Care Control’s founder, Matt Luckham, discusses the company’s continued growth and plans for the future.
Having last spoken to Matt in September 2020, CHP was interested to learn how the last 12 months have been for the leading complete care management solution provider.
“It’s been a pretty amazing 12 months for the business,” Matt told us.
“We have more than doubled in terms of the size of our team and the number of our customers.”
The Devon based software company now serves more than 500 care providers across the UK and has completed 10 updates of its system over the last year.
“We have kept developing and adding new features,” Matt said. “The really exciting part is we have also taken some time to map out the next 18 to 24 months. That’s the bit that I am super excited about. All our growth has allowed us to invest in looking forward and how we need to continue to develop the system in the coming years.”
Matt told us Care Control’s “phenomenal” growth had been driven in part by the pandemic.
“Providers have been under a huge amount of strain during the pandemic but there have been opportunities,” the Care Control boss said.
“It hasn’t always been the right time for change because providers have been going through so much upheaval but clearly there is some appetite even in this time and landscape for providers to transition and get on and make those positive steps.”
Matt said the pandemic had “shone a light” on “old, inefficient and out-dated working practices” due mainly to infection control measures, etc having to be changed.
He added that CQC was also playing its part in driving the agenda for change.
“The regulators have started to beat a drum regarding the switch from paper to electronic,” Matt noted.
“They have been doing it quietly but there is certainly some mood music towards that.”
Digital adoption has been further driven by care homes during the pandemic due to isolated care home residents and families seeking other ways to stay in touch.
Care Control’s friends and family portal has provided a vital means of communication for care homes.
“We support lots of methods of communication within the friends and family portal,” Matt noted.
“This allows loved ones to share special moments via photos and videos, view a Service Users Care Plan and share messages in real time.”
The platform includes information on personal allowance payments, what the service user is spending their money on and fees payments.
“A lot of our service users rely on their family members to be their Power of Attorney and look after their affairs so it’s really important to be open and transparent, especially during this pandemic when loved ones have been cut off from having that family contact and to be able to ensure that there is some way of allowing communication to continue,” Matt explained.
“We are proud of the fact that we have allowed visibility of the personal payments structure for service users so family members can view additional costs such as hairdressers, buying clothes, shopping and chiropody.
“It’s hugely important that visibility of this is available if someone else is looking after the service user’s financial affairs.”
Matt stressed that Care Control was not trying to replicate Facebook or Face Time but instead provide a “data conduit” between the provider and the family member that enables everybody to be “super informed as to what the current status is regarding the service user in the care home”.
Matt said the commitment of his team to ensuring Care Control was the best system on the market had been a further key driver of growth during the pandemic.
The Care Control founder said it had been an easier process to sell the system during the pandemic while adding there was more onus on the provider now in terms of roll-out as his teams were not able to provide onsite support as they had done previously.
“We have developed our own processes internally to make sure we are able to provide the guidance for the provider in how they to go about making that transition and change,” Matt added.
The business founder said Care Control had seen strong growth across the UK and other overseas markets during the pandemic.
With its strong presence in England, Wales and Scotland, Matt said working with different regulators could be challenging but also noted there were significant areas of crossover and synergies between these.
“Of course, when we take on clients that’s where we are listening to them in terms of what their needs are,” Matt added.
“There’s so much functionality within the product that we are able to cater for all eventualities in terms of what the regulatory requirements are.”
Matt explained that being flexible was one of the key components of Care Control’s business model.
“Configuration is a massive part of Care Control,” he noted.
“We have clients across all sorts of different provider types, including care homes, domiciliary care, supported living and other niche organisations such as children’s homes that are regulated by Ofsted.
“We have to make sure that the system has a huge amount of flexibility within it to be able to enable different configuration settings to be put in place. It’s what my implementation team is there for.
“They are there to hold the hand of the new customer, understand the sector they are working in, the regulatory framework they are working against and make sure the system is configured to their exact requirements.”
Care Control has played a major role in Matt’s care home, Spring House, and has contributed significantly in helping them achieve and maintain their CQC Outstanding rating.
“We have been using the system at Spring House for many years,” Matt observed.
“There are key features that my team have found very useful during the pandemic such as support around temperature checks, hand washing regimes and vaccine information for service users, staff members and visitors.
