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Many care providers are now looking towards a smarter way of working, and with the recent strain put on the care sector due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it seems now more than ever people will be looking to make the switch to digital.

In this guide to electronic care planning, we map out what the best ways of going about selecting a care plan provider are, and answer that all important question: what are the costs?

Electronic care planning is a very recent and modern market, with most of its current players being fewer than 10 years old. As a result of this, pricing is often a topic of discussion: is it driven by its market, or is the market driving it instead? Is the market mature enough to represent a fair value or are providers offering a round number and see if it sticks? How is pricing calculated – by the number of staff, or people we support? How much is the upfront/setup cost, and how quickly does it start showing a good return on investment? How can I ease off this investment if I am a smaller provider? Can I get support from the Government/my local authority? This guide to electronic care planning tries to answer all these questions and leave you with enough material so that you can set a budget before you start looking for the most adequate ECP for your care provision.

Where should I start?

Let’s start with the basics: your budgeting for an ECP is usually broken down in three different types of payments: Licensing (recurring costs), Implementation (one-off initial costs) and add-ons (additional costs if there is a variation from the initial requirements).

1. Licensing: this is your subscription cost which will be the bulk of your budget; it should cover the usage of your solution, any server costs, security, backups, support, account management, and product development.

????Tip: Always ask if the list above is included in your licensing cost. Nobody likes being surprised with a lower licensing price only to find out later that support or account management are add-on.

2. Implementation: this is your initial setup cost, which is usually roughly the equivalent of the first year of your licensing cost. It should cover any hardware, training, and setup fees.

????Tip: Some companies might offer you implementation at a very low cost, or even for free. It’s
good to bear in mind that this may indicate that a company is relatively young and might not be as
robust as other, more mature providers.

3. Add-ons: Anything outside of the scope of the initial plan would fit this category. For instance, if you expand to get a new unit, require a couple of additional pieces of hardware, or require additional training, you should expect there to be a cost for these.

????Tip: A transparent company will always be clear about any add-on costs. Be cautious if any Licensing or Implementation cost mentioned above fits into the “add-on” category, since you should expect them as standard.

I started my research, but licensing costs are wildly different across different care plan software, why?

Usually the cost represents a breakdown of the points mentioned above: the usage of the solution, server costs, security, backups, support, account management, and product development. A lower cost usually means some of these key elements is severely reduced or even not included.

Another important point is understanding whether the solutions is fully cloud-based, on-premise, or mixed. Most modern ECPs are fully cloud-based, which should be your preference: it will be much more robust, future proof, with regular updates, and you will be able to access your care records from anywhere (with the right permissions).

On-premise solutions usually have a higher implementation cost and require higher add-on fees when there is a maintenance problem. Cloud-based solutions are usually more expensive initially but being future proof, you are not surprised with hidden fees and required upgrades at any point.

????Tip: ask the following questions to understand if the service will be within your expectations:

1) How often is the system updated with newer, better features and clinical updates from the sector?

2) Who receives support, how is it offered, and is it 24/7 all year round? 

3) Is the data stored in the UK and how often are backups conducted?

The different types of licensing

Our guide to electronic care planning will break down the different types of licensing you can get. You will most likely encounter one based on the number of people you support, one based on the number of staff you have, and one based on the number of devices you are using.

1. Based on the people you support: this usually gives you a fair price because it’s directly based on your revenue.

????Tip: some providers offer you discounts based on different brackets so try to use that to your advantage. Also, clarify whether this impacts the capacity or occupancy of your numbers

2.Based on the number of staff you have: roughly a similar cost to the one above depending on the ratio of staff to people you support.

????Tip: ensure you have enough accounts for every member of staff or you will start losing accountability if people start sharing accounts. It might save you a very small cost initially, but it can have dramatic impact in evidencing care on a later stage.

3.Based on the number of devices you are using: usually more common in legacy ECPs, you will only pay for how many devices you require. Usually a good option if you have a low ratio of staff to people you support.

????Tip: Same as above, ensure every member of staff has access to the ECP at any point in time. If you neglect this, the ECP can become a downgrade from paper, since there will be times where staff will have no access to care plans, or no way of evidencing their care.

As a smaller care provider, how do I tackle the high cost of the implementation?

