Our founder and CEO, Nuno Almeida, is featured on Care Home Professional’s cover for July 2023.
Nuno shares his thoughts on the social care sector, the growth and future of Nourish and how we align closely with the ambitions of our customers.
“We think we have the best product in the market. What makes the difference is our understanding of how a good digital product – with the right integrations, data science, sector knowledge, when all brought together – can translate into better outcomes for people needing care. We can do this from a single care home to hundreds of locations with a variety of types of care.”
Want to know more about how Nourish can work for you? Book a personalised demo with our team and see how Nourish can truly adapt to your care service.
We’re all taught that oral health is essential to keep our teeth healthy but what does this really mean? Poor oral health can lead to malnutrition, pneumonia and a weakened immune system which can make it harder to recover from common illnesses. Studies are being conducted to see whether dental hygiene has any links to dementia. So how can we encourage better dental hygiene?
Getting people you support to the dentist is no easy feat. Dental practices aren’t always accessible, medical settings can be quite distressing and getting there requires accessible transport and extra staff. Instead of taking the people you support to the dentist, why not bring the dentist to you? Domiciliary dental services provide dental care right at home.
Some local NHS trusts offer training on dental health for a few members of staff, appointing these staff members as Oral Health Champions. These Champions undertake the training and the responsibility of training existing and new staff. Ensuring your service is working to the NICE guidelines and the Oral Health policy could also become part of the Champions’ role.
Activities are a simple and fun way to encourage conversations about good oral health. Brushing your teeth may not seem fun but, depending on the people you supports abilities, it can be! If you have any keen knitters, download knitting patterns for knitting teeth, tooth fairies or tooth fairy pouches for grandchildren, young relatives and friends’ children. Arty people could have a go at crafting teeth and toothbrushes out of leftover cardboard and painting them. If you have any connections to a local school or nursery, invite them over (Covid-19 permitting) for a lesson on mouthcare. You could even have a sensory afternoon of science experiments, making elephant toothpaste, growing plaque with yeast and sugar and, egg brushing.
The Nourish platform allows dental hygiene to be logged, tracked and managed and provides an Oral Health Assessment Tool (OHAT) for new admissions. In Nourish, you are able to plan, manage and evidence dental appointments and visits and use the OHAT for regular reviews on the oral health of those you support. The Alerts and Warnings function can ensure appointments and reviews are not missed. Because dental health can have a significant impact on the general health of the people you support, the ability to monitor means early intervention is possible.
As the Coronavirus pandemic swept the globe and hit the UK earlier in March this year, care homes were put under more strain than they ever have before. Working to ease the pressure on the NHS, many care organisations have and continue to act as an overspill for hospitals when they get too busy. This has meant taking on patients who potentially were still infectious with coronavirus, as demand for beds soared across the UK. We take a look at Coronavirus in care homes, and how care has been managed in cases of Covid-19.
Care teams have felt they’ve been let down by the government, being told they shouldn’t need to work any differently, even once Covid-19 had hit the UK. There has been an overall shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment), but care teams were being told by suppliers that the NHS took priority.
Care homes usually implement what is known as “barrier nursing” when someone contracts a virus. This is where the person is isolated and new gloves, mask, paper towels etc will be used for each and every patient. However, with the realisation that Covid-19 could often be asymptomatic, and without antibody tests readily available, this posed a problem for managing Coronavirus in care homes. Combine that with the sudden influx of patients from the NHS, the lack of PPE stock and such close quarters within care homes, for many it felt like they were set up to fail.
Many care workers have reported full floors of homes being wiped out by this silent killer, leaving staff devastated and terrified for their own safety, too.
The facts and figures of Coronavirus in care homes
On the 15th May 2020 the statistics on Covid-19 related deaths in the UK care sector was released. Between the period of 2nd March and 1st May 2020, there have been 12,526 deaths involving Covid-19, which is said to be 27.3% of all deaths of care home residents.
