Complete care management software solution Care Control was born from MD Matt Luckham’s experience of working in his CQC outstanding care home. As Care Control celebrates its 10th anniversary, Matt explains how the business continues to have the best care software in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
It’s been a remarkable journey since Matt first came up with the idea of Care Control after taking over a family members’ care home ten years ago.
“I had spent many years as Head of IT for a large PLC when the opportunity arose to buy a family member’s care home in Devon,” Matt explained.
“What I thought was going to be a relatively straightforward change of direction actually turned out to be anything but!”
“I soon discovered I didn’t have the necessary skill set required to run a successful care home. It’s a really complicated business and needs lots of management experience but also lots of understanding about the care industry.
“When I bought the home, everything was on paper and I quickly learnt about the CQC and the regulatory requirements and about making sure you kept record keeping to a high standard, so Care Control originated from there.”
Matt said the last 10 years of growing Care Control had been a “hugely exciting” journey.
“I’m no longer the registered manager of my care home but it’s still incredibly important to what we do on a day-to-day basis and we have a lot of other customers now as well,” he added.
“The care home is now rated outstanding and Care Control was a key contributor to that.”
Having forged the technology in a care home, Matt explained how he had ensured that his team at Care Control were similarly steeped in a care background.
“Most of our employees have worked in the care sector,” he observed.
“We are unashamedly proud of the fact that we put that knowledge first and foremost. It’s really important to us to understand our customers really well and what their needs are. Having first-hand experience in care management helps us to achieve this.
“I don’t think there is anyone else on the market who has that unique mixture of technical skills and heritage and pedigree of actually having done the job. We can help our customers to overcome their challenges, we have all been through it ourselves.
“Care Control shines a light on where we are not doing things and alerts us to when people are having falls or are not drinking or eating enough.
“These are things that care home managers need to react to and the quicker we react, the better care can be. It makes the difference between a good and an outstanding care home. Our software and care home very much feed into each other.”
The Care Control founder said responsiveness was key to his ethos of enabling the best possible care.
“The needs of the service users we are looking after are changing all the time,” Matt said.
“It’s really about the speed of response and how quickly can we get that information to the right people so they can take a view as to whether they need to do something about it.”
As well as helping achieve outstanding for his own care home, Matt said Care Control had been instrumental in raising the CQC ratings of its customers.
“We have a number of customers who have had a number of ratings upgrades because they have moved to our digital platform,” Matt noted.
“It’s all about responsiveness. That’s what carers crave. It really comes down to how quickly the care organisation can adapt to the needs of an issue. That’s what the regulator wants to see – care providing not being static and doing the same thing day in, day out.
“They want to see a dynamic approach to care to fit with the needs of a service user. That’s how you can improve your ratings. The people who are using the system well, who understand about the audits and about the ability to analyse what’s going on, are seeing a transformation in terms of everybody being focused on providing the very best care.
“Once you have a stable base it’s about making sure you are providing high quality care on a consistent basis, 24/7. You can only do that with an effective electronic system that is going to shine a light on any issues that come up. It’s not to catch people out but to highlight where there needs to be changes to your approach.”
The all-in-one solution, which includes electronic care plans, eMAR, handover notes, assessments, auditing, rotas and payroll, and HR records, began in residential care but has since expanded into assisted living and domiciliary care.
“It’s a big system now and it’s grown a lot over the years,” Matt explained.
“Predominantly it was developed for care recording and staffing because those are the two main challenges that I came across when I was involved in managing the home, but it’s also got medication management now, which is another massive problem for most care organisations.
“We have also really doubled down on some of our other features such as our friends and family functionality, which allows family members to communicate with loved ones in care homes who aren’t able to visit.
“It’s been unbelievably important for families to have that accessibility to what’s been going on at their loved one’s care home during COVID-19.”
The concept of Care Control is founded on offering an all-in-one care management solution.
“We have stuck to the ethos that our customers get everything when they come to us,” Matt explained.
“We don’t say you need to buy this module or you need to buy that module. With Care Control all features are part of the package. We have customers who want to use as much of the system as they can, and we have other customers who use one or two components of the system or they might migrate to other features over time. We recognise that different customers have different business requirements so we’re relaxed about that. It’s really about making sure the features are easy-to-use and available if people want to use them.”
Matt said the Cloud based system was also able to integrate with other software that providers may have already introduced or may want to add at a later date such as clocking on, call bell or payroll functions.
“We understand that a lot of our customers have already invested in some of these systems and are not going to necessarily move away from them but they may want to use elements of Care Control that are going to help them,” Matt explained.
Having started as one-man band, Matt has seen Care Control expand rapidly over the last 10 years.
“When I look back at where we’ve come from originally it was just me going to care organisations and trying to convince them that is the way they should work,” Matt reflected.
“We now have new offices down in Devon. We have more than 15,000 staff using the system every day. It’s exciting to see how many people are gaining value from the system.
“We’ve got hundreds of customers across the UK and that allows us to tap into that community and their knowledge and to keep developing the system all the time.
“For us it is a constant changing process that we’re going through in terms of evolving the product making sure that it’s fit for purpose, that it meets regulatory requirements and that it marries up to what the expectation is from our customers.
“I think one of our strengths is the ability to listen to what our customers are saying and to then be very fast at adapting the system to that.”
Care Control provides multiple product updates per year.
“We do that in a controlled way and that’s really based on that consultation process with our customers and of course our own observations as well,” Matt noted.
“Because I’ve still got a care home, I still have the same challenges as our customers and I’m very much aligned with all of the current problems.
“A really good example of that was when COVID-19 kicked off in March and April and I could see that we had to take action in my care home. We had to take temperature checks of service users and staff members. We had to do hand washing routines. Very quickly we were able to change the system and roll out those features to enable all of our user base to take advantage of it and that really stems from us being so closely linked to an organisation which is doing this on a day-to-day basis.”
Noting that fear of change and operational disruption remained an obstacle to going digital for some providers, Matt highlighted how relatively straightforward implementation was.
“For a lot of our customers, going from paper to digital comes with a bit of trepidation but we have done this hundreds of times now,” he explained.
“We are very skilled in that area. We have got tried and tested project plans. We understand the paper to digital journey and who we include in that process.
“The people who we have employed are ex care managers. They have worked in the care sector and they understand some of those anxieties.
“You can go from paper to an electronic system within a couple of weeks with Care Control.
“We will hold your hand throughout that process. We don’t charge for staff training. We don’t charge for implementation. It’s all included when you buy into our service.”
Matt said training was now predominantly delivered remotely because of coronavirus and would continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
“Remote training gives a lot of flexibility to our customers,” he added.
“We also have an e-learning package because we recognise that sometimes staff aren’t going to be available to attend sessions. They may have different shift patterns, for example.
“We are very much focused on making the system user friendly for carers because they have to be able to use it quickly and effectively. It’s a very simple system at the carer level. For senior staff and management, the system provides more sophistication and analysis of data and more functionality.”
Matt said 2020 had been a double-edged experience for his two businesses. While his care home has faced enormous challenges, Care Control has enjoyed a record year.
“I’m trying to marry those two things together in my head,” he reflected.
“I think a lot of it comes down to our customers wanting to get more control and wanting to have more visibility of their organisation. The care homes that are still on paper or still using systems that are a little bit old-fashioned in terms of how they operate are recognising that being more in touch with what’s going on a day-to-day basis is really helpful.
“Our customers see that when you’ve got something like a pandemic occurring, where your access to work has been restricted and there’s more working remotely, still being able to be in touch with what’s going on within your care home or organisational environment is crucially important.”
Matt said support from local and national government during the pandemic had helped push care organisations in a digital direction. He cited the Infection Control Fund as one area where providers had been able to access funding to go digital.
Looking ahead, Matt said he was confident that the traumatic experience of COVID-19 would help forge a better future for social care.
“The whole sector now needs to be more professional and that’s what I am really excited about,” he noted. “There is a professionalism that is slowly creeping into the sector.”
Matt said the professionalisation of the carer role was key to ensuring a more sustainable future for social care.
“Higher salary rates and making the carer job a more professional role is essential in terms of helping attracting and retaining staff and making it a job that people want to do,” he noted.
“I am hoping that this will happen over the next five years. The care industry hasn’t been well treated by successive governments. I know this government is now talking about it and I really hope they deliver.
“The carers who worked for me during coronavirus were absolute heroes. They were putting themselves in harm’s way in what I would describe as a war zone. There was so much uncertainty at the time. We have got to recognise that.”
Matt said Care Control was uniquely positioned to capitalise on the healthy long-term outlook for the sector as a result of a combination of favourable factors, including reform, the UK’s ageing demography and social care’s untapped digital demand.
“Our investors see this as a sector with huge growth potential,” he noted.
The Care Control founder predicted further significant expansion for the business after its “staggering” growth this year.
“The next three to five years are going to be hugely exciting for us,” Matt said. “We need to be ahead of changing technology while making sure we bring it back to the core requirement of providing support for the care organisation to enable them to do the best job possible.
“We see a huge amount of opportunity with over 20,000 care organisations throughout the UK,” Matt said.
He highlighted Care Control’s medication module as one area where he was targeting further expansion of services. Matt said he would be looking to partner with a pharmacy systems provider in the coming months.
“It’s an upward trajectory that we are really excited about,” Matt concluded.
“We are always updating features and have just released services based around maintenance management and supervision.
“We want to build on our fantastic foundation and keep creating great software tailored to these really important businesses.
“It’s really about educating care businesses that the only way to reach your full care potential is to move to a smart electronic system, and Care Control is the best system on the market to do this.”