As with any decision, this will have an impact on your business. You should look at your options, even once you have picked your favourite ECP. Our guide to electronic care planning provides some ideas for how you can mitigate the implementation cost to a minimum:

1. Can you do one or more training days remotely? Usually the cost is reduced in this case, and there are many benefits such as multiple people being able to join, the ability to record the session and reuse it in the future, and ultimately best use of time. With the world adapting to the spread of Covid-19, this is likely to become the norm for many.

However, try keeping remote sessions only to staff who is comfortable doing this – and support staff struggling with technology with face to face training.

2. If you have more than one home, try joining the senior staff together, cutting the cost in half. The more homes you have, the more cost efficient it can be. But bear in mind too many might shift a workshop environment to a less practical “classroom” approach which might not be ideal.

3. Look into alternative hardware options. Cheaper hardware usually means more headaches in the long run, but if you have a strong policy for hardware handling in place, it might be worth looking at all the options.

4. Financing is another option – ask your ECP provider if they can recommend anyone or do your own research if you’re more comfortable doing so. It’s not unusual to see single Care Homes splitting the implementation cost across 12 or 24 months.

How quickly do I see a return on my investment?

Picking an ECP is invariably a decision to which Care Providers say “I don’t know how I did not do this earlier” since it’s one of the quickest returns for a business which relies so heavily on data. You can split the benefits into tangible (direct saving in cost) and intangible (indirect saving in cost) savings. When you take notice of intangible savings is when you truly realise the advantages of an ECP.

1. Tangible savings: stationery, paper, printer leasing, printer ink, files, binders, pens, you name it. Any expense you currently have with paperwork is almost immediately reduced to almost zero. Archiving is another factor you will realise in the mid to long term: whether you store your archived paperwork in a shed, your attic, a room, or externally with a storage company, this is either direct capital or an asset that you will be saving: usually this means you will either make significant savings or be able to have an extra room in your care setting.

2. Intangible savings:

Conclusion 

Adopting an ECP is not a question of if but when. More and more care providers are adopting ECP, which is giving them a business advantage over other providers who are still reliant on paper-based records. More emphasis is being placed upon the value and benefits ECP can provide, with even the likes of inspectors and commissioners endorsing using this approach to recording care. Take advantage of this by comparing the already mature ECPs in the market since it’s not a new sector anymore, and you will quickly reap the benefits described in this article. 

Final Tips

????Tip: reflect or measure how long it’s taking your senior team to do audits, reporting, and staying on top of care plan reviews. This should be a great foundation for how much you will be able to budget in your decision. Repeat the same exercise for your costs on staff recruitment, retention, and overall happiness in writing paper notes every day.

????Tip: When picking an ECP, prepare your meeting well by setting a list of criteria you are looking for by including not only required features but also what is included in the cost breakdown. The better prepared you are, the less hidden fees will surprise you.

????Tip: Moving to an ECP is a massive business decision. Ask your peers, local providers, and communities for a reputable provider rather than being driven purely by cost – cheap is not always best.

????Tip: Do not neglect the quality of Support and Account Management. An ECP requires a significant process of change management in your care provision, so think of it as a journey and never as an end goal.

To download this guide as a PDF, click here. If you’d like to find out more about what Nourish can do for your electronic care planning needs, then drop us a message or book a demo today!

The CQC is starting to recognise the importance of technology within social care and is actively pushing the benefits of a number of technologies such as telecare, telemonitoring, mobile health and digital records. This includes the likes of electronic care planning with a platform such as Nourish.  But how a more efficient care management system boost your CQC ratings?  .

Going digital is quickly becoming the norm in the care sector and for good reason. Efficiency, data protection and compliance are just a few of the things that make electronic care planning desirable to many care providers. And while they are not currently mandatory within the care sector, they do have a significant chance of boosting your CQC ratings.

What’s wrong with our current way of working?

Nothing. Many care organisations are very happy with their existing structure and processes, but it’s the paper-based system that’s slowing them down. There are plenty of organisations who have good or outstanding CQC ratings even with a paper-based system, but an electronic care planning system can help you achieve these scores quicker and easier, so you can actually focus on giving person-centred care rather than feeling like you’re always filling out paperwork purely to meet CQC’s expectations.

Having everything recorded in one place can make audits far less stressful, and as the CQC also start to realise how much easier it is to complete an inspection when everything is managed electronically, making the switch to a digital way of working seems the natural way forward.

But electronic care planning isn’t about changing the way you work, it’s simply about using a different platform to enhance your current way of working. At Nourish we designed a totally flexible platform that can be moulded to suit your current way of working, not the other way around, while allowing you to reap the communication and responsiveness benefits of managing information digitally.

