderly and loved that I essentially had inherited 80 extra grandparents. I have extremely fond memories of those days and loved every working day. The home was eventually sold and as I had started to look at a domiciliary care business, I decided to start my own home care business.
The journey has been variable with unimaginable ups and downs. The overriding result that came from this was that home care was not generally “done well”. Carers and managers were stressed, the industry depressed and narrative poor. I felt strongly that we could do better. We needed to change the culture of care. We needed to pay more, improve quality and not increase charges. My thoughts turned to an online solution which enabled all these things. CareMatch is the result of 5 years proving the concept, building the platform and App and we are launching into the marketplace to engage with carers and Care Receivers to change and improve care services across the UK.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
My managed service was struggling for carers and after exhausting all avenues we still had one call left to cover for one of our offices. One half hour call – all I could think was how can that be so difficult? We borrowed carers from other teams and finally found a solution after hours of calls shuffling and reshuffling the rotas. This was a Saturday afternoon when the whole team had worked all day to cover the calls on their day off. The following Monday, I was told by one of my team,” you know there were a couple of carers- who don’t work for us who were off on Saturday, they would probably have helped”.
This got me thinking about finding a solution where I could pitch to anyone who did care in the vicinity that might be able to help solve what should be a fairly simple problem. This developed into providing a solution where Care Receivers could go online, build a small team of carers around themselves- A care Hub- which is supported by a wider care community. The carers would have the responsibility and ability to liaise with their clients often knowing their needs best and therefore what is acceptable or not. This introduces a flexibility into our service that has no repercussions as everyone involved is informed and risk is limited. I then ran some pilots to prove the concept that carers could run their rotas themselves and organise their clients’ care schedules. Following that, we embarked on finding a Chief Technical Officer to drive the tech development – platform and App to support the service, which is where we are today.
How did you achieve awareness?
We have very much kept awareness low key for the moment as we are keen to ensure the platform performs as we expect and the UX for Care Receivers and Carer Givers is simple, and useful. We are also aware that to drive awareness countrywide, would not be sensible as a Care Receiver needs to find a carer when they search. This means it makes sense for us to strategically build our communities nationwide, before embarking fully on the awareness building phase.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We have secured angel investment for the first year and will be looking to attract further funding going forward. As the elderly population is set to double in the next 18 years and this is a tech enabled solution, initial feedback for potential funding has been extremely positive.
What are the key successes?
We have a platform and Apps for Care Receivers and carers to upload their requirements or capabilities for matching. The platform is currently the only one in the marketplace that supports the full customer and carer journey ensuring Care Receivers can find their carers, develop a tailored care plan and schedule and monitor delivery ongoing. Carers, on the other hand, have control of their rotas, are safe in the knowledge all delivery is fully auditable and they can be paid at the point of delivery- when they “clock out of a call,” their accounts get credited.
Carers enjoy the autonomy they have with CareMatch, yet they still have the support that all carers need with a Coach and Area Mentor available to support each community.
Carers can be paid much better rates, yet Care Receivers have not experienced a significant (if any at all) increase in rates.
We have combined care and tech to support the industry and improve working conditions as well as improve service delivery for care receivers.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Trust – for both carers and receivers. At CareMatch we are introducing a new, modern approach to care which Care Givers and receivers are unfamiliar with. All carers are verified and we believe that matching carers and people in need of care based on locality, individual preferences and expertise is the future of quality care. We also have few issues with Care Receivers and we receive many enquiries for care. Carers, however, do not necessarily believe our rates and instinctively think about what the catch might be.
Another challenge is changing the culture of care. I believe we need to change the culture of care, improve the narrative, and improve society’s perception of care in the UK. This we know will be an uphill struggle as there is nothing being done at a Government level that is planned to influence the perception of care.
Onboarding and recruiting carers is also a difficulty. Carers were part of the valued workforce through Covid-19 and the challenges in the industry have had a huge impact on the NHS. We need to value our care workforce and promote the benefits of working in care.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We want to build on what we have started. . We have enormous ambitions for our business and the care sector as a whole, and our ultimate plan is to improve the quality of care in the UK.
We are currently working on developing our CareMatch app and onboarding new teams of carers and new Care Receivers. We have been in care for over 30 years so have a very clear understanding of the challenges for both Care Receivers and carers and we want to ensure we get this right. We have so many exciting developments we believe we can transform the industry.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I find it very exciting and it’s what makes me excited to start every day. The entrepreneurial role lends itself to variety, challenges and the thinking of solutions. I am an individual who could not comprehend a life without the buzz of my own business and the delight each new development brings. There is freedom with owning your own business, but you are also always thinking about what’s next- I like that.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Sufficient funding, a good committed team around you and a sense of humour.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
I have many individuals who inspire me. I am always impressed with young entrepreneurs who have understood a need, started from very humble beginnings and made a success such as Ben Francis (Gym shark) and Steven Bartlett (Social Chain).
More traditionally, I admire individuals who have continued to strive in the face of adversity until they have made a success of their business idea including Joy Mangano or Annie Malone (Madame CJ Walker).
Finally, I always draw inspiration from great sports professionals- particularly those who have achieved their success with hard work after tough times. I draw inspiration from the grit and determination to succeed and not give up, for example surfer, Bethany Hamilton and whilst the horse Sea Biscuit achieved great things after a major injury, I admire the team around him who persevered to bring him back to racing and succeeding – does a horse count?
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”– Abraham Lincoln
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the nonsuccessful ones is pure perseverance.” Steve Jobs
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
- Instagram: @carematch_carers
- LinkedIn: @CareMatch LTD
- Personal LinkedIn: @Anne-Marie Perry (https://www.linkedin.com/in/anne-marie-perry-a2a93419/)
- Facebook: @CareMatchLtd
- Twitter: @CareMatchLtd