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Mandatory vaccines: Could remote care technology save jobs in the home care sector?

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As mandatory vaccine rules come into force across the regulated social care sector, home care providers will look to invest in light-touch remote care solutions, freeing up resources and allowing some unvaccinated staff to carry out important health and welfare checks virtually, says Rob Parkes, CEO of Service Robotics.

The UK government is passing regulations mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for care workers. A policy that will make the profound shortage of care workers worse.

The deadline for residential care workers to be double vaccinated is today (November 11) under the government’s “no jab, no job” policy for the sector. And earlier this week, the Health and Social Care Secretary confirmed that the rules would extend to domiciliary care and NHS workers from April 1, 2022.

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Joyce Pinfield from the National Care Association believes that “this is a very blunt instrument that will exacerbate the staffing crisis”.

A risk assessment on the impact estimated that the sector could lose between 40,000 and 70,000 carers, at a time when there are already 105,000 unfilled vacancies in England alone.

But health and social care providers are discovering a new way to deliver light touch, remote, home care solutions that can bridge the gap between resource and demand, improving operational and financial performance whilst delivering high-quality care. 

We call it remote care, and the demand is rising.

Delivering some care remotely

Most stakeholders agree that technology must play a role in how we handle the care crisis.

Finding proven methods of delivering some care remotely is game-changing for the care industry. By doing this, we are enabling carers to do what they tell us they want; to deliver more care and better care.

Our service, GenieConnect, is purposefully designed to allow the delivery of care remotely. One care worker operating remotely can perform up to nine welfare checks for every in-person visit.

Care is more than a transactional interation that requires human empathy and judgement. However, we can use technology to help and compliment the amazing work our care team delivers every day.” – Mike Folkes, managing director, Caremark (Cheltenham & Tewkesbury)

The future of 15-minute visits is virtual

Contrary to the Care Act 2014, it is estimated that 15% of English local authorities and roughly 30% in Wales and Scotland perform 15-minute in-person care visits, according to data obtained through Freedom of Information requests by charity Leonard Cheshire.

Care providers are resistant to this practice because it makes no sense economically from a care provider or care worker perspective.  

National guidelines indicate that 30 minutes should be the minimum contact time for visits in person. Approximately 50% of care workers do not get paid for their travel time, so these visits reduce their income-earning potential and lead to burnout. Care providers want to deliver the best care possible, and these visits are unsatisfactory for all concerned.

Often, the care worker assigned for these visits may vary due to availability or logistics, and the visits tend to be rushed and impersonal.

We decided to introduce the GenieConnect service in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which left many of our customers feeling more isolated than normal due to not receiving visits from friends or family. In addition, we see the possible economic benefits and environmental paybacks.” – Mike Folkes, manging director, Caremark (Cheltenham & Tewkesbury)

Our next evolution

The Remote Care Centre Operator (RCCO) will be staffed by professional care workers who cannot or choose not to be vaccinated.

For every three full-time remote care workers, we predict that 135 welfare checks, health checks, and medication compliance virtual visits can be performed daily. 

Service Robotics is the founder of GenieConnect, a service that provides free video calling, welfare video monitoring with alerts, and remote medical support. 

Tags : GenieConnectmandatory vaccinationService Roboticsvaccinations
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke