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TOP 10 ways home care providers are innovating during the COVID-19 crisis

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While home care providers continue to face a number of challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, from low supplies of PPE and limited guidance, to staff absences and cancelled care visits, many are still striving to innovate in order to support their staff and provide the best care for their clients.

Here we list some of the creative ways businesses in the sector are overcoming these hurdles and the inevitable stress they cause care workers, managers, service users and their families.

Right at Home launches tech-enabled service to ensure client safety

Three Right at Home offices have introduced a new technology-enabled service designed to give families peace of mind in between their loved ones’ care calls and act a stepping-stone for those considering home care.

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Right at Home Lite is being offered in partnership with Alteracall, a provider of digitally-enhanced daily contact that confirms health and safety, detects changing needs and improves client care.

Through the service, clients in South Cheshire, South Liverpool and Guildford will be given a specially-designed tablet with an ‘OKEachDay button’, which they press once a day, or more often if required.

This sends a signal to Alertacall which confirms the client’s contact and that they are able to receive information and prompts. Clients who choose not to engage digitally will receive a call from a trained adviser from the Alertacall team and the trained adviser will talk and exchange information with the Client.

Right at Home South Cheshire owner Ben Selby said the service will be particularly valuable during the COVID-19 crisis – when many vulnerable people are shielding and living alone – as it can provide family members with peace of mind that their loved ones are safe.

Carefound manager produces film in recognition of care staff

Yorkshire and Cheshire-based Carefound Home Care has produced a short film to shine a spotlight on how its care staff are supporting elderly people within local communities.

In the video, Sarah Vickers (pictured below), recruitment and community manager at the provider’s Wilmslow branch, sings a song she wrote in dedication to her colleagues, against a backdrop of pictures of care workers and their clients.

In one part of the song, she sings: “I see your light in the dark, the smile on your face, though we all know it’s hard…There’s no way to ever pay you back, bless your heart know we love you for that. Honest and selfless, I don’t know if this helps it, but you do a good job, don’t get too down, the world needs you now, know that you matter.”

Click here to view the video

Bluebird Care launches ‘COVID-19 Toolkit’ for franchise partners

In mid-March Bluebird Care had the foresight to roll out a COVID-19 Toolkit across its network in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Included within the toolkit, which is updated daily, are links to relevant sources of information, in addition to specific business continuity advice; advice for customers; and advice for staff members.

Neil Murray, head of compliance and quality at Bluebird Care, said: “We’re adding to the Toolkit by the day to ensure it stays as a go-to resource and source of the most up to date information for our businesses.

“With so many sources of information – and some of it differing in approach – we’re keen to signpost our businesses to the most up to date and accurate information.”

COVID-19 alert system helps PPE go further at Midlands home care service

A home care provider based in the Midlands has implemented an early warning alert system for care staff that notifies them of any risks to safety when providing care, including those resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The innovation team at Fosse Healthcare created the feature using technology available as part of its remote care planning system, Access Care Planning, which it uses for electronic care planning and monitoring care delivery.

Each care worker is given a smartphone loaded with the Access Care Planning mobile app to record, track and report on all aspects of their care delivery.

The warning system alerts care staff ahead of each visit as to whether anyone in the household they are about to enter is symptomatic, confirmed COVID-19 positive or shielding.

By using the alert created by Fosse, care workers are able to prepare for visits with the appropriate PPE to protect both themselves and the client, as well as to report on any issues or changes at the end of each visit – for example, if a client has developed symptoms, or received a shielding letter from the NHS or their GP since a previous visit.

Home care provider invests in 3D printers to produce its own PPE

A home care provider based in Swindon has invested in 3D printers to engineer its own personal protective equipment (PPE).

With mounting concerns over the supply and availability of PPE, directors at First City Nursing and Care decided to take matters into their own hands in order to protect its 300 members of staff and 600 elderly and vulnerable clients.

The first prototype face shield came off the production line in April, thanks to the assistance of Ben Edmonds, a local inventor and product designer who runs an ‘Inventor Club’, teaching kids innovation and problem solving.

Managing Director of First City Nursing and Care, Stephen Trowbridge, said: “My teams are on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 but every day it was getting harder to source the PPE that they need in order to do their jobs safely.

“NHS distribution lines were only able to send us 300 masks a week and our other suppliers were finding it difficult to source goods too.  Over the last few weeks we’ve seen prices rocket up, with alcohol gel rising by 12 times and a similar increase for face masks.  We felt as though we were being forced to the black market to obtain this critical equipment as new suppliers appeared on the market, but we were dubious over the quality and safety of the products.

