Meet Curam: Using tech to give carers and patients real choice and control

Caring is a highly vocational career. However, the UK care system consistently fails to support the viability of caring as a long-term career. Carers typically suffer from low pay, long hours and little support and training, which often leads them to move on swiftly. Often exiting the profession completely.

It’s a system that fails patients as well. High-quality care can be difficult to find, especially at short notice. Patients rarely have a choice in their carer. Traditional agency models also often provide patients with different carers each visit, visits which the carers often need to rush because of stretched capacity and clients’ needs are left unmet.

These are the issues that inspired Curam, a digital platform giving carers and clients including patients and their families more choice and control.

Technology for a more personal care experience

Curam connects self-funded and business care users with vetted, experienced, and high-quality carers.

We want to create a better care environment for both the client and the carer. For instance, by allowing immediate access to high-quality, available care you can minimise bed blocks due to delayed patient discharges, both saving hospitals money and improving recovery rates for patients. You also, and this is under-reported, actually prevent further hospital trips as getting a carer to a user’s home negates the need for a hospital visit.

When thinking about care for those with complex needs, it’s also vital to think about dignity and autonomy. Curam enables clients to connect with carers in their area with specific qualifications or language requirements to meet their needs. Using the CuramMeet feature, they can also video call each other before their first meeting to make sure personalities click. This creates a far more personal care experience to ensure clients feel truly seen.

Critically, the platform also helps keep clients safe, especially important when you’re working with vulnerable people. We have a rigorous vetting process, using banking standard biometric technology to check that all our carers have the right to work in the UK, the required qualifications and a standard DBS. We also insist our carers have worked in UK care for at least two years, though our average is over ten.

Valuing carers

Not only does our technology mean clients can experience safety and dignity through their care, but the carer experience also improves.

Before Curam, I was a healthcare consultant for the NHS and its Irish equivalent, the HSE. A big part of my role involved looking at where time could be released back to healthcare professionals so that they can spend more time on what they are passionate about: looking after and caring for people.

Technology can play a huge role in achieving this and improving the problem of inadequate capacity and poor pay that carers typically experience in the traditional agency model. Curam’s platform significantly reduces administrative costs in two ways. By helping to automate time-consuming administrative tasks like carer vetting and drawing up the client-carer contract and by getting the stakeholders to do more such as choosing who to work with and managing the relationship themselves. This is a good thing – it empowers both carers and clients and the costs saved here can instead be shared between the carer and the client.

Curam carers receive 85% of the average care charge hour, compared to less than half of that when working for a conventional care agency. Moreover, they are self-employed, so have more control over their working hours and can take caring jobs to fit around their schedule and location.

But more than this, we want to invest in carers’ careers and improve the problem of experience leaving the care sector. We offer 200 courses through the platform to help carers get the qualifications they need and improve career development prospects. Testament to the stability Curam carers have through better pay and working conditions, around 25% of our carers are career returners who finally have caring back as a viable career option.

Enabling care providers

We are also making our technology available to local authorities, NHS and care homes to improve care provision across the sector. We work with 70 local authorities and provide bespoke self-service portals to government agencies to manage their clients directly, free of charge.

Curam also works with general businesses to help source carers for employees with caring responsibilities, to make it easier to balance these with work. This is particularly pertinent to the Carers’ Leave Act coming into effect on 6th April 2024, which entitles all employees to five days of unpaid care leave per year.  We hope to help raise awareness of the importance for organisations to bridge the gap between statutory support and long-term care through their employee benefits strategy.

We also make it easier for care homes and care agencies to provide last-minute care. Finding short-notice care can be a nightmare and more so when staff-to-patient ratios need to be met. Curam provides an invaluable service here and is extending our ability to link high-quality care with care providers by partnering with some of the UK’s biggest staffing agencies.

Biggest challenge

While our provision of care is growing, we’ve had to scale some hurdles.

Getting the platform right was a big challenge. While we initially outsourced the development, we found the results weren’t what we wanted and we couldn’t achieve what we were looking for in a cost-effective timeframe.

So, we changed tack and brought development in-house. We hired a 25-member tech team based in India and found that this meant we could get a bespoke tech stack built to match what we needed and within the timeframe we set.

This paid off and our tech stack really sets us apart, being entirely purpose-built and unique to anything else in the marketplace.

Into the future

Curam’s ultimate goal is to transform the care system for those who offer and receive it. Looking to the future we’re continuously building towards how we can do this better.

We’re expanding our capacity to help care providers offer the best care available. This means supporting local authorities, NHS, care homes and employers to connect with the best carers in their region and provide high-quality care for both long-term needs and at short notice.

To widen the care we provide, we’ve also acquired a CQC-regulated subsidiary so that we can offer a CQC option for all our care packages.

Ultimately, we want to keep trying to shape a care system that works for everyone, harnessing tech to make that possible and doing so in an ethical, efficient and professional way.


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