CARE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT Managing Through Winter

Mark Kennion, Director of HAS Technology, discusses why using care planning and management technology is more beneficial than ever this year for care providers.

As with this year as a whole, the winter is set to throw up unprecedented challenges to the social care sector. In its COVID-19 winter plan, the Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) identified these challenges and the need for local authorities and other care providers to adapt - and quickly - to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of their service users.

As well as delivering care services whilst COVID-19 is co- circulating with seasonal flu and other viruses, councils need to remain focussed on their statutory responsibilities of delivering safe, quality care. Local authorities are increasingly using technology and intelligent data to help mitigate risks and proactively target care where it is most needed. This winter, having data for market oversight and optimising care delivery will be vital, but technology can play a key role in preventing people’s care needs escalating in the first place.

The pandemic has presented additional pressures on already strained services. In addition to vulnerable people leading largely sedentary lifestyles for many months, resulting in the need for care professionals to be aware of their changing needs, the capacity to provide this care is also being hit, with illness, shielding and self-isolation, resulting in increases in staff absences.

In response, many local authorities have recognised the benefits of embracing technology. Over the past few weeks, we have hosted a series of webinars to evidence how using innovative solutions can support prevention, enable delivery of quality care and deliver intelligence to mitigate risks.

The feedback we’ve received has reinforced just how important adaptable, intelligent technology solutions are for everyone involved in delivering care, with 100% of participants saying business intelligence could improve the information they have about service performance. In addition, 100% said technology would be vital in helping their service through the challenging winter, while 74% agreed the pandemic has made getting technology in place a higher priority.

The benefits of care management solutions to support care delivery are well known, but during COVID-19 we have seen just how vital our CM solutions have been for our customers to maintain a sense of ‘business as usual’. Having information available digitally, and accessible to multiple team members working in different locations, makes working remotely easier for those responsible for organising care.

Blackburn, with Darwen Council’s inhouse service, was due to implement CM’s scheduling and mobile monitoring solutions when the country went into lockdown. Having made the decision to adopt the technology, they were keen to proceed so implementation, training and project management were

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adapted to suit the new circumstances. This was achieved over a four-week period, allowing the council to rapidly benefit from real-time rotas and service performance data. Crucially, CM care management solution allows councils and providers to have real-time information about what is happening in the community, allowing them to rapidly adapt as circumstances change whilst still delivering quality, person-centred care.

With many care workers already relying on mobile phones in their personal life, the move to receiving schedules and recording information this way has improved communication and made it easier to focus their time on caring.

At the end of 2018, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Department of Communities looked to implement a solution which would modernise its service and delivery.

Prior to implementing our CM scheduling, monitoring and CMBI reporting tool, the department was receiving very little intelligence about how the service was performing. Getting such information about the service was difficult and time-consuming.

The CM Scheduling system has allowed the department to be more responsive to a service user’s needs, using the competency levels and skills - such as languages - to match the right support worker to each visit.

While CM helped the department make efficiencies in service delivery, it also gave them an oversight of the bigger picture; something that was particularly crucial at the height of the pandemic, allowing it to easily assess if it had capacity to take on new packages, monitor sickness levels and see if people were refusing visits.

This information allowed the department to undertake a massive programme of check-in calls to help combat isolation and loneliness – making over 3000 calls during lockdown. Information was recorded and reported on through the CM solution, allowing us to attribute a level of risk against each service user and identify any additional services they might need, like food parcels.

As we head into winter, the department is confident its experience during lockdown will be valuable in dealing with the challenges ahead, empowering it with the information to improve the efficiency and person-centred focus of its service.

Such are the benefits of an integrated care management system, they can be adapted to enable complete management oversight, ensuring all elements of the care journey - from referral through to delivery - are in perfect sync.

In addition, an efficient integrated care management system can help ensure each element of the care process is handled

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