No matter what type of care you are providing, whether it be residential care for older people, support for people with learning difficulties, mental health, dementia or other, Nourish’s electronic care planning system can help you focus on the people you support rather than paperwork.

Isn’t it just the same as what we do now, but on a computer?

Electronic care planning can be so much more than what it says on the tin. Some electronic care plans are quite literally just digitally recorded care plans, the same as they are on paper. While these do have some benefits, in order to see changes in efficiency, you need a platform that is going to refine the way you already do things, so that it’s quicker, easier and clearer for carers to use.

In order to use electronic care planning to improve your CQC ratings, you don’t necessarily need to change the way you provide the care, only the way you record and evidence it. Electronic care planning can offer different ways of doing things that allow you to stay focused on person-centred care, most importantly, it can allow you to have more face-to-face time with those you support rather than spending time on lengthy paperwork.

Nourish is an innovative platform with ever-evolving features that can help you provide better daily care outside of the electronic care plans. So whether you already have an effective structure in place or you’re looking to improve the way you do things, Nourish’s electronic care planning system has a lot to offer.

Transparency of Care is Key

We believe transparency and consistency across care teams is essential when it comes to achieving good and outstanding CQC ratings. Nourish is designed in a way to encourage clearer communication to empower carers across the sector.

We want to help you provide the best quality care in the simplest form. Rather than try to create something very complex, we have kept the user interface clutter free and the features limited to the things you need. Care plans are one of our most-used features, however there are many other features which have proven to be incredibly useful when it comes to meeting CQC standards.

How electronic care planning can help

Nourish has a number of unique features that can help you build a more effective care management system and boost your CQC ratings. Here’s just a few…

Seamless handovers

Nourish’s handover feature is one of the main ways we encourage transparency across care teams. If one of your members of staff comes back after a week or two of holiday, catching up can seem impossible with a huge pile of papers to work through. This is where things can get missed and your CQC ratings could slip.

The handover feature allows you to view the past days and weeks all in one place, and easily pick out any important notes that may have been recorded in your absence. Carers can leave specific handover notes for those who are absent, and these are then there for when they come back to work. It’s also the perfect tool for ensuring everyone knows what’s happening at the changeover of shifts, so someone starting the night shift will be able to clearly see everything that’s happened throughout the day.

These notes will also be visible in the relevant sections and can be viewed when recording at the point of care and can also be read easily by a CQC inspector and evidences the clear communication within the team

Body maps

Skin conditions are usually monitored and recorded on paper, which means that when changes occur (which they can do frequently), it can be difficult to update the records quickly enough to pass this information on to a wider team. The body map feature allows you to report on new and existing skin conditions at the point of care, creating a clearer flow of communication and reduces the risk of mishandling of those who do have certain conditions.

The transparency that this feature ensures that everyone is equipped with the relevant information to do their job safely and effectively, and with everything recorded on the body map within the Nourish app, when it comes to a CQC inspection, there is clear evidence of how you manage this.

Scored assessments

Nourish’s scored assessment feature allows you to closely monitor those you’re supporting in order to provide the right kind of care. By answering a series of questions, Nourish can then generate a score and create alerts for certain things so that carers can react quickly to change.

This provides a more accurate way of tracking things such as nutrition, fluid intake, behaviour, wellbeing and more, so that you can provide care that is completely tailored to the individual’s needs.

With a slicker, smoother way of creating care plans, recording notes, and managing staff, everyone benefits from electronic care planning. Not only are people receiving more person-centred care, but carers feel empowered by the open communication and clarity surrounding care plans, which ultimately makes for far more efficient management within the care sector.

No matter what your current CQC rating, the Nourish system can help you improve your overall efficiency, saving you time and stress when it comes to those all-important CQC inspections.

Those details that make your care team stand out and life more colourful

When care teams have the right culture and values and the time to focus on each person, this becomes visible in the little details: receiving personal care according to the individual’s preferences, finding what is meaningful for each person and enabling each and every one to have aspirations.

Whether that’s watching the cricket, feeding the ducks or checking the grandson’s new update on Facebook. Being able to demonstrate how your team goes above and beyond to help each person they support find meaning and wellbeing every day is a big part of what moves the needle towards the coveted Outstanding rating.

