Altra keeps nursing homes connected

Growing up and working in a family-owned nursing home business inspired Adam Keane to create Altra, a resident experience and family engagement tool that helps care teams, residents and families stay connected.

The platform is live in close to 150 homes across Ireland and the UK and the company, which has bootstrapped itself to profitability, is looking to expand in significantly in the US this year.

“We help care homes improve wellbeing of residents in senior care. Studies show that seniors are physically and mentally healthier when they maintain social connection and foster relationships.

“We are in over 150 homes in Ireland and the UK so not even scratching the surface”

“We help care homes enhance resident experiences and family engagement through our easy to use innovative products.”

The silver economy

Keane said that Altra’s customers are care homes/senior living communities and the market is staggeringly large.

“The ‘Silver Economy’ is one of the fastest growing population cohorts in western economies. In Ireland there are roughly 450 nursing homes with 32,000 residents; in the UK 12,000 care homes with 450,000 residents; in the US 50,000 senior living communities with 4m residents.

“Globally the elder care market (long term residential, home care etc) is worth 3.7 trillion USD and growing. Over 10,000 people in the US turn 65 every day.

“We are in over 150 homes in Ireland and the UK so not even scratching the surface.

How Altra works

Altra is a resident experience app for care homes. It helps care homes provide meaningful, person-centered care for all residents. Altra is made up of two core products:

Altra Family powers family engagement app for care homes. “Share updates with families through our secure engagement app. Convert digital content from families into personalised physical newsletters for residents to enjoy. Manage visits, showcase activities & more.

“Our most favoured feature of Altra Family is the Family Newsletter. You’ll see on our customer stories page that a lot of our testimonials are based around this and the impact it has on residents. It is especially powerful for residents with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s/Dementia as it is a physical memory and creates conversation pieces for staff and families when visiting.”

Altra Wellbeing Hub is an on-demand library of exclusive exercise and wellbeing content, including video-based and downloadable content like puzzles, games etc.

“We are partnering with active ageing experts (physios, dementia care experts, yoga/pilates instructors) to product state-of-the-art content designed to improve lives of residents in care. Everything the wellness/activities teams need all accessible in one place.

“Both of our products are app and web-app based. Ease of use is a key feature of all Altra products. Every task can be performed in 30 seconds or less.”

A caring environment

Keane comes from a background of nursing home operators. “My family owned and operated a nursing home in Dublin for 30 odd years before selling it last year. I grew up working there since I was about 15. I also worked in corporate finance for a few years after college.

“My dad and granddad were both entrepreneurs setting up the nursing home as well as construction businesses and being around that environment my whole life definitely put me on the path I’m on now – entrepreneurship through osmosis!”

Keane believes the start-up ecosystem in Ireland has come on in leaps and bounds in the past two years.

“Take for example the large rounds raised by young start-ups in Ireland in the last two years – all the while being based in Ireland, compared to years ago when the perception was that you had to leave Ireland to raise big.

“At the other end of the scale, Dogpatch winning the NDRC contract has been great – look at the calibre of Irish start-ups coming out of these programmes. I think there has been a serious mind shift with Irish founders in the past two to three years – growing companies with a global mindset starts from day one – you don’t have to wait until you’re ‘big enough’ to do it.”

The company has no plans to raise funding. “We are bootstrapped and plan to stay this way for the next while.”

Done is better than perfect

Crucial lessons in entrepreneurship include managing time and effort. “Thinking the product had to be ‘perfect’ before launch – there is no such thing. Definitely wasted a lot of time at the beginning as a result but a valuable lesson learned for recent product releases.”

His advice to would-be founders is to just get started. “Don’t wait, just do it – whatever the ‘it’ is. Don’t put it on the long finger. And pick up the phone. It will get things done 20x quicker than email.”

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.