[PDF] Who cares? The role that entrepreneurs and technology can play in improving informal care in the UK

National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts
National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA)
Publication date:
01 May 2014


This report examines the need to increase the supply and improve efficiency of informal care for older people, with a focus on the role that entrepreneurs and technology can play.

Key Findings:

  • Over nine million older people could need ‘informal care’ from their friends and family in ten years’ time.
  • There is a need for more proactive and preventative models of care that improve health and well-being at an early stage.
  • New technologies can be used to 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.
  • 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.

The population of the UK is getting older, and this demographic shift is set to continue over the coming decades with dramatic economic, political and social implications. One of the biggest challenges on the horizon will be to ensure older people can access the support they need to live a good quality of life. The provision of public sector support is already under strain and will not be able to meet this growing demand. More responsibility will fall to ‘informal care’ from individuals, families and the community. 

This paper argues that one thing people need is to build, mobilise and sustain a network of family, friends neighbours, volunteers and services to help them live independently and lead a good quality of life. Technology has a role to play in helping to mobilise support and build networks of connected care.    Our market analysis has identified four areas of opportunity for technology to delivery impact in this space:  

  1. communication tools that increase meaningful connections between family and friends, increasing social interaction and reducing isolation;
  2. platforms or marketplaces that engage potential informal carers from the community;
  3. care management tools that build networks of support and enable effective management and coordination of care; and
  4. tools that improve integration between individuals, informal care providers and formal care providers to improve quality and continuity of care.