“We needed a cost-effective solution and that’s when we turned to technology. This is the result of people with a passion for finding answers coming together in their own time to support the community.”

Fast-track online social care recruitment platform announced

London-based tech-enabled home care provider Cera has developed and licensed a new online platform to fast-track social care recruitment.

Join Social Care, launched by the Department of Health and Social Care, is designed to make it easier for care providers to reach out to people in local areas looking to work in the sector.

The platform allows candidates to record a video interview and access free training supported by Skills for Care before starting employment.

Registered providers are then able to search for candidates in their local area, view their video interviews before starting DBS checks and training processes and making conditional offers, ensuring recruitment is more streamlined during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

A team of support workers is helping people in remote locations stay well at home

A project that supports people in remote locations to manage their long-term conditions at home has adapted its working practices to support the mental and physical health of service users during COVID-19 crisis.

The mPower project aims to help people with conditions such as diabetes, COPD, dementia and Parkinsons, by creating personalised wellbeing plans, in a bid to improve their day to day lives.

Before the pandemic, the team would visit their service users in person to tell them about the different technologies available and connect them with activities in their area.

But over the past two months, it has had to adapt its ways of working in order to continue helping the elderly and vulnerable throughout the current crisis. 

Anne Clark, who has been working as a community navigator in the Ayrshire and Arran region of Scotland for the last two years, said: “In the past, we would help people who felt socially isolated by introducing them to different social activities and events going on in their local area to help them feel more connected.  However, this isn’t an option at the moment, so we’re looking at how to use technology to combat loneliness. 

“For some people, that can mean teaching them how to keep in touch with their family over email or video calls, but it’s important to remember not everyone has access to this kind of technology.  Sometimes, we just need to keep in touch with people over the phone and check in regularly to make sure they’re OK.”

Care workers innovate to support people with learning disabilities during pandemic

Maximising outdoor space and expanding creative horizons are just some of the ways that frontline staff at learning disability services across the UK have been supporting vulnerable adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support workers at the services, run by national charity Hft, are going the extra mile to ensure they are able to keep people safe and provide reassurance during this unsettling time.

They include 27 year-old Abby Howard who has been working at the charity’s Bristol service for the last four years. One of the ways she and her colleagues have been supporting people through the pandemic has been by helping them to maximise the potential of the communal spaces in their home.

This has included setting up flowerbeds and vegetable patches in the garden. Adrian (pictured below), who is usually particularly active in his community, has taken a leading role in maintaining the outdoor space, enabling him to develop his organisational skills and boosting his confidence by giving him additional responsibilities.

In addition to maximising the outdoor space, the staff team has also planned activities centred around people’s interests, to tackle low moods caused by being unable to take part in their usual activities.

This included staging a concert screening for two Westlife superfans. After spotting the newly released concert DVD, Registered Cluster Manager James Baker arranged a projector, concert seating, and even homemade tickets in honour of the special showing for the whole household.

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Bluebird Care emergency JET service lands at two UK hospitals

Bluebird Care has reinstated its JET (Joint Emergency Team) Service to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak by easing congestion and maximising bed capacity at two UK hospitals.

The rapid response service ran at Winchester’s Royal Hampshire County Hospital and Andover’s War Memorial Hospital during the winter months and it’s now being re-launched to provide support to the NHS during the pandemic.

The service works by providing rapid response, emergency care to patients with acute medical conditions, such as falls, flu-like illness or UTIs, who can be treated in their own home, rather than in hospital.

Bluebird Care said it will work hand in hand with local hospitals, 18 GPs and community nurses across the Mid Hampshire region.

The patients utilising the service are likely to be elderly or vulnerable who would usually be admitted to hospital if they became ill.

The JET Service will instead see Bluebird Care step in to deliver the same care in the community, freeing up beds and NHS staff for an influx of patients with coronavirus symptoms.

Home care worker gets royal Zoom visit from Prince William

A caregiver from Home Instead Senior Care has spoken to Prince William about her experience in caring for older people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Suraya Alvi (pictured centre), from Home Instead Stockport, was one of five care workers who were invited to join the Zoom call with Prince William last week.

The duke wanted to find out directly from those on the frontline of care what their experience of working during COVID-19 was like, how it had changed the way they delivered care and how the job affected their wellbeing.

Speaking directly to HRH about her experience of caring for older people throughout COVID-19, Alvi said: “The main thing we face is uncertainty from clients. We aim to reassure them that we will still provide the best level of care regardless of the pandemic.

“The main aspect is keeping people safe in their homes at this time and providing that level of care that we did before but just with the added PPE and handwashing.”

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Sarah Clarke

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