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FEATURE: Care providers reveal the technologies that supported them through COVID-19

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Leading home care companies reveal the technologies that have helped them to be more efficient and provide a safe and responsive service during the pandemic.

It’s been heavily reported by HCI and other care titles that the need for remote working and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in providers reviewing their processes and realising the benefits of going digital.

Home care businesses realised that they needed to make their businesses more efficient, giving carers more time to care, while also providing a safer and responsive service for clients, and technology was the answer to this.

Knowing this, we asked providers to reveal the technologies they have been using during the pandemic and how these solutions have benefited both their staff and their clients.

Alcedo Care Group

Technologies used:
PASS from everyLIFE Technologies, HiHi, Newcare and ZOOM

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Benefits during COVID:
Managing director Andy Boardman said: “PASS technology has enabled us to provide a safer and responsive service for our clients. We use the PASS system to engage the clients and carers with their care planning and to record the tasks undertaken on each visit. The PASS system is a digital care management platform that provides a single view of care records and automates the process of assessments. It also allows us and client’s families to view real-time documents without the need to visit, which has been safer during the pandemic.

“Using the PASS system’s care management platform to update the care plan ensures that our care workers are notified of medication and task changes in real time. This, in turn, will reduce the risk of medication errors in administration tasks. The PASS system always allows remote access to monitor care notes and we are alerted about any missed tasks or
hydration concerns.

“We have also been using ZOOM to carry out remote assessments and supervisions with staff as well as team meetings across the branches. In terms of cost control, this has meant we can still communicate safely as a team without the travel costs. HiHi allows us to video call others inside the business to conduct meetings without the need for travel, enabling us to work safely from home without affecting the performance and responsiveness of our business.”

Ashridge Home Care

Technologies used:
Electronic care monitoring

Benefits during COVID:
Operations manager Sarah Harrison said: “Electronic care monitoring, rather than traditional paper-based systems, has allowed our staff to save valuable time whist giving them access to the information they need in real time. As the pandemic endured, the available guidance was shifting daily and the software gave our staff the confidence to adjust their practice based on the most recent and up-to-date guidance, being implemented direct to the platform and subsequently hardware in their hands, from our
care management.

“Monitoring aspects of our client’s care is undertaken for many purposes. While there is a significant priority to understand present and enduring health needs, having a live, up-to-date picture at our fingertips is invaluable. The technology allows us to better identify outcomes by receiving a real-time thread of progress, along with any concerns. The systems in place at Ashridge Home Care allow family members to oversee the same records that we can. During the pandemic, as family members were unable to visit their loved ones, this has been invaluable.

“We have been able to continue working in partnership with relatives, loved ones, friends, medical professionals, local authorities and other organisations through the use of software. Ashridge Home Care predominantly cares for those with an enduring diagnosis i.e. dementia. We have seen pivotal moments, captured by the carer, make their way through the system to our dashboard and into analysis far quicker than a traditional paper-based system would.”

Caremark

Technologies used:
Microsoft Teams, care planning software, video conferencing

Benefits during COVID:
IT manager Mak Abdelnur said: “Microsoft Teams allowed us to remain in contact with franchise owners and temporarily replace office visits, which resulted in time and cost savings, as well as a boost to productivity. Office staff have been able to collaborate together using this technology, and continue to hold franchise recruitment and franchise training.

“Care Planning Software has enabled us to reduce the time required to complete paperwork, increase client safety and instantly update a client’s care requirements. We also purchased tablets for our extra care schemes and they’ve enabled families to remain in contact with their loved ones via video calls.”

Helping Hands

Technologies used:
Access Software

Benefits during COVID:
Chief executive Andy Hogarth said: “We’ve spent the last nine months introducing the full suite of Access products into our business, allowing us to integrate every aspect of the care we provide for our customers. Having previously run about a dozen different systems, none of which would talk to each other, this gives us the benefits of single-point of data entry, which then populates everything else.

“As an example, when we recruit a new carer they apply online, entering their personal details. From this point onwards we never have to re-key any data, so the recruitment process is significantly speeded up. DBS checks are automated and the learning management system ensures they have attended all the correct courses. Care scheduling is also automated, as is payroll, and we are alerted if a carer is more than 15 minutes late for a call. This enables us to check they are safe, rearrange cover for a call if needed, and make sure that customers’ meds are correctly administered – the list just goes on and on.

“For clients, the benefits are also significant – we now have a portal, which allows the customer and their family to read the daily log, particularly useful during lockdown. It also means that a family member can phone or Zoom their loved one and have the opening of a conversation available to them; it’s much easier to say to someone with memory loss “I see you had Shepherds Pie for lunch, did you enjoy it?” rather than “what did you have for lunch today?”

Home Instead

Technologies used:
Home Aware from Anthropos. This involves putting subtle, non-intrusive sensors around the home of a client, which establishes and learns patterns of activity. If these patterns change it gives insights, which provide valuable information on the client and may often show changes in everyday routine. This can be used to improve their care plan if their behaviour change is a cause for concern.

Benefits during COVID:
Chief executive Martin Jones said: “Home Aware has improved our ability to consider a client’s situation and assess whether their care plan should be adapted. It fast tracks the process and allows us to further personalise the care we provide.

“For one client of Home Instead, it became clear that she was sleeping more than usual throughout the day and getting recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs). Living with Alzheimer’s and dementia too, the client finds it difficult to communicate her thoughts.

“Introducing Home Aware established movement late in the evening and throughout the night, showing that the client didn’t get to bed until late and hardly slept at all. It also found that the kettle wasn’t being used when she was alone, indicating that she was drinking very little. The reasons for the tiredness and UTIs became clearer. Thanks to those insights, Home Instead could adapt its care accordingly.”

HRM Homecare Services

Technologies used:
Prior to COVID-19, we were innovatively looking at ways to digitalise our support services and business processes. We began to roll out several digital rostering and care planning app solutions, business development platforms and introduced quality and compliance-focused software. We also began to develop several partnerships with assistive technology providers. We combined digital rostering and care planning apps with assistive technology, such as motion sensors and heat sensors, as these can transform the way we provide care.

Benefits during COVID:
Managing director Lynn Laughland said: “One of the digital business systems that has helped us is Sage People. This has helped us improve our business as it allows more effective on boarding of new care staff to our organisation. It has reduced the length of time that we take to put staff through our recruitment pipeline, and improved retention of our care workforce. This has led to efficiencies for the business, saving time and money as the system effectively ‘digitalises’ all our HR processes, as well as a significant part of our training delivery as it includes an online training platform. We also have instant and complete visibility of our workforce to enable us to make better business decisions with smart analytics and actionable insights.

“A key impact of digital rostering and care planning apps is that this has improved our collection of outcome data, and means we can now evidence improved outcomes of people’s care. Combining this with assistive technology has made a significant difference to service users. For example, one of our younger service users moved to a new home recently after she had two major strokes.

“After discussions with the service user and her family, we fitted several assistive technologies in her home. We fitted heat sensors in the kitchen to issue an alert if she accidentally hit one of the knobs on her new hob, or when an item next to the cooker started to smoke. This service user has a fear of dying in her bed. So we fitted a breathing and heart detector under her mattress. This gives her some comfort that family will come to her aid if she needs them.”

Tags : Innovationtechnology
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke