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.