“Our cleaning schedules ensure that the domestic team are sticking to enhanced cleaning duties that we put in place. Alerts have played a crucial role throughout the pandemic, meaning staff and managers are being informed when tasks aren’t being met.
“They sound trivial but put together they are a huge part of what a care home has to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Not having a system in place to manage all of those aspects would be very difficult.”
Many of Care Control’s updates over the last 12 months have been designed to support providers during the pandemic.
“There have been a lot of changes around PPE usage and basic checks on staff members entering the building and regular temperature checks of service users,” Matt said.
“You try and identify a problem before it becomes a big issue. We had an outbreak of COVID-19 months ago very early on in the pandemic, so I am acutely aware of how serious it is.
“Even though all our service users and staff are double vaccinated there is still an underlying risk that we need to be aware of and that’s why a lot of these changes have been put in place.”
COVID system features include prompts for carers to take residents’ temperatures on a regular basis.
If temperatures are recorded outside a specified range, the system triggers a workflow to deal with the problem and provide guidance for carers on what to do next.
The service also provides prompts for carers to monitor possible COVID systems such as a continuous cough or loss of appetite when recording care information.
As well as providing COVID support through system features, Care Control also offers commercial grade, wipeable hardware to support infection control.
As part of the development process, the team have also been looking at other aspects of the system.
“We try to develop a system which is very broad and covers lots of different areas,” Matt explained.
“It’s not just about care management. It’s also about payroll.”
With COVID-19 having taken an often devastating impact on care home occupancy, Care Control have been looking at providing support with the enquiries process and following those enquiries through to conclusion.
“As part of our future development we are developing a marketing module which is a really important part of a care home’s business model that will facilitate support with marketing a home in terms of filling occupancy and staff vacancies,” Matt noted.
“The system includes a portal to add new enquiries and a feature where staff can carry out pre-assessments, which then feed into our income and fees monitoring areas.
“We have a great deal of work ahead of us over the next 12 months and we are really excited about the enhancements this will bring to the product and how our customers will benefit.
“Our policy since the start of Care Control has been to reinvest all of the growth back into the business and allow us to expand into different areas.”
Care Control has expanded their team significantly over the last 12 months, including new appointments within the Development, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service departments.
Software enhancements have centred on areas including recruitment and personnel, estates planning and management applications, as well as strengthening the finance and income part of the system.
The software supplier is also launching web browser functionality for the application that will work seamlessly with its existing suite of systems that are currently downloaded from the various app stores.
Care Control also plans to add system support for large organisations with complex hierarchies to enable staff and service users to transition around the business simply by the touch of a screen.
“These organisational structures we are creating will feed into our existing payroll, income and care planning components to allow for a truly sensational granular insight for the highest level of any organisation,” Matt explained.
“That’s what we are really committed to. This idea that at the very top of your large care group you can very quickly get to the nub of a problem through one system and one platform. We are very well placed to provide that level of functionality.”
Matt said Care Control was developing new dashboards for its larger customers that allow real time analysis in areas such as compliance, income, payroll, cost of care, dependency analysis, incidents, eMAR and quality assurance.
“It’s so easy to create a new dashboard with Care Control,” he explained.
“A non-technical person can create the dashboards. They allow data to be linked to further insights easily and connect the dots together to enable organisations at any level to be able to quickly understand what the problem might be.
“That’s what we are doing at the moment and that’s our vision for the next 12 months and it’s something we are very excited about. I think it’s going to be a tremendous step for us.”
Matt said Care Control’s single system solution provided real benefits for large organisations who had traditionally cherry-picked systems and then struggled to get them to talk to each other.
“We are committed to providing a single solution for these large organisations to cover all of the aspects of running them,” Matt explained. “It’s a great ambition and I am really excited about trying to deliver it.”
Matt said Care Control’s new platform was designed to underpin the company’s new developments going forward.
One of the cutting-edge areas Matt and his team are looking at is connecting Care Control to other systems through Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
“What we really want to do is to connect Care Control to lots of different areas in the care home environment and a lot of our partners in different areas are also developing these types of solutions and that is super exciting for us,” Matt said.