Coronavirus in care homes was the leading cause of death in male residents and second leading cause of death in women, after Dementia and Alzheimer’s, which was also the main pre-existing condition found amongst Coronavirus deaths.
Figures have been taken from the Office for National Statistics, published on 15th May 2020.
Are outbreaks of Covid-19 inevitable in care homes?
Covid-19 is highly risky for people living with multiple pre-existing conditions, is highly infectious, and many care teams lack the means to closely monitor and track potential symptoms of the virus amongst everyone in their care. By the time the government had addressed the nation on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, many lives had already been lost as the virus found its way into care settings. It is generally accepted that hospital discharges of untested patients who moved into care homes increased the risk of contracting the virus by other residents.
And in addition to this, self-isolation measures led to sudden staffing shortages, with many homes having no chance but to bring in agency staff, meaning care workers are moving from home to home, once again increasing the risk of transmission.
For the homes that have been successful in managing an outbreak, this is largely due to a proactive approach to closely monitoring and managing symptoms and suspected cases of Covid-19 and essentially doing everything possible to stop it in its tracks.
It is advised that carers should only work in one home while this pandemic is still ongoing and daily temperature checks should be carried out. All contact should be treated as close contact during the pandemic, and staff should be supported if they need to isolate after contact with a confirmed Covid case. Care facilities need to emphasise that staff will not be penalised and should not come to work when they are not feeling 100% even if there is a staff shortage. All care workers should be encouraged to report if they are feeling unwell and remain at home if they are showing symptoms. Testing should be arranged for these members of staff – there is now a government service dedicated to conduct testing in care homes (https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-care-home) which in time is expected to allow everyone in a care home to be tested.
Strict isolation policies
Carers should be segregated and only work with either suspected/confirmed residents with Covid-19, or those who are not infected and have clear signage as to who is in isolation and who is not.
There needs to be a strict isolation policy for anyone showing symptoms or suspected to have symptoms, including 14 day isolation for anyone being transferred from another home or facility, plus testing for these residents where possible. Residents who are isolating should do so even for meal times and all non-essential travel outside the home should be cancelled. Care teams must ensure all immunizations are up to date.
Be aware of potential asymptomatic residents
If transmission in a care home is suspected, then testing those who have potentially come into contact with the virus could highlight asymptomatic patients who would have otherwise gone undetected, thus causing a larger outbreak and more potential fatalities.
How Nourish is helping care homes to closely monitor and manage the spread of Covid-19
At Nourish, we have created digital protocols for managing Covid-19 across care teams and people receiving care and support: our Covid-19 Trackerallows care homes to record, track and monitor symptoms and cases of Coronavirus within each care team.
The protocol includes:
Nourish has also launched a free version of a Covid-19 tracker. This tracker can be accessed from any web browser, it’s free of charge, and you do not need to be a Nourish customer to use it. The tracker will allow you to track cases of infections across people in your care as well as your staff by closely monitoring symptoms and other factors. You can record:
Nourish has also been working with the NHS to enable anonymised data to be shared helping towards getting a better understanding of this pandemic across care providers. If you would like to find out more and sign up for the tracker, click here.
In addition to this, during the Covid-19 outbreak, Nourish has also enabled:
For further reading:
The UK’s population is growing rapidly, and the over 60s make up over 20% of us. With people living longer, there is expected to be over 3 million people aged 85+ by 2041. With this in mind, the growing number of elderly people living in residential care homes is also set to increase dramatically, but are they getting the quality of life they deserve in social care?
The ever-growing population means an increasing demand on the social care sector, and while we often think of care in a physical sense, mental health care is of equal importance and can often be overlooked due to not recognising the signs. This is something that could be said for society in general, and in recent years there has been a huge emphasis on recognising mental health and just how big an impact it can have on our lives.
