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.
Technology in Social Care…
Since Kate Terroni became Chief Inspector this Summer, I have been reflecting on how a new person in that post would see their role in promoting innovation in the care sector. It was with childlike excitement that I read Kate’s latest blog post. In this, Kate describes how she has been shadowing some of her inspectors and her findings – and it was fantastic to get her initial thoughts on the use of technology by care teams.
“Speaking with carers I have found that this technology means they can spend more time with the people they support and less time doing paperwork — a welcome benefit of technology.”, Kate Terroni, Oct 2019
And what is the most refreshing is the clarity of thought on the difference between “using technology” and “innovation”, something that resonates immensely with how we see the world at Nourish.
We have long been believers that carefully designed technology, with the right associated services, can enable a whole range of cultural changes. Including how care teams perceive their own ability to drive innovation. It is important that care teams don’t develop a perception that innovation is something you buy. It is not.
Care teams showing CQC what good technology can achieve is a wonderful demonstration that technology makes a difference for them. It hasn’t always been this way.
Going forward it’s important to acknowledge that for a long time, many people misunderstood the potential for technology in Social Care. With a dozen challenges constantly putting pressure on care teams, the prospect of making a big change such as embracing digital tools for managing care has often filled people with dread – which is very understandable. And historically it wasn’t just for fear of change that care teams have put this off.
The maturity of the products available has come a long way in the last 5 years. Prior attempts to adopt technology by care teams invariably resulted in frustration – products that looked amazing in the eyes of a manager or the owner of a care home ended up requiring hours of training for care workers with clunky user experience, poor customer support, resulting in failed uptake, and a background feeling that “technology doesn’t work in social care”. Care workers were never heard in the process of choosing digital tools, and the introduction of technology was often done in the assumption that it would “help the numbers by making carers more efficient” – as if efficiency could be introduced by some sort of industrial process of optimisation. Thankfully, the sector and the technology that supports it have moved on.
Like any context that is as complex and nuanced as social care, the thought of designing technology at arm’s length resulted in oversimplified solutions often shaped within a software team which would then sell it as fast as possible – this was never going to work. So, what is it about social care that is so different from, say, healthcare? Why can’t we just use a personal health record and expand it?
Well, we can’t. We can’t because social care is not just about someone’s condition or frailty. Good social care services support the person as a whole. And people are extremely diverse – society as a whole is learning that there is no such thing as a template for an “older person” – as we have more people living longer our cultural stereotypes of what is an “older person” are crumbling – older people are “people” – we can’t stereotype them. And therefore, there is no universal template for an Older Person’s Care Plan. Good social care for a person living with frailty supports the person in a way that is aware of the whole person – not just of their frailty. And whereas a person has dozens of encounters with healthcare services in a year, the same person may have dozens of encounters with their care team in a single day.
Care Plans are as diverse as the people they are designed to support.
So, having spent 6 years continuously co-designing Nourish with hundreds of care providers, it’s no surprise care teams feel so different about us. We are not a “technology” company. We are a company that uses a software product and services to make care teams feel empowered to improve and innovate in the context of the care they provide. Carers don’t need to sit on training sessions for hours, it’s intuitive technology that allows them to understand the context of a person, know how to support and what’s important for the person, record naturally as part of providing support rather than “doing record keeping at the end of the shift”, and feel empowered. Empowered because they can spend more time with the people they support. And in addition, from knowing their residents better, they can continuously innovate, suggest adjustments to support plans, identify shifts in personal preferences or suggest new activities that are likely to improve the quality of life for each person.
Innovation happens when care providers design new and better ways to discharge people from hospital, or when they find different ways to enable people to go on a holiday, fulfil a last wish, increase their comfort, find or revive a sense of purpose, supporting every person, old and young, to be and feel the best they can feel.
Technology that enables care teams to do this, will be at the heart of all good care teams in the future. And we are delighted to see the Care Quality Commission so clearly sharing our vision on this.
Could technology help your care service?
Find out more about whether using an electronic care planning could help you and those you support here.