“We are committed to the vision of having an open system being able to interface with your data on any different platform and you don’t have to use Care Control in order to access your data, be able to change it or modify it and view it. Many partners out there are also on that journey.
“It’s part of the NHSX Digital plan to allow interfacing into GPs surgeries and pharmacies but also to other providers whether it be call bell systems or other financial systems such as Zero and other payroll products. There’s a real direction of travel in this area.”
The Care Control boss offered a washing machine as a simple example of the benefits from connecting devices in the care home to an IoT network.
“Having a care home I know how crucial laundry is in terms of its day-to-day operation in making sure that service users’ clothes are washed properly and put back into their rooms,” Matt said.
“There’s a process that needs to be followed. These new technologies that are being linked to these machines will enable open platforms to get that data as part of the analysis we can provide.”
He offered the further example of wearable tech as an area where IoT connectivity could offer multiple benefits in terms of keeping people informed about how things are changing and whether processes are being followed.
The business founder recommended anyone considering the move to digital to prioritise open platform systems so that they are future proof for when they want to integrate with other systems that are available.
He urged readers to “watch this space” for an enhanced version of Care Control that will be able to interface with different technology partners.
Matt said he was committed to being part of the new NHSX Digital roadmap and had completed its registration for its digital care records system.
“It’s hugely time consuming but it does underline how committed the government is to digitising our sector,” Matt noted.
In another exciting plan for development, Matt highlighted that Care Control was exploring ways of partnering with technology platforms not traditionally associated with the care sector such as Google Home, Alexa and Facebook.
“These are systems that are available to be used that haven’t really been utilised fully within a care management system,” Matt noted.
While recognising potential data sensitivity around partnering with third parties, Matt said there were clear benefits in moving systems such as Care Control to platforms that many of its users were already used to.
The business founder said Care Control was “actively looking” into partnerships with Amazon and Google where Registered Managers and Owners would be able to ask Alexa how a care home was performing, for example.
“We are looking at how a platform such as Alexa could respond with the current status of the home, be that anonymised information or information that does not break any GDPR rules, but would allow the user to get instant updates on how the home is faring,” Matt explained.
With Care Control having achieved exceptional growth over the last 12 months, CHP was interested to learn Matt’s vision for the business going forward.
“We have always wanted to be the number 1 provider in the UK,” Matt told us.
“I think we are already there in terms of functionality. We need to get there now in terms of size. Our commitment to that is unswerving and I would never set any limits on my team in terms of how quickly or how big we can get in terms of targets.”
Matt said he would like to see Care Control double in size in every year which would mean reaching 1,000 care providers in the next 12 to 18 months.
Given the plethora of new digital starts up coming to the market, Matt predicted consolidation over the next 12 to 18 months with some smaller suppliers falling by the wayside.
“Software development is not a cheap business to get into,” Matt noted. “There’s a lot of costs involved. Development is expensive, especially if you are not going to do it yourself and you have got to hire an expensive development resource. So I think some people may fall by the wayside and I think there will be some potential mergers that happen but there is also a lot of outside interest.”
While stressing that Care Control would remain focused on delivering organic growth, Matt did not rule out the possibility of an acquisition if the opportunity arose.
“Because we have done a lot of our development primarily in-house up to now it’s very difficult for us to go and look at acquiring a provider unless there is an area in our business that we have a gap in but never say never,” Matt said.
“We will certainly keep an open mind in terms of any opportunities that come around over the next 12 to 18 months and we will be interested to explore the possibilities.”
In concluding, Matt offered advice to care home providers still considering the switch to digital.
“I understand it’s never the right time to switch to digital but you will regret not making the change,” he said.
“I have done it personally for my care home. We are now rated Outstanding by CQC. There are not many care homes that have managed to achieve that level of accreditation. The Care Control team are experts in helping organisations migrate to this way of working. With over 100 years of hands-on care experience and a wealth of IT knowledge, our team provides our customers with great customer service and support. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t make that change sooner.
“The reasons to switch are endless but don’t take my word for it ask one of the 500 Care Control customers who have made the switch and they will convince you. It’s about seeing technology for what it really is: a tool to help us do something that we want to do. It’s about being able to recognise all the ways that technology can benefit your service users, staff and yourself.”