And Nourish enables exactly that do be done simply, by configuring each interaction so it’s aligned with personal preferences, or by recording ad-hoc interactions on the go, with photos, voice annotations recorded by your team or the person themselves. It’s the ultimate demonstration that each person is living a fulfilled life, above and beyond being kept safe, their life has meaning, and the care team is able to innovate every day to improve the wellbeing of those they support.

New Technology in Care

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

Virtual Reality Therapy 

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. 

Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) System

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

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

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 with Technology in Social Care …

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.

Person Centred Care…

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.

Ven Diagram of care needs for people needing support
Care Plans are as diverse as the people they are designed to support.

Care Plans are as diverse as the people they are designed to support.

Empowering Care Teams…

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.

Care providers far and wide are already making the transition to digital care management; benefiting from higher quality care plans and notes, compliant and accurate audit trails and a greater degree of control across the management process.

These benefits are being felt at every level, from care managers and carers to the people they care for and their families. Here, we talk to three experienced care providers about the individual impact Nourish Care is having across the entire care service.

How does Nourish impact carers?

For carers, Nourish is empowerment at the point of care. By using well designed and easy to use applications on handheld devices, carers can record notes as they go.

Carers are thereby able to focus a lot more on the person they are working with, and encouraged to record the person-centred care notes that inspectors say distinguishes a care service. Recording notes alongside care also promotes greater clarity, adds useful context and ensures all information is recorded as soon as possible – not forgotten over the course of the day. Recording as they go, carers have the opportunity to really demonstrate the great quality of care they are giving.

Simon Francis, IT Project Manager at Silverline Care, commented: “The main thing for our carers is that the recording of notes is a lot easier. What they were doing beforehand was having to provide care and then try and hold all that information until the end of the shift. Care for residents is now much more to the point and accessible. There is better communication between staff and everyone involved in the client’s care can see what care has already been provided by others. This has made handover a lot easier. It also means input from the carers feeds directly into the care plan, meaning it’s updated within minutes of it taking place. Recording in real time means we don’t lose any important information.”

Paul Dennis-Andrews, Operations Manager at Encompass, has been working with the Nourish Care since spring 2016. He added: “The digital care management system has had a highly positive impact on the overall culture of our service – more than we ever would have thought. Staff who might have had difficulties with the written word are enthused by the ability to speak verbally into the devices to record information. It has been a refreshing and efficient change to a longstanding process of handwritten documentation.

“The large collection of paper files has been replaced with discrete modern handsets and tablets that staff can keep on their person, promoting highly person-centred support exactly how the individual would like to receive it. Documentation is recorded live and visible immediately to anyone with permission, and every aspect of the system is customisable and can be evolved to needs.”

What is the impact on care managers?

Probably one of the biggest benefits for senior carers and care managers is that all information is in one place and accessible at any time. Care notes and assessments feed directly into the care plans and can be accessed by all who need to see them. This develops a culture of knowledge-sharing and allows for more effective care monitoring and visibility of critical information in real-time.

Digital care management also allows for instant reporting, which gives managers back their time to ‘walk the floor’ and interact with their staff and clients.

Megan Read, Care Home Manager of Grassington House emphasises how the digital system has improved her ability to manage: “Because I have a digital overview of real-time information I can easily monitor what is happening within the home. I can set up anything I want to be recorded, schedule things for the carers to be aware of and make sure that nothing is getting missed.

“For when I’m conducting care plan reviews, I can look at the logs that carers input to directly review and evidence any changes made. Beforehand, you would have had to look through endless files and pages, and you simply wouldn’t be able to go through it all. Now, I have no files in the office, everything is on the system; my office can literally move around with me anywhere.”

Simon agreed: “In leadership, the digital system is allowing managers to spot issues more quickly; alerts raised by carers come straight through to the manager, who can then respond quickly and with all the necessary information”.

Paul added: “Monitoring the quality of the support provided is much more efficient and less intrusive; utilising the Cloud to view live records. It is easier to ensure care is being given and support is provided how the individual would like to receive it. Teams are now positively communicating and sharing ideas, and where changes are required, managers can make these instantly, either across the organisation or simply for individual.”

Managers can also easily establish what information they want recorded, and monitor whether this is being followed. Megan states: “As a manager I can literally prompt what information I want recorded from carers and when. The amount of detail I can now see in recorded notes is amazing compared to what it used to be on paper.”

Simon has also experienced improved quality of care information: “During the transfer to digital care management, we’ve been able to see the quality of our care plans. It is an impossible feat to trail through reams of paper plans for every single resident, but with digital we can check care plans easily and demand the quality we want. It’s meant we can really see the overall process and make sure the right care is being delivered in line with the residents wishes.”

How does the digital care management system impact the people you care for?

As Simon and Paul state, by recording care as you go, you create a more person-centred and accessible quality of care and you have more time available. Carers have the tools and information they need to provide personal and responsive care, and with extra time, can involve the resident directly and sociably in inputting the care notes.

Megan encourages her carers to be sociable and engage the residents when writing notes; this can mean sitting down with the resident, having a cup of tea and a real conversation about how the resident is doing. She has found that residents prefer the digital care management system once they understand it because carers are able to spend more time with them. Megan commented: “Carers can be sociable and engage with residents so they can contribute to their own notes, keeping them much more involved with their care. Beforehand, carers would have to spend time away from the residents at the end of the shift completing paperwork. The digital system is also really useful for bi-annual reviews; I can hold a meeting in the lounge and connect my laptop to the main screen so we can all see the information and have a really good chat about the care plan with the resident – it’s a lot more involved, but also efficient, and residents like to be able to see their care plans so easily.”

Care information recorded electronically is also much easier to share; not only with other medical professionals, but also with close friends and family. Innovative care providers can utilise existing resources and involve these other parties from the very beginning; you can enable a service user to design their own care plan, involve family members in the on-boarding process or allow informal carers to contribute directly to the care notes. Having a digital system opens up vast opportunities to get better connected with the whole circle of care.

By enabling better communication and ensuring information is shared with those who need to know, your care team will be more aware of the individual service user’s needs; and ultimately, informed care leads to better care.

Get in touch today to see how digital care management can work for you.

Let’s Chat! 

Digital transformation in the care sector is no longer the future and the benefits of the technological revolution have been felt far and wide across the sector.

Despite this, and the numerous benefits that technologies have shown in all areas of care, we are still seeing some reluctance towards digital transformation. While there is a common misconception that this is down to many care professionals fearing technology, this is simply not the case.

Past research from Skills for Care revealed that 95% of those working in the sector use digital technology in their work; and that the great majority are strongly positive about the potential of digital technology to improve efficiency and quality of care services. We also know that digital transformations are occurring, because we work with care providers up and down the country who are looking to digitise their care records every day.

It is, therefore, not the fear of technology that acts as the barrier, but, in fact, the fear of change.

Perceptions vs. truth of digital transformation

In our experience, there is a clear misunderstanding between what the perceived barriers are to adopting technology, versus what the actual barriers are.

Few worry about job automation. There are many instances where advancements in technology remove the need for physical people – you only need to go to your local supermarket to see self-service check-outs, or go online to realise how much of your daily life you can manage without interacting with a person.

In the care sector, however, suggestions that Pepper the Robot will eventually replace carers are disregarded because there are two key things that computers cannot impersonate: social intelligence and emotional interpretation. The adoption of technology in care is not about replacing human interaction, but facilitating more of it through time-saving.

In contrast, the biggest barrier that we do hear care providers talk about is their concern that their staff will not have the necessary skills or inclination to adopt technology. In reality, we actually find the opposite is true.

According to Skills for Care’s The State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce in England, 2017, the average age of a care worker is 43 and a fifth are aged over 55. Data from Statista shows that in these age groups, smartphone ownership is at 88% and 47% respectively. So, the physical use of technology is not alien. With a new younger generation of care workers coming into the sector, all of whom have grown up using technology, confidence in ability is only likely to increase.

The level of notes we have to record in care is often a point of contention and this can also act as a barrier. However, the fact of the matter is that we have to record notes, because without doing so, we have no method of evidencing care. After all, ‘if it wasn’t written down, it didn’t happen’.

It’s not about working out how we can get away with recording less information, but instead how we can improve the amount of high-quality information we record in the least amount of time. This is exactly what digital solutions allow you to do.

Further to this, technology also allows you to make use of all of that recorded information, so that it can be better used to directly benefit care; rather than being filed away in a locked room.

Effective change management is key

The problem, usually, is not care team capability or the use of the actual technology, but how the digital transformation process is approached, and the tools and support provided during this process.

Going from paper to electronic care notes and care plans is not just a change in the physical process, but also to the content that is recorded. As a result, the approach to managing the change must address culture as much as technology.

