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Technology


their own health and social care records so that the citizen is at the centre of integrating their data. In addition, it calls on the government


to work in partnership to develop a Digital Inclusion Plan by 2022, ensuring nobody is excluded from digital social care because of low confidence around technology, a lack of access to equipment or a stable internet connection. This is a big consideration for care homes, with many still without the basics such as reliable internet or wi-fi beyond the manager’s office. Major gaps in the digital skills of care


professionals are outlined in the report, with a request that government includes digital literacy and data sharing training in its future social care workforce strategy. The report also asks government to encourage health and social care organisations to share data more, re- balancing the perceived risks around data protection.


Joined-up care Data sharing is a central issue for care homes and something that ADASS, the Local Government Association and NHSX are making progress on through their Joining Up Care programme. This initiative is working hard to connect social care providers with the infrastructure and technology required to meet their immediate priorities with the end goal of linking care more effectively between the NHS and social care. As part of this work, Joining Up Care


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have distributed 11,000 iPads and data- enabled SIM cards to care homes with the greatest need. That is backed up by support to help staff use the iPads effectively so they can access care services with residents and also use digital tools to improve the care they provide and reduce the administrative burden. The project is also trialling the use of


existing digital solutions - such as the Summary Care Record app and proxy access to GP records - to give authorised care workers fast and secure access to up to date health records so staff can make more informed decisions. An inspiring example of care home


staff using data to make better decisions about residents’ care can be seen in Sunderland. In March last year, as the UK locked down for the first time, health and care partnership, All Together Better Sunderland and NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) scaled up a training scheme for care home staff. In just three weeks, workers from every Sunderland care home had been trained to monitor the respiratory rate, oxygen level, blood pressure and temperature of residents. The project aimed to empower carers so they could spot early signs of a resident being unwell. By training staff to use National Early Warning Score (NEWS) technology, they could give clinical data to nurses and doctors as well as reporting the softer signs like appetite loss or a decline in mobility. The project made a big difference in how quickly residents were triaged,


strengthening communication between care workers and clinicians. The older person nurses within the community team said that having these clinical observations meant they could better prioritise the most unwell residents and act faster. Care home managers believe the


technology has helped to keep residents and staff safe because it enables care to be more responsive. They also said it was reducing hospital admissions because staff can do a more holistic assessment – closely monitoring residents and doing as much as possible in the care home. Indeed, in a previous pilot that involved


use of the NEWS technology in just eight care homes for 12 months, there were 192 fewer hospital admissions and 336 fewer A&E attendances. These figures indicate the excellent work going on in Sunderland’s care homes around technology, but up and down the country other care providers are at different stages of their digital journey. TSA, Care England and Think Local Act


Personal (TLAP) recently created a report called TEC Stories Care Homes that shows how care homes are using digital solutions to give residents greater ownership and engagement around their care, helping them to enjoy a better quality of life.2 are five factors to consider.


Take an outcomes-led approach to enabling technology Focus on what matters to the individuals you support. The technology options available are ever expanding and can


www.thecarehomeenvironment.com • June 2021


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