The care sector has historically trailed behind other industries when it comes to the adoption of digital systems. NHSX have stated that only 30% of social care providers have started implementing digital tools, with another 30% relying solely on paper-based processes.
People are showing a growing desire to stay in their own home when it comes to receiving social care, as it gives them more freedom and independence. It’s understandable that the domiciliary sector can get a greater focus when it comes to enhancing health and social care, however residential services can’t be ignored.
The Government’s ‘Build Back Better’ paper published in March 2022 outlines the plans to reform health and social care. The report mentions the capping of social care costs but goes on further to discuss the need to focus on health and care integration, so that service users receive well-coordinated care.
The report states that health and care organisations will work together “…creating the right local incentives for integration and prevention, as well as working with the NHS, social care providers and other partners to ensure that they are working to deliver more effective care in people’s own homes and their communities, breaking down the barriers between services."
Successfully integrating the various care services helps create an environment that puts service users at the heart of their journey. Supporting people before their conditions worsen is clearly a strong push in the direction of becoming a stronger and healthier population. However, for some people, dependence on residential care is necessary.
Some of the most vulnerable people in the care system need round the clock support for complex needs, living in care homes where they can be monitored and looked after 24/7. Therefore, having effective communication processes with other healthcare providers is important for maintaining a holistic approach to care, supporting residents’ overall health and wellbeing.
This article will look into how technology can enhance residential care, an underrepresented area of the adult social care sector.
So how are care sector stakeholders fairing when it comes to embracing technology?
Care homes can implement technology, to support their employees and residents alike. According to NHSX, care homes were most likely to have increased their use of technology since the pandemic than any other sector of adult social care.
During the pandemic, the Government announced plans to provide 11,000 iPads to care homes across England to improve the level of digital communication between families and residents and to allow service users to attend medical appointments remotely.
Although navigating the Covid restrictions was extremely difficult for care professionals, families and their relatives, examples like this are a sign of how technology will be increasingly adopted in residential care settings to enhance communications for staff, service users and other stakeholders.
Digital tools also have the benefit of storing and updating service user care plans with their preferences and individual choices. It empowers residents and their families to have greater control over how care is delivered.
NHSX’s research found that care home providers believed that technology that supports and monitors service users was a benefit, as they could track a person’s care, identifying any risks or early warning signs.
Tablets give care workers system access to review residents’ digital care plans at the point of care. Staff were also able to use technology for video consultations with other medical professionals, working together to ensure the continuity of residents’ care during such a difficult and demanding time.
Digital tools also give care workers the opportunity to provide up-to-date hand overs to other members of staff when their shifts have ended. It reduces the need to manually write notes and share physical documentation, as the central system automatically synchronises with any changes made on external devices, such as tablets or mobile phones.
Many managers have adopted technology in the last two years to conduct online interviews and induction processes for new staff as well as attend meetings online, reducing needless travel time and expense.
Digital systems also help with recording and monitoring compliance within the residence. Functionalities such as overseeing training, managing finances and monitoring safeguarding are all ways an online system is designed to enhance the day-to-day care processes.
From their research, NHSX also found that managers rated themselves 8.16 out of 10 when it came to their confidence level around managing records and accounts when using a care management solution than when they used spreadsheets to track data.
Looking to the future
£25 million will be made available in 2022 to 2023 to scale up the investment and implementation of digital social care technology across England with integrated care systems, including adopting digital social care records for the “rapid digitisation of social care”. This has been put in place to push towards the aim for 80% of social care organisations to have digital records by March 2024.
According to the People at the Heart of Care report, the number of adults aged 85 and over is estimated to rise for 2.4 million by 2040. With this projected increase of around 77%, transitioning to a digital system to enhance efficiency and improve communication, a step in the direction towards stronger residential care.
The report published by NHSX also stated that 23% of care home staff only have access to the internet ‘some of the time’. However, in the same research it was shown that 90% of care providers said that they would continue to use the digital systems that were put in place during the pandemic.
We recognise that technology needs to enhance interactions, rather than restrict the ability to give personal, compassionate care.
We believe that the future for digital solutions is total visibility, bringing an entirely holistic approach to care, benefiting all users of the system regardless of internet access or not.
A solution that gives service users and their families access to their own care information. All health professionals supporting them will also have access to their individual records, so everyone involved in their care journey has a full understanding of the service users’ needs and choices.
Technology that includes every aspect of the care process, from recruitment and staff training to rostering and annual leave management. From occupancy monitoring and care operations to finance, payroll and compliance recording.
With over 1.65 million jobs, the adult social care workforce is larger than the NHS. This number is estimated to grow by almost one third by 2035. Having a digital solution that includes recruitment and retention functionalities is the first step in achieving total visibility of the care process.
Find out more about our care business management solution for care providers, Advanced Care Cloud.