Discover the benefits that care providers using Nourish have experienced since using our innovative care management software, such as increasing 1-to-1 resident care by 40%. By facilitating efficient communication and record keeping between managers, carers and shifts, Nourish are proud to demonstrate the results with a great little infographic.
So far, over 2.6 million electronic care records have been recorded, saving over an hour a day vs. paper-based notes and more. This care management software infographic demonstrates the potential benefits from using Nourish has on empowering the care you provide.
To find out how Nourish can help with your care management, please email email@example.com or call 02380 00 22 88
Recently Nourish was approached by a journalist from The Guardian and asked to comment about several key issues currently impacting the world of care, both for those that provide it and to those who are being care for. The following is a full response breakdown from Nourish’s MD – Nuno Almeida and contributing to the Guardian’s article “The tech making a difference to social care“.
How big an issue is effective resource management for care providers and what are the type of tools Nourish is providing to help them streamline their operations?
The need to recruit and maintain good care teams and pay them appropriately whilst the sector is under the constant pressure of negative news and budget cuts means that managing a care provider operation is far from straightforward, now more than ever.
On top of these pressures, care homes are having to align with two competing trends: on one hand there is a race to luxury, with the wealthy ‘baby boomer’ generation setting higher expectations of quality and transparency. But on the other hand there is a trend for people who require financial assistance to avoid admission into a care home until very late in life, in circumstances that determine high degrees of dependency, which is at odds with the trends for councils to slash spending on adult social care.
Navigating these trends, managing change and resources, while ensuring compliance with CQC or CSSIW, NHS and local authority auditing teams makes for a perfect storm, and one that exposes clients and providers to clinical and business risks. Most care providers use paper based systems as the main support to plan and manage care and support. Beyond the high costs of archiving, and all the stationery, carers, who tend to be recruited for their empathy, are expected to write daily notes of all their services provided and observations. And care managers are expected to interpret these notes, and update care plans accordingly. This is known to take carers time away from face to face care.
By empowering carers and care managers to manage all care planning and daily care information through digital platforms with smartphones and tablets, Nourish helps care teams in improving their care information while reducing the time carers spend recording their notes, and ensures care plans are continuously updated. Most providers using the platform report a substantial savings, but the main impact is the increased reassurance of the quality of care provided. Care managers say they “sleep better at night” with “an increase of 40% in the time spend face to face with residents”, owners say that “it feels as if we have an extra carer per shift”. Financially, using a well-designed digital care management system means that carers don’t require as much training, meaning that turning a home into a paper free environment is done in hours rather than weeks or months. Most of our clients are reporting savings that exceed the cost of our product.
Is smart, mobile technology better at putting the person being cared for first?
The real potential of digital systems is by creating views of data and user journeys that bring the right information to the right person at the right time. At Nourish we designed the entire system and design based on the person receiving care. It is by most measures a counter-intuitive decision. Usually systems are designed for the client, the person or organisation who is paying for the solution. But we made the call to make the person in care the focal point of all design decisions. This required a significant investment as we had to develop a whole framework of data management that allows Nourish to serve carefully selected information to carers and care managers. A care provider can manage all aspects of care for an individual effortlessly. Things such as nutrition, mobility, tissue viability or continence are easily managed, while taking into account the cross interactions between all those areas for an individual. Because the information for an individual is laid out in a way that is naturally centred on them, it becomes possible to create algorithms that check for missed support or clinical interventions, or trends that may indicate reasons for concern.
We have several examples of people who used to skip services, e.g. refusing a breakfast, and because all of the information about them and their services is now structured in person-centred way, the reasons for those services being skipped became immediately obvious. This allowed care providers to make changes to their service that resulted in clear improvements of the care they provided.
Good care providers also know that good care involves acknowledging the abilities that the person has, not just their frailty. Recognising this, Nourish is developing a self-management app that allows a person to engage with recording their daily routines, to self-manage their long term conditions, report their wellbeing and the care they receive. This will allow providers, families and individuals to become an integral part of a coherent circle of care in giving people the support they need, when they need it.