Staff management

Data:thelightbulbmoment arrives for social care

Co-founder and director of Person Centred Software Jonathan Papworth explains how data generated by digital tools can inform care provision, drive service improvement and help operators achieve more than ever in a post-Covid world

I have an ambitious vision for care. One that sees care homes thrive rather than survive. One that makes the job more enjoyable for carers. One that improves outcomes and wellbeing. And I believe it is achievable.

The problem that has been hiding in plain sight for years is now clear for all to see in the coronavirus outbreak. Paper processes are woefully inadequate for a sector as vital to society and as overstretched as ours.

For all of the incredible achievements in a climate of crushing staff shortages, underfunding and Covid-19, many providers are starting to see a calmer, more informed way forward. This could be the lightbulb moment our sector has desperately needed.

Currently, roughly 70 per cent of care providers record resident interactions on paper. This is a bigger problem than it sounds. Not only do paper notes take a long time to write up at the end of the shift, there are numerous knock-on problems. Filing, legibility, inconsistency,

and language ability are just a few. Add a crisis to this mix, and you find there is simply not enough time to locate notes, thoroughly review them, decipher someone else’s handwriting or to double- check potentially vital details. Social care should be solely focussed on people – those being cared for, their loved ones, and carers themselves. And ironically, it is technology that provides the platform for truly human, person- centric care.

Evidencing care digitally enables providers to make efficiencies that mean they can immediately improve provision. Not only do tools such as our Mobile Care Monitoring app save carers up to an hour a day that can be spent with residents and invested straight back into frontline care – they also give them the tools and information they need to do their job. They provide reliable reminders, highlight concerns, and enable staff to monitor personal wellbeing indicators. By providing immediate insight, they make care all about the resident, and

delivery all about the carer.

Technology is now demonstrating to even the most traditional operators, that it is not something to fear – it is an enabler.

Already, the response to coronavirus has seen operators working quickly to overcome challenges surrounding self- isolation and social distancing. Many care homes are now using digital tools such as video conferencing and other software that enables remote connections and transparency.

Care home owners yet to switch to digital are also hearing how time efficiencies created by technology are offsetting the impact of chronic staffing shortages. Digital systems that harness data and typically unlock more time to care are now helping operators to deliver the same quality of care with fewer staff. Connected tools are also helping carers in self-isolation to stay involved, and providing continuity of care by ensuring new, agency and volunteer workers are familiar with the needs of residents.

It may have taken a catastrophe like coronavirus to show us what can be achieved when we urgently pull together – but there is so much more that we can achieve by turning to data.

Connecting data means connecting care

Despite being a sector of more than 18,500 providers, research has suggested that just 30 per cent use digital solutions. So the vast majority are still operating their business on paper. With that in mind, it is not too difficult to see why it has been impossible to build a real-time picture of what has been happening in care homes throughout this tragic outbreak.

Covid-19 has shown government and society as a whole that social care is just as important to everyone as the NHS.

34 • July 2020

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