In the latest issue of Care Management Matters, our Head of Digital Transformation, Luis Zenha Rela, explains how care providers can implement an effective change management process.

You can read the full article online here.

Digital transformation will never be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scenario, and the power of technology comes just as much from how it is integrated as the functions of the technology itself.

Embrace this innovation, choose the right solution for you and give special consideration to the change management process, and you might be surprised by how much technology can enhance the quality of care your service provides.

Last week, we attended yet another fantastic Dorset Care Conference, hosted by Care Management Matters at the Lighthouse in Poole. This time, we were invited to present on the role of digital in modern care delivery.

The fact that so many people joined us in the discussion was testament to the event organisers, but also showed that more and more care providers are considering how technology can help them improve the way they plan, record and report care.

Our care consultant, Luis Rela, shared some useful tips on how to approach the digital transformation process and how change management is key; while Juliana Jeffery from Luxury Care Group talked about her experience of using the Nourish system in her care home and how to overcome challenges.

The floor was obviously open for questions at the end, of which there were many. Here, we’ve shared a few of them.

What is the cost against impact of change?

Understandably, a banker in the audience wanted to know about the return on investment of going digital in care. Luis explained that there are both tangible and intangible benefits, and that care providers should think about the bigger picture when considering investing in a digital care management system:

“The tangible benefits are easier to define, of course. You only need to think about the paper you will no longer need to print, store, archive and shred to understand how those costs can be reduced over time.

“There are then intangible benefits such as time saved by recording notes digitally. Many of our care providers say they save at least one hour per carer each day because they don’t have to spend that time at the end of a shift writing notes and instead, record as they go. For some care organisations, this leads to a cut in the number of staff needed on each shift. However, what we find is that care providers instead maintain staff levels to increase the available one-on-one care for residents.

“In fact, one provider said that this decision led to them achieving an outstanding rating with CQC across three of the homes in the group.”

Juliana added: “There is also less time needed to get new or agency staff up to date with individual care plans and they have the time to get to know and spend time with that resident instead.”

So digital transformation is not primarily about driving costs down but improving the amount and quality of care that can be provided.

How long does it take to fully transition from paper to digital?

We were joined in the room by care providers of varying sizes, and many of them wanted to know how much time it takes to go from paper notes and care plans to digital ones.

Luis said: “Typically, it takes two months and we break down the transfer into stages; starting with daily notes and then care plans. However, this really depends on the size of the care home and whether it’s part of a group. If you take Luxury Care for example, they are still going through the process but that’s because they are doing one care home at a time. It also depends on whether we are developing unique features that work with their service. In one instance, a provider wanted to amend the digital care plan template to mirror that of the paper one, so we would do that first.”

Another member of the audience, who is already using Nourish in their care service, commented: “You could argue that there is never an end date once you are using an electronic care management system because you are always evolving and innovating. Every day we are learning something new and get more confident with the system, so every time we have a new idea, we integrate that into our process.”

What equipment is needed for digital care management and who provides that?

Going digital obviously involves the use of physical handsets and electronic devices and some members of the audience were concerned that the responsibility of purchasing such equipment would be left to them.

As part of the Nourish service, we provide tablets for managers; handheld devices similar to Smart Phones for carers; and secure log-ins to our cloud-based system which can also be accessed from desktop. The number of devices needed will usually be the same amount of people you will have on each shift. The user will keep the device for the full duration of a shift, log out and handover to the carer taking over the next shift. Each member of the care team has their own log in with set permissions that have been pre-agreed and there are also log ins for agency workers.

Luis explained why this is the best way forward for everyone: “Care providers do not need the added pressure of having to find and purchase their own compatible devices and set them up. Because our software is completely adaptable to the care you provide, we get these ready for you prior to your training. We also have a dedicated technical support team on hand to help you with any queries.”

Has there been an impact on communication?  

During her part of the presentation, Juliana explained how having a digital care management system in place had made communication between members of the care teams much easier and members of the audience wanted her to expand on that.

“Because it’s as easy as using Facebook and the device is with them all the time, it’s great for communicating important messages between members of the care team,” said Juliana. “Everyone can see and send messages through Nourish and handovers are now seamless. It’s been brilliant for ensuring everyone is informed immediately. For example, we also use this system to make sure we notify everyone of quality assurance audit results, which would otherwise have been left for meetings. Now everyone feels involved.”

