Staff management

However, social care finally gaining the recognition it has long needed has laid bare a huge information gap. To make our sector truly fit for purpose, we must begin digitising care evidencing and care planning processes, and working to create an integrated system for data-rich digital reporting. More important even than our ability to provide statistics to public bodies and the government, data modelling from consolidated sources provides a picture of what’s happening on the ground, making it possible for the social care sector to respond accordingly. Even more importantly, it will enable our sector to continually improve, to share learnings, to identify health trends, inform treatment and improve links with the NHS.

Digital tools essentially take care of the structuring and documentation of care, swapping clamour for calm. With delivery taking care of itself, managers are free to focus on improvement.

Time for a fresh focus

The potential of data is almost limitless. Not only can it solve problems and create efficiencies many never dreamed of – it is very easy to gather, manage, mine and act upon.

More broadly in healthcare, the coronavirus response is starting to show us how technology and mass scale data mining can make game-changing scientific discoveries. The tracking app developed by King’s College London for

More broadly in healthcare, the coronavirus response is starting to show us how technology and mass scale data mining can make game-changing scientific discoveries

example, has unlocked insights on Covid- 19 symptoms, spread and severity that are vital to containment, treatment, response and scientific learning. In the same way, a care-wide data collation system could inform provision. Integrated sector-wide reporting would create an environment of constant progress with insights highlighting how provision can be improved. Supported by digital tools, simple things like the hydration of elderly residents can be ensured. In the case of one care group, this measure reduced falls by 33 per cent. Scale this up across all areas of resident wellbeing from sleep, nourishment, and medication to exercise and mental stimulation – and outcomes could be significantly improved. Taking this even further, learnings from care homes and groups could prevent problems occurring elsewhere in the sector, such as domiciliary and hospital care of elderly people.

Home by home, data could improve care and reporting processes. Region by region, it could be used to gauge need and streamline provision. Nationally, it could be used to share best practice and

compile data for policy making and benchmarking for care providers to measure themselves against. The most important result for me is the time freed for person centred care. With less time spent on admin or resolving urgent problems, carers will be able to put their personality and passion into care. It is even possible using technology built into our Mobile Care Monitoring platform to pair carers and residents by interest and personality type. This can only enhance job satisfaction for carers and wellbeing for residents.

Creating a way to digitise our sector and join up the insight is the basis from which we can deliver the quality, outcomes-based care people deserve.

Reducing the impact of future crises

Even before coronavirus, the care sector was in crisis. From over 120,000 unfilled job vacancies to underfunding, it has been one challenge after another. When this dreadful pandemic has passed, these challenges will again become major pain points for providers. Acting now to create a more digital sector could relieve considerable pressure and create capacity.

In a sector that employs more workers than the entire NHS with an estimated 1.49m staff, releasing the time saved on paperwork for additional care capacity could be truly transformational. Icon- driven apps used to evidence care such as our Mobile Care Monitoring system have been shown to save each carer up to an hour a day in paperwork. But extra capacity is just the tip of the iceberg. Easy-to-use technology could reduce staff turnover, make a career in care – traditionally viewed as a low-skilled job – more appealing, and open the doors to many more workers.

By freeing carers to do the job they were hired for, smart technology recently increased retention by 40 per cent for care staff and 33 per cent for nursing staff at Hansdale Care Group. Added to this, icon-driven apps can help people who struggle with literacy or have English as a second language, enabling more people to consider a career in care.

July 2020 • 35

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