After dealing with the perfect storm which was the Coronavirus pandemic hitting care homes across the globe, we saw a step change in how the sector regards digital transformation. During this time, care teams faced a series of difficult decisions which only seemed to have unfavourable options. Do we stop family visits? Do we implement isolation policies? Do we buy testing kits even though we’re not sure how reliable they really are?
Care homes took on new patients to help ease the burden on the NHS, despite already being at capacity, and the hard work, difficult decisions, and risks that care teams have taken this year are nothing short of heroic. It felt like the odds were truly stacked against them, as person-centered care suffered due to the fact the main priority became simply keeping everyone healthy.
Better communication and coordination of care through digital transformation
Managing in such scenarios brought home how important good communication and coordination of care is. The value of having access to information, without the burden of reporting became immense. And care homes who had already embarked on digital transformation were able to get a much better situational awareness when managing their teams over the last few months.
Digital information is actionable – teams can use digital to coordinate with each other and with others in the community, such as GPs, all while keeping auditing teams aware of the support each person is receiving, with clear context.
While some providers are still resistant to change, they are now coming to realise that paper records don’t help them manage change or achieve the agility needed to respond to a pandemic. We’ve already begun to see a huge shift in the way care services work, and views on digital are changing, as those considering the benefits of digital are now in the majority.
As we begin to reflect on the last few months, care services from around the globe have shared stories of how they successfully managed virus outbreaks in their homes. These largely consist of a proactive approach to closely monitoring symptoms, and the symptoms of suspected cases of Covid-19, accessing frequent testing, implementing robust barrier measures, and doing everything possible to stop the infection from spreading.
A digital way of working provides the ability to analyse data quickly and to coordinate teams by sharing current status of infection, which can ultimately put a team ahead of the game in order to predict and prepare for how the situation progresses.
A digital system will also support effective contact tracing, which in turn allows you to model staff absences, know when and where to implement stricter isolation policies, and clearly see who is most at risk amongst those in your care, so you can do everything you can to protect those you support.
In light of this, and with the prospect of potentially being hit by a second wave, those who were reluctant to make the switch before are now having a change of heart. Care in a post-Covid world is likely to see a huge digital transformation, which sounds daunting, but could really be the silver lining that makes the health and social care sector more efficient, agile and better prepared to support each person in a way that is truly centred on the person and not shaped by “systems”.
Digital transformation is a journey
Getting the most out of a digital transformation requires the mindset of being on a journey – it’s not just about buying a product. We usually summarise it as a three-stage process, which will gradually increase your maturity and unleash new benefits as digital becomes more embedded.
Stage 1: review what you record, consider why you record it. At Nourish we are able to accelerate this process if you want to accept our libraries of documentation shaped by best practice stemming from hundreds of providers, but you can adjust it to what is right for you.
Stage 2: You start by bringing your care teams on board – user experience is really important, as well as the experience you are offered by the supplier. At Nourish we help our clients with adoption of the new system by ensuring each person in their care team is trained. We give them all the assets necessary to ensure everyone who needs to be informed is engaged on the journey. As an immediate result, care workers see a reduction in the time spent writing down notes, better awareness of the status of each person they’re supporting, and a sense of empowerment.
Stage 3: As information is recorded digitally, data quality improves dramatically, and this opens the opportunity to explore how analytics can help provide better tools to run a care provider. Insights extracted from care data can support improvement in all areas, clearly on quality of care, but also in audit processes, operations and financial sustainability;
The ability to analyse data is a huge benefit in a care setting beyond the battle against Covid-19. In a day-to-day setting, data and analytics allows care teams to record and monitor data, and spot trends in those they support. This level of insight greatly increases the quality of care that is provided to individuals.
During the Covid-19 outbreak we continued to support care providers with remote training, support and rolling out our services, in the same way we did before, but now using video conference, which has proven to be very effective.
Digital will also mean that Social Care will be able to share information with the NHS where applicable. In sharing patient data with the relevant healthcare professionals at the click of a button, teams are far more equipped to provide the safest form of care at all times, which in some cases could be the difference someone having to be admitted into hospital or being cared for safely where they are, and in extreme cases may mean the difference between life and death.
Ultimately, going digital has the potential to introduce a much-needed flow of knowledge, inclusivity and empowerment between care teams, healthcare professionals and most importantly, those being supported and their families. Clear evidencing of care, following best practice, and establishing how to improve through insight from care data will undoubtedly shape the future of health and social care. In doing so, it can put care services one step ahead in providing the best possible care for all, not just in the event of a pandemic, but for the future of care indefinitely.
For more information on Nourish and how it can help your care service, book a demo today!