The World Health Organisation reported that around 15% of those aged 60+ suffer from a mental disorder and have said that mental health problems are often under-identified by healthcare professionals as well as older people themselves, as the stigma surrounding these conditions contribute to making people reluctant to seek help.
Those in care homes may be more far more susceptible to these challenges for a number of reasons. Depression and loneliness are extremely common in the elderly, and being in an unfamiliar setting or environment can often be distressing (particularly for those who also have Dementia), so that initial transition from independent life into a social care setting is one of the most important times to be conscious of the possible signs of declining mental health.
Despite the fact we’re all living longer and staying active into later life, there is still a stigma around getting older. This is not something that should be feared, and the care that is provided to the elderly should be reflecting this key message. I’m sure most of us would struggle with the thought of getting older if it means we lose the ability to do certain things independently, which is why it is important that those in care experience very the best quality of life possible, maintaining both their dignity and their happiness.
This is best achieved through a person-centred approach to care. The person-centred approach is all about understanding the individuals’ needs and providing a unique care routine that works for them, rather than treating everyone the same. What works for one person may not for another, so here are five ways you can help improve the mental health and well-being in elderly care homes
The best way to keep the mind healthy is to keep it stimulated and active, which is why it’s so incredibly important to encourage elderly residents to participate in a number of activities throughout their week. A sign that they might not be feeling themselves is a sudden disinterest in socialising, engaging in activities or doing things they usually enjoy, so if you notice someone is not joining in as much, consider why that is and think about how you could shake up their routine.
Better still, speak to them and find out what things they would enjoy or are in the mood to do. Activities should be of genuine personal interest to individuals in order to really enrich their lives, and what one person likes, the other may not. For example, some activities on offer may not be suitable for some people with physical or learning difficulties, so it’s important to come up with a range of different activities that can be enjoyed by all.
Just because someone has moved into a social care setting, doesn’t mean they instantly lose their own individualism and identity, it’s important for carers to strongly encourage those they support to continue to embrace their personal identity.
If you want to improve mental health and well-being in elderly care homes, then simply having meaningful conversations about someone’s past, looking through old photos, and sharing stories with them, will allow carers to connect with those they support on a much deeper level; as a person rather than a “patient”. By finding out more about someone’s personal history and life, carers can better cater to their individual needs in care, and allow them to feel like they are still living their own life or have a sense of independence.
Dignity is extremely important to identity, and elderly people in care should be encouraged to do as much for themselves as possible, wherever possible, and this can be as simple as picking out their clothing and deciding what they want to do or eat that day.
Relationships are an important, if not an integral, part of who we are, and therefore play a huge role in the improvement of mental health and well-being in elderly care homes. As we have mentioned, loneliness is one of the primary causes of depression in the elderly population, and for some, their carer may be the only person they see or speak to all day. Those in residential care should be encouraged to stay social as often as possible, with visits from family and friends, or speaking on the phone/video calling if they are not able to come in person.
Having familiar faces in a care setting can be extremely helpful for someone trying to relax and feel more at ease, especially if they are in a new environment for the first time. It’s good to encourage friendships with others in care, and to form bonds with people they have daily interactions with. If someone suddenly stops wanting visitors or to interact and engage with other residents, this is almost definitely a sign that they are not quite feeling themselves or are feeling anxious or and depressed.
If someone is dealing with pain physically, this often affects the mind too. It is important to be incredibly thorough when checking in with those you support, as pain may not simply and clearly present itself to the eye. A lot of people can be embarrassed about an issue or not want to speak up and cause a fuss, so be sure to talk to them, and encourage them to open up about any discomfort they may be experiencing.
It is also really important to take physical or digital notes on any physical ailments, so that the right care can be provided and you can allow them to be seen by a healthcare professional if needed. This means you can tailor the care they receive and any activities they do to ensure maximum comfort and well-being.
