Tech-enabled care agency Elder, one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK, has announced plans to grow its network of elderly carers by 30% in 2020 and increase staff to support them.

The firm, which provides live-in care, matches self-employed carers to families in need. Its logistical and matching tech means it can find a carer anywhere in the UK within 48 hours.

The firm claims to add the equivalent capacity of a care home to the market every 12 days. It achieves this through its matching algorithm, ElderMATCH, its planning hub Care OS, and its customer-facing app My Elder.

“Given the ongoing situation with COVID-19, we’re looking to increase the number of staff able to support those on the frontline – those in positions to really support carers so they can focus on doing their job,” Pete Dowds, CEO of Elder, told BusinessCloud.

“Obviously, given the recent COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen a lot of families come to us to help look after their elderly loved ones. Responding to such unprecedented demand while switching to remote working has been a big challenge, but one the entire team has stepped up to meet.”

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Across its headquarters and regional offices the firm has 85 employees, and works with around 3,000 self-employed carers. An additional 30% would take its carer workforce to 3,900.

“With the number of over-85s in the UK set to nearly double to 3 million by 2043, there’s a huge looming capacity black hole, as the indebted and fragmented residential care sector fails to meet rising demand,” said Dowds.

He said that 420 providers have failed since 2010, and 1 in 4 are currently financially unsustainable, pointing to figures from 2017 which suggest care home insolvencies increased by 83%.

“This a uniquely challenging time for the social care sector, as we mobilise everything we have to support those in need.

“We’re seeing unprecedented demand. Fortunately, our model provides a solution that keeps the vulnerable in the safety of their familiar surroundings, reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection.

“We’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for the exceptional dedication they’ve shown throughout this unprecedented period.

“We’ve asked many to stay with their client for much longer than usual, shielding them from the risk. This act of sacrifice could save lives.”

In January the firm announced it had secured £8.2m funding, bringing its total raised to £16.5m.