As the world continues to evolve and embrace technology, there is no going back. Although care homes were initially slow to adopt new technology, they are now catching up apace. There is growing understanding of the way that technology can improve the operating efficiency of a care home, while providing greater focus on care centred around the individual.
The use of digital technology has significantly impacted the quality of care in care homes. Digital care records have reduced the likelihood of errors; staff are able to access the records of residents more speedily, making it easier to provide individualised care based on the person’s history, dietary requirements, and other essential needs. Digital Care Records can even allow providers to be proactive rather than reactive in a person’s care.
KareInn’s digital social care record (DSCR) system is a good example of the benefits of digitisation. Their fully mobile App underpins care home operations: using KareInn allows a provider to achieve the highest standards of care and compliance through its clinical workflows, inbuilt reminders, trended data analysis and integrations. KareInn’s commitment to research has benefited the whole sector; through its NHS Pathfinders research it provided the evidence base for the use of digital care planning and acoustic monitoring to reduce falls by up to 70%, paving the way for the Digitising Social Care Fund which allocates statutory funding for DSCRs and sensor based technologies. KareInn’s digital care planning and its powerful integrations enable it to be the backbone of a care home operation.
Digital technology has also improved communication between care homes and other healthcare professionals. Through digital communication channels, care homes can share information about residents, enabling a more coordinated approach to care. Initiatives such as GP Connect have resulted in all round enhancements of the service people receive.
There is also a focus on resident wellbeing. People who live in care homes need the opportunity to participate in meaningful activities and interactions so that they can boost their physical and emotional health. One company helping to do this is Oomph! Wellness. Oomph! Wellness helps care providers boost staff and residents' mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing whilst helping older adults live their best lives. Through a wellbeing and activities training platform, Oomph! On Demand, Oomph offers a wide range of resources and support to both residents and staff, such as activity ideas, exercise inspiration and training tools.
The use of digital technology has also made it easier for care homes to manage their operations. Fiona Hale, Managing Director of CoolCare, a provider of care home administration software comments; “Our service is aimed at making operating care homes more efficient and more profitable. Our latest customer analysis revealed care homes achieving between 29-62% higher weekly fees than the national average. Digitising and simplifying administration processes can help care home teams save both time and money across a range of tasks. Figures from care homes using the facility to automate shift cover requests to all staff showed an average 11-hour reduction in the time taken to process shift requests, showing the power for digitalisation to help look after residents, staff and the business.”
However, the implementation of digital transformation in care homes is not without challenges. For instance, there is the risk of data breaches, which can compromise the privacy of residents. Care homes have always needed to protect the information they use and share. But the increased use of digital systems means that more data is available to more people, more readily than ever before. As a result, care services really need to keep their data protection arrangements up to date. From training staff on basic cyber security, to ensuring they have data back-ups, there are many simple steps that care homes can take. And there is free, expert support available from the Better Security, Better Care programme which helps providers to check and improve their arrangements using the Data Security and Protection Toolkit.
The benefits of the digital revolution in care are undoubted, yet there is still work to be done in various areas; ensuring that the financial investment in digital solutions gives care homes the financial benefit they need to ensure their sustainability is just one.
This article has barely scratched the surface of the potential for digital transformation in care, as there are so many more areas it can help enhance performance. I can only conclude by saying, continue to watch this space: there is so much more to come.
Daniel Casson MD of Casson Consulting, Digital Development advisor Care England and LaingBuisson Conference Director https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielcassondigitaltransformationsocialcare/
Fiona Hale Managing Director, Cool Care https://www.coolcare4.co.uk
Rachel Stojevic Business Development Manager, KareInn https://www.kareinn.com
Iris Steen Communications Lead, Better Security, Better Care, Digital Social Care https://www.digitalsocialcare.co.uk
Matt Hamblin, Business Director, Oomph! Wellness https://www.oomph-wellness.org