This category, sponsored by My Learning Cloud, honours innovations by individuals or teams which helped ensure that service users continued to receive outstanding care during the pandemic.
From implementing new services and systems to support remote monitoring and safe hospital discharge, to redesigning an entire house to accommodate a live-in carer, this category recognises creative thinking.
It also highlights care professionals who have come up with innovative ways to support their colleagues through the crisis, from launching a wellbeing programme for the workforce to introducing care badges to wear on public transport.
The finalists are:
Ashridge Home Care
Buckinghamshire-based Ashridge Home Care was set up in 2017 by managing director Trudi Scrivener. She wanted to create a company that truly cares, not only about its clients, but also its staff. As soon as lockdown was announced, Ashridge put in place its crisis plan and the company was able to continue to deliver 24-hour care to the entire client base.
During lockdown, Trudi secured help from TV nutritionist Janet Brinkwork and together they launched the Ashridgelicious Food Lovers group for live-in carers to learn easy and nutritious meals to cook for their clients.
Technology came to the fore during lockdown, enabling the head office team to ensure carers were well informed at a time when messages were confusing. They also created a live interactive COVID Database detailing every client and their vulnerability and every carer.
Ashridge also has an e-Care system in place and, during lockdown, clients’ health was monitored in real-time and uploaded by carers onto their tablets. The head office team all worked remotely, but were on hand 24/7 to answer questions via the e-Care system and were in touch with each other via open zoom calls.
Trudi regularly recorded motivational videos for the team and introduced a new client newsletter to keep families informed of Ashridge’s efforts during the pandemic.
Ashridge also went to extraordinary lengths to help a couple during lockdown. The wife was the main carer for her husband who was living with dementia, but she had suffered a broken arm. Ashridge helped to redesign the couple’s house to enable them to accommodate a live-in carer, who helped the wife rehabilitate her arm whilst also looking after the husband. The carer lived with them for two months before leaving them in the hands of a visiting carer.
Home Instead Senior Care
In the first week of March, Home Instead’s national office set up a COVID Taskforce to shape the company’s direction and steer the business through the pandemic.
The Taskforce sought to provide reassurance, guidance and support to local office teams, taking pressure off them during unprecedented and stressful circumstances. It met every morning to monitor progress of COVID and ensure that the ever-changing government guidance was understood and disseminated.
As PPE became a major issue, the Taskforce also arranged for centralised procurement for the network to take the stress away from them.
Like many home care companies in the early days of the pandemic, Home Instead saw clients putting their care on hold; either due to fear of visitors coming into their homes or because family were able to step in to provide informal care.
Understanding the importance of continuity of care in maintaining overall health and wellbeing, the Taskforce looked to ways it could put client’s minds at rest whilst adapting their service offering to cater for the needs of clients and families in need of support.
Home Instead also created a suite of bespoke services for older people affected by COVID: ‘Home Recovery’ to help transition home from hospital; ‘Home Independence’, with a focus on prevention; and ‘Home Support’, for a person who perhaps struggles with activity around the home.
The Taskforce also oversaw the enhancement of the company’s employee wellbeing programme. This allowed 24/7 access to qualified counsellors during the pandemic, practical advice and guidance on issues such as handling finances and home schooling.
London-based Lifted Care has shown innovation and perseverance throughout the pandemic. An existing feature of the care that Lifted provides, that has really shone throughout lockdown, is its unique app.
The interactive app allows carers and loved ones of those in care to stay in constant contact with one another. This became paramount at a time when people felt isolated and cut off from their friends and relatives.
During lockdown, Lifted also created Facebook group, Caring for Loved Ones – by Lifted. The group was designed to be a digital space for anyone who is caring for someone close to them. Lifted publishes daily content, generates discussions amongst the members and hosts virtual events to ensure members feel supported.
The home care provider also introduced badges for carers to wear on public transport. They read: ‘I’m a carer. Please give me space’. This allowed carers to travel with ease, without worrying about possibly catching the virus or passing it onto their clients.
Another initiative was Lifted’s commitment to pay carers a decent wage. Already paying more than 20% above the market average to our carers, Lifted took this further and decided to not only double sick pay, but to also increase travel time pay.
Lifted has also introduced the Carer Champion role to support carers out in the field. The role, currently filled by the Compliance and Quality Assurance Officer, is designed to motivate carers and offer them guidance.
During the pandemic, Mumby’s Homecare, based in Oxfordshire, launched two innovative ways of working to address new home care needs and provide a safer way of working: the prepaid Carercard and Feebris AI tool for early diagnosis of vulnerable patients.
The Carercard is a prepaid card to allow carers to shop for clients with ease, and manage household expenses without exchanging cash between carers, families and retail outlets. The Carercard gives both the carer and the family the ability to view the card’s balance and spend online.
During the pandemic there has been a shift to card payment in store and an increase in online shopping. Both of these are addressed using the Carercard making shopping simple, transparent and safer.
The Feebris AI platform connects a range of point-of-care devices, such as digital stethoscopes, heart monitors and wearables, and collates this clinical data by way of an easy-to-use app. It provides a 360 view of the client’s condition with actionable diagnostic outputs so the carer can provide the right tailored care to their client.
This means that carers can identify health risks and any deterioration in their clients. It can assist the carer to triage the client’s day-to-day health needs and employ the capabilities of remote clinicians. During the ongoing crisis, the Feebris platform is minimising exposure to potential infection outside the home for clients whilst providing a proactive approach to their health and care management.
The Good Care Group
Over the past 12 months, and in particular during the COVID-19 crisis, The Good Care Group’s (TGCG) online platform, Good Care Together (GCT), has proved invaluable. The system has provided reassurance to clients and their relatives, and has most recently assisted with ensuring that rates of COVID transmission have remained <1% amongst both the client and carer population.
The platform is accessed by live-in carers on Google Chromebooks. They can record daily care notes, monitor food and fluid intake, provide weekly overview reports, notify head office of any incidents, and record the safe administration of medication with an electronic medication administration record. The system also has a social forum where carers working remotely and disparately can connect with one another.
During the pandemic, GCT has been essential in ensuring that clients continue to receive quality care. Significantly, the ability to remotely monitor activity has avoided the need for care managers to conduct visits, thus minimising footfall within clients’ homes and enabling them to continue isolating safely.
The system has a range of safety features, which support monitoring the delivery of outstanding care. For example, head office are notified in real-time if a client’s medication has not been given or if there’s a discrepancy between the prescription label and the dosage instructions.
The incident reporting function also allows care managers to remotely investigate any client health concerns. For example, if a client falls the manager can quickly come to understand whether they had enough to drink that day and can review results of a urinalysis test.
This is further enhanced by handheld medical devices which capture and interpret abnormalities in vital signs using AI algorithms. The system flags to both carer and care manager whether the client is acutely unwell so swift action can be taken.
To view the full list of Care Heroes Awards finalists, click here.