Published in The Journal of mHealth and Care Home Professional
By Amanda Rae, Quality and Compliance Manager at Canford Healthcare, a valued customer of Person Centred Software
The chances of a second consecutive winter period spent engulfed by the disruption and confusion of COVID-19 is looking increasingly likely.
With daily case figures recently exceeding 200,000 for the first time, we can only hope, if the worst is to be realised, that it will not be as detrimental to the health and social care sector as the initial outbreak almost two years ago, which, unfortunately, brought care environments to their knees, many of which are still in a precarious position as we prepare for more uncertain times ahead.
Throughout lockdown, video conferencing was one of the only routes care home residents had to the outside world. Being able to stay in touch with loved ones over such a long period of isolation has significantly enhanced the mental state of residents in social care environments, helping them stay connected and thereby combating loneliness.
For myself personally, when my Grandad was in one of our homes, the use of the Relatives Gateway really helped my family to feel reassured, while keeping us abreast of how he was doing through the sharing of a daily care summary, which was able to provide regular updates on his general mood.
In addition, we felt that through the Relatives Gateway, we were able to quickly establish whether the quality of care my Grandad was receiving was exactly what he needed. Moreover, it enabled us to directly communicate with the nurses and to see what his daily routine would look like – and whether he was having the care plan tailored specifically to his needs.
With unlimited access to the Relatives Gateway, families can receive up-to-date information at the touch of a button, offering valuable peace of mind. At Canford Healthcare, the implementation of the Relatives Gateway has provided much comfort to those living and working within our care homes. It has meant that, during the ongoing pandemic, residents have been able to stay in touch with their loved ones, positively impacting their mental wellbeing, and in turn, