Over 9 million older people[1] could need ‘informal care’ from their friends and family in ten years time. That’s according to a new report by Nesta Impact Investments, which highlights the need for investment in social ventures and new technology if the UK is to avoid a care crisis.

The report, Who Cares?, found that social entrepreneurs are at the forefront of designing new technologies that can improve the informal care market, but they are being held back by a lack of investment.

Nesta’s Joe Ludlow says:

“The time bomb that is our ageing population is increasingly well documented. The implications for demand on care services are profound and public spending can’t keep up.  Social entrepreneurs are developing solutions that can avoid the looming crisis, solutions which can also be highly successful businesses over time.  But to achieve the scale necessary to tackle this problem these entrepreneurs need investment capital. Now is the time for impact investors to engage with this serious social need, which is also a significant economic opportunity.” Joe Ludlow, impact investment director, Nesta.

The scale of the increasing social care crisis was highlighted recently in a report by the IPPR think tank that predicts that by 2017 the number of older people in need of care will outstrip the number of family members able to help.[2] Nesta’s report argues that new technologies can build ‘networks of care’ which improve connections between older people and their carers, increase engagement from the community and help to manage and co-ordinate care tasks.

Nick Dixon, Commissioning Manager at Stockport council says it’s time for a new approach.

“There is no doubt that we are seeing high demand for services at a time when we are having to make tough decisions about funding and budgets. In Stockport we expect a 70% increase in our over 65 population by 2050, while young people and working age populations are set to increase only by around 10%.  We need to find new ways to enable communities to come together to shape and direct the services they use.  Social ventures are well-placed to offer innovative solutions and help us change the way we work with older people and their families.” Nick Dixon, Commissioning Manager, Stockport Council

An estimated three million people are already juggling going to work with providing care, and the report highlights new approaches, such as an app developed by Carers UK designed to make caring less stressful and more co-ordinated. The app, Jointly, connects people caring for a family member or friend and enables multiple carers to share a calendar, task and medication lists and group messaging.

Madeleine Starr from Carers UK says:

“Co-ordinating care with relatives, friends and neighbours from opposite ends of a motorway, often alongside other responsibilities such as paid work and children, can quickly become stressful and challenging. Across age divides we embrace technology in so many ways – banking, shopping, entertainment connecting and socializing – and it makes perfect sense to use it for caring too.” Madeleine Starr, Carers UK Director of Business Development and Innovation

Overall Nesta analysed twenty-five early stage ventures, including HomeTouch, Patients Know Best, Casserole Club and My Support Broker. It found that new technology could increase the supply and efficiency of informal care, and deliver low cost, personalised solutions. However, it highlights the need for social entrepreneurs to work with commissioners and care providers, and provide evidence of impact.


For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Gemma Davidson at Nesta on 07986 396571 or 020 7438 2606 [email protected]

Notes to editors:

Case studies:

Casserole Club is an online organisation that connects people who like to cook with older people who need a hot meal.

Munna is an outgoing lady in her early eighties. Originally from Shimla in the Himalayas, she now lives in North Barnet, where she lives in sheltered accommodation but with little contact with other people.

Munna signed up to Casserole club after the team came to speak to her and others at her home. She saw it as a way to meet new people in the area.

After Munna’s details were put on the Casserole Club website, she was contacted by Oruj, a cook who shares more just a love of food with Munna as she has a daughter with the same name. When they first met Munna says:

“I was a bit nervous but we chatted and shared feelings. She brought her daughter who is also called Munna along. So now I’m known as big Munna and she is known as little Munna.”

After the success of the first meal share another one was organised for the following week. Having the chance to meet more of Oruj’s family means a lot to Munna as it provides the companionship that she feels is missing from her life. She puts it very simply, “this is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”

Oruj has seen the difference her visits have made: “We talk about our week, our families, our friends, our husbands, what we’re reading, the music we’re listening to and as we do all that we sit down to eat together. She wants company. And my daughters and I are able to fulfil that void. That is enormously rewarding.”

Having enjoyed her Casserole Club experience, Munna has started to recommend the project to her friends.

Patients Know Best has developed electronic personal health records. Linked into this, it has also developed ‘Circles
of Care’; a tool that enables patients or carers to invite anyone they wish to join their network, including family, friends and health care professional, such as GPs.

It has integrated into the NHS secure system, meaning it is approved for use by all NHS employees. It offers a safe place for carers to communicate and share personal information.

Dr Mohammad Al–Ubaydli, CEO of Patients Know Best says:

“Putting the patient in control of their data means costs are lower, care is safer, and patients are happier. Symptom–tracking, home testing kits and personalised care planning mean that L&D’s patients can self–assess and self–manage, saving A&E costs while freeing up clinicians’ time to focus on the patients who need the extra help.”

Nesta Impact Investments is a £17.6 million social investment fund, backed by Big Society Capital, Omidyar Network and Nesta. It was launched in October 2012 and helps tackle the major challenges faced by older people, children and communities in the UK by investing in life-changing innovations.

The fund is run by Nesta Investment Management (NIM), which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation. NIM is authorised by the Financial Services Authority to manage and invest funds on behalf of Nesta and external investors.

Big Society Capital is the world's first social investment bank. Big Society Capital formally launched in April 2012, with an estimated £600 million of equity to be paid-in over 5 years, of which £400 million will be from unclaimed assets left dormant in bank accounts for over 15 years and £200 million from the UK’s largest high street banks.

Big Society Capital seeks to support the growth of a social investment market in the UK by revolutionising the way in which the social sector is funded. Through supporting the growth of social investment finance providers, Big Society Capital will improve access to innovative forms of financing, and connect the sector to capital markets.

Omidyar Network Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. Omidyar Network has committed more than $669 million to for-profit companies and non-profit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple initiatives, including entrepreneurship, financial inclusion, property rights, government transparency, consumer Internet and mobile. To learn more, visit www.omidyar.com.

[1] Nesta estimates that by 2024, 9.3 million older people will be in need of some form of informal care, with the biggest growth coming from the ‘older old’ with high care needs.

[2] IPPR, The generation strain: Collective solutions to care in an ageing society, 2014