Everyone’s mood fluctuates, and this could be for a number of reasons which are all very normal. It could be they’re simply not a morning person or they get cranky when they’re hungry, but it’s important to recognise when dips in mood could be an indication of something more serious.
In order to improve mental health and well-being in elderly care homes, it’s worth keeping track and logging the changing moods of the people you support. In doing so, you can gain a deeper understanding of trends (low mood linked to medication, for example), or whether there is something else that needs to be addressed.
Depression can present itself in many different ways which can often be so subtle that they get missed entirely. A person-centred approach to care requires carers to really get to know and understand the individual needs of those they support, so that they can quickly notice personality changes that might be a sign of depression or other mental health issues.
Those are our 5 ways to improve mental health and well-being in elderly care homes. At Nourish, we’re all about keeping people connected and promoting person-centered care. For more information on how we can help improve the health and wellbeing in your care homes, get in touch with the team or book a demo.
New technology in care is revolutionising the way we support people and artificial intelligence is quickly making an impression on the social and health care sectors. From the latest smartwatches recording our morning runs to electronic care planning systems and even robot surgery! New innovative tech systems and devices are collecting data and analysing trends to identify patterns, and cross-referencing patient data in order to gain quick and reliable insight. While some are celebrating AI’s ability to revolutionise the way we care, many still fear this technology and see it as a threat to their personal security, something we have looked at previously ‘Electronic Care Planning: Change Doesn’t Need to Be Feared’
A large part of this fear is down to education, and in order to encourage not just care professionals, but anyone and everyone who interacts with the world of care, to have confidence in these technologies, it’s important to highlight the great benefits that they offer to the lives of those we love and care for.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the latest technologies that are enhancing the world of care management through data analysis and the well-being of those in care.
One of the new technologies we are seeing revolutionising the way we care is Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, which could soon become standard in dementia care homes. More than just a form of entertainment, some recent small studies suggest that VR environments could help trigger old memories in seniors, helping to make them feel less alone and confused.
Not only does this have positive effects on those living with dementia, but it improves their relationship with their carers and families too. It can reduce aggressive behaviour in patients and allows carers to gain better insight and understanding of those they’re caring for, thus improving caring interactions.
The FDA has recently approved the first version of a Glucose Monitoring System, which can be implanted just below the skin and has a sensor that can be worn for up to 90 days. These systems continuously monitor sugar levels and send data to a display device, and they also allow you to set up alerts for high, low or significant changes.
This will allow carers to monitor those with chronic diseases like diabetes much more closely, including during the night, and they can track trends in changes to sugar levels. A CGM also reduces the need to do finger prick tests and allows you to administer more accurate doses of insulin. Ultimately this device enables carers to act quicker and care better.
5G is quickly changing the efficiency of social care. With analogue signals soon to be switched off, 5G will allow much faster, safer and more reliable handling of data. 5G offers speeds up to 10 x faster than 4G, and it’s being used in a number of ways to provide support, including remote monitoring.
Remote monitoring can benefit elderly or vulnerable groups who receive care as it can reduce the number of trips they need to take to the hospital. Care professionals can receive and analyse data, as well as share data securely and in real time. Devices powered by 5G could help carers detect problems earlier, and refer and exchange data with other care professionals for more accurate and better quality care.
Smart technology has been on the scene for a little while now, but it remains one of the leading technologies revolutionising the way we care. Homes are kitted out with everything from smartphones to energy meters and assistive technology like Alexa or Google. And this is no different in a care environment. Carers are quickly beginning to adopt a digital way of working, using electronic care planning systems (like Nourish), to enhance the way they care.
Many organisations in the care sector are now seeing the benefits of going paperless. Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but it allows for far more accurate data capturing, recording at the point of care, and most importantly, more person centred care because staff are no longer having to take hours doing admin tasks.
While many of these technologies may still seem like something from the distant future, 2020 is seeing a far more encouraging approach to integrating into the world of digital, with some of these things already being used by social and healthcare professionals.