Care Quality through Connection

The number of COVID-19 deaths in care homes could have been significantly reduced through the successful implementation of technology, says Professor Stuart Solomons, Founder of Ernie Connects.

Following data published last month by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), it was revealed that COVID-19 deaths in care homes could be higher than government figures show.

A total of 29,017 deaths were originally recorded in care homes in England from 10th April 2020 to 31st March 2021. However, this figure is likely to be higher as deaths that occurred during that period – almost three weeks aſter the UK went into the first national lockdown – were not being listed as COVID- related.

The numbers released by CQC show that more than 39,000 care home residents died with the virus, with the highest number of deaths in a single care home at 44, while 21 homes had more than 30 COVID-related deaths.

This figure is 4,190 higher than the same period the year before – hinting that the number of people that died with coronavirus in care homes over the year to the end of March is at least 43,000.

Families who have been campaigning to get the data released say it is vital to have transparency about what happened. The CQC says it has not found a link between standards of care in a home and the number of deaths.

The regulator adds that many factors are involved, including the levels of COVID-19 in the local community and the age and health of the residents.

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However, such an increased mortality rate could have been prevented if fully integrated technology, with transparent digital care plans accessible to family and friends, medical surrogates and other clinicians, were utilised by care providers across the country.

Ernie Connects contacted 28 government departments, including Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, at the beginning of the epidemic offering them the Ernie soſtware for free as it was clinically proven to save lives.

Studies from the USA show that when a video communications system is provided for residents, their families and friends, 24 hours a day, it drives quality care through connection and subsequently increases occupancy rates from the low-mid 80s to the high-mid 90s.

This is where digital care technology could have been utilised as an invaluable tool to ease the growing pressures in care facilities. Integrated platforms should have the continuous ability to remotely measure all of a resident’s vital signs, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and temperature. Currently, there are limited care home systems available that allow residents to have video consultations with doctors and nurses.

Technology approved by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and trusted by the NHS, should be integrated into every care home in the UK to relieve pressure and improve

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