Zuri - an innovation for better home care
18/09/2015 | Matthew Robins
Webreality has been working with startup Zuri since mid-2014 to develop new software for home care management.
Zuri founder, Cheryl Kenealy, identified the market need for the product in the course of managing her own home care business in Jersey.
Home care is a regulated industry with very high risks attached to it for the service provider. Conventionally, care plan management and record-keeping is paper based.
In one of our earliest planning meetings with Cheryl, she completely covered our boardroom table with examples of the myriad paper care plan templates that she used in her business. It was a very tangible demonstration of the real world problem, and the software challenge ahead.
In business terms, for Cheryl all of that paper meant slow processes, data inconsistencies, risk of data loss and data protection breaches, huge archive storage implications, and an almost impossible task in extracting management information from her business.
Her ideal future world invoved her nurses carrying tablet computers to every patient visit, being able to access the patient's records on screen via wifi or mobile data, record care plan interventions (including photos) into a central database in real time, and call for online advice and support as required. Back at base, her administration team would be able to have a live centralised view of all care activity, and extract management information on demand.
She'd been looking for a software solution focused on home care plan management, but had found nothing that met her needs. She reasoned that if she was experiencing such deep information management problems, then so would most other home care businesses of the same type.
And the market is large. The 2015 annual report by the UK Homecare Association provides the following statistics for the UK home care market in financial year 2013-14:
- People receiving domiciliary care (ie care at home): 883,000
- Total spending on domiciliary care (public and private): £5.2 billion
- People employed in the domiciliary care sector: 578,000
- Total number of registered care providers: 9,826
So Zuri was developed as a tablet-focused web application, initially to service Cheryl's own home care business, and then to be made available to other service-providers in Zuri's home island of Jersey and throughout the UK.
Zuri has been developed entirely in-house at Webreality, by a team under the leadership of Head of Development Tom Witherington.
We first documented the functional specification, based on Cheryl's brief.
The next stage was designing the architecture of the application, developing the high level user interface concepts, and documenting the software development plan.
As Cheryl - like most professionals - had never been involved in developing business software before, an agile project management approach was particularly important with Zuri, because we all acknowledged at the earliest stage that unpredictable new requirements were likely to emerge as the development stage progressed. And so it proved!
Throughout the development phase, a rigorous programme of unit testing has been pursued to ensure minimum errors in use.
For much of 2015, the new product has been in "alpha" and then "beta" testing inside Cheryl's own business, using a set of tablets and a data plan supplied to her by JT. Zuri's business plan for Jersey has taken account of the island-wide introduction of 4G mobile data service in 2015.
In parallel, we've been developing the branding and the promotional website for Zuri.
In early August 2015, the decision was taken to move to live status in Cheryl's own business on Tuesday 8 September 2015, and that milestone was achieved.
Zuri is now available for demonstration to potential customers.
More information and contact details can be found at www.zurihomecare.com.
Zuri and Webreality are members of www.medtech.je, a new consortium of Jersey businesses and medical professionals specialising in digital health.