Juliana also highlighted the added benefits of using these devices when recording notes: “We have carers who are not confident in writing notes or perhaps English isn’t their first language, so they love the speech dictation feature. As you speak, it records what you say.”

If you have any questions about the role of digital in modern care delivery and would like to find out how your care service can benefit, please give our team a call on 02380 002288.

As a whole, the care sector is yet to fully embrace the power of Digital Transformation and all of the benefits that can offer.

Working with Care Management Matters magazine, we shared our views on how to make the most of current digital technology within the care environment; to enhance the depth of notes and care plans, to allow a greater degree of control across the management process and ultimately support care providers and care teams to provide the best possible quality of care.

Gaining knowledge and insight from three care providers who have embraced Digital Transformation, the article answers some important questions. How does the digital system impact at the individual level? What impact will the digital system have on staff? And how will that impact the quality of care you provide?

The full article can be found here:

Unlocking the Value of Digital in Care

Below, however, we discuss our Five Top Tips for how you, as a care provider, can make the most of Digital Transformation.

1. Internal Support

Firstly, for a smooth, quick and efficient transition there will need to be strong board-level support to align all stakeholders. One key tip would be to develop an in-house ‘centre of excellence’ team of skilled staff that can focus on digitising and integration.

“To make the most out of electronic management, a provider must be committed to change, with a fully equipped staff team who believe in it” – Paul Dennis-Andrews, Operations Manager (Encompass)

2. Involve Your Staff

The most successful organisations will be those that gain feedback direct from the care team. Listen to the everyday challenges your care team face. Evaluate and assess how these challenges can be tackled and overcome before you start the move to digital.

“Ensure the staff that will be using the system are also involved in the decision-making and transition. These are the people who will directly use the system and will raise queries or concerns. It has to be inclusive or it just doesn’t work properly” – Simon Francis, IT Project Manager (Silverline)

3. Get Your Paperwork in Order

The transition to digital can be a lengthy process, but it is also an excellent opportunity to review your paperwork templates and quality of care plans. To allow for a smooth transition, it is crucial that you have your current records in order.

Ensure that before making the transition to digital, your paper records are in good order. This will make the transition a lot smoother and a lot less stressful for your staff. If you are trying to get your paperwork in order at the same time as transition, you will create extra work for your team. You should also identify any differences between your paperwork and how that translates onto a system. If you can make that as close as possible, the transition will be streamlined and much easier for staff” – Simon Francis, IT Project Manager (Silverline)

4. Choose the Right System

The best digital care management system needs to be flexible and enhance your care team. It will support the great work your teams are currently doing, rather than forcing them to work in a different way, and it will offer more than simply a digital representation of your current records. Do your research, understand what it is you want from a system, and find a system that matches your needs.

“I work with a system that is responsive, adaptable, instant, consistent, person-centred and surprisingly cost efficient” – Paul Dennis-Andrews, Operations Manager (Encompass)

“We have been able to work directly with our system providers to give feedback and make direct changes; we very much feel like stakeholders in the system” – Simon Francis, IT Project Manager (Silverline)

5. Commit to the Digital Transformation

Finally, if you’re going to transition to digital care management, you need to commit fully. Having some records digital and other paper causes confusion and extra work for staff members. It also undermines all of the benefits of full integration.

“It’s about having all your information in one place, which you simply can’t do on paper. If you’re going to use an electronic system, maximise it to its full potential and move everything over; certificates, audits, training. I have been able to stop writing my endless to-do lists because my system does that for me” – Megan Read

Have you embraced digital transformation? What did your experience teach you and what top tips would you share?

To find out more about how we can support you to make the most of Digital Transformation, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 023 80 002288.

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 caring@nourishcare.co.uk or call 02380 00 22 88

How much could you save with a care management system?

This post is by Mabel Lazzarin a User Experience (UX) designer from Nourish who focuses on developing the technology we use for use in social care and home care settings. It was originally posted on Medium and we thought it would be good to share it with you here, as she is helping to shape the way that we evolve our design system for home care.


Challenges and investigations

The world is getting older. The number of older people is growing faster than in any other age group. A combination of low birth rates and longer life expectation is driving the ageing process. This scenario forecasts reduced labour forces, lower investment rates, while expenditure in health tends to increase strongly.

Changes in our society also may raise the pressure on hospital admissions and primary care. Whilst in the past it was part of a cultural tradition that older people rely on family and friends to help out with everyday needs, from shopping and help around the house to a conversation. In an urban or nomadic context, these networks may be less reliable. So attention has turned to how support of this kind can be better provided, sometimes by paid professionals, sometimes by volunteers and sometimes through time banks and exchanges. How might we create better experiences to engage a networking of care?

“People helping themselves, one another and health services represents a set of new social movements for health: changing the basics of how the health system approaches the prevention and management of health, in particular long–term conditions.” The NHS in 2030, Nesta

How could digital technology help?

Emerging technologies are transforming the way people engage with their own health. Patients and carers are increasingly using mobile technology to research information online, share experiences, identify treatment options, rate providers and help to anticipate diagnoses.

Most of these solutions are focused on a younger population. Small buttons, fiddly controls,and unnecessarily complicated interfaces can all be barriers to older users. Certain fears regarding technology due to expenditure of a large amount of money with a low benefit return, breaking the equipment or doing something wrong, could also generate anxiety and frustration for the elderly audience.

The lack of solutions designed especially for elderly people reveals a potential unexplored field to investigate. How digital technologies can bring scale to innovative projects that help older people overcome the constraints of location, mobility or lack of memory. How design could adopt a more holistic approach and explore a flexible ecosystem, integrating technology with elements that are already part of these people’s routine.

Mind map of existing solutions vs basic human needs

Map of existing solutions x basic human needs

Some examples of companies working to build the confidence of older people and their carers in using digital tools to improve their quality of life:

Celebration of life

Nesta recently launched Dementia Citizens, a platform that brings together researchers and those affected by dementia to help find ways to improve care. They started with two new apps:

The idea is to gather information submitted through the apps and from questions and feedback sent to the users.

Tech facilitation

Breezie created a senior-friendly tablet solution in partnership with Samsung. Designed to promote practical and social well-being in ageing populations. With simplified versions of everyday services such as email, games, music or video calls.

The digital inclusion could mitigate the feelings of social isolation and the loneliness, which contribute to better long-term mental and physical health.

Artificial intelligence and prospective memory

Nightingale is a speculative healthcare service created by Method. They have been experimenting with Artificial Intelligence, connected devices (IOT), as well as exploring the value of data as a raw material for design. The result is a software platform to help improve the persistent challenges associated with treatment adherence.

Connected objects

The use of technology to monitor changes in patients’ health status outside of conventional clinical settings has increased the potential for remote monitoring through IoT, apps and wearables. However on another hand, there is a big discussion about the balance between data analysis and privacy. What is the minimum information needed to provide a better assistance?

An interesting case of a non-intrusive solution is Howz. It is a mix of inputs from patient’s network of care and data collected from low-cost sensors. It tracks daily patterns on electrical, lights, heat and movement activities, and send alerts to the family when it spots anomalies. By tracking the use of everyday objects and points of contact it is possible to help a frail elderly, their personal networks, families, hospitals, social and other services stay connected through their daily routine.

Biosensors

Recent advances in the development of bio-sensing wearables are extending their capability to move beyond simply tracking activity. New products are able to monitor continuously a broad range of physiology (from posture to brain activity) and convert this information into outputs, through advanced connectivity and computing power.

GSK and Verily are examples of investors in bioelectronic medicine, a relatively new scientific field that aims to tackle a wide range of chronic diseases using miniaturised, implantable devices that can modify electrical signals that pass along nerves in the body, including irregular or altered impulses that occur in many illnesses. This new technology could impact the treatment of certain chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma.

Support to carers

The circle of care could be integrated by family, friends, volunteers, local community, professional carers. This process could significantly change relationships, putting both caregiver and loved ones in new contexts. Chronic or long-term conditions among care recipients seem to be particularly likely to cause emotional stress for caregivers.

It is a challenge to  balance a personal life and a person’s needs. Some companies are working to offer better information and advice from those who have faced the same situation. Unforgettable, for example, offers support to people with dementia and memory loss. New ways of connecting to professional carers, as Honor or HomeTouch can create new scenarios of mixing care support, alleviating the responsibility of a unique caregiver.

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Honour

What is next?

More than technology and existent solutions, it is important to go deeper about the home care routine, expectations, decision points, challenges, fears, motivations and achievements from different perspectives. At Nourish we are exploring new ideas for a better home care assistance through research: listening, observing, investigating people’s story and real needs.
If you want to be part of this journey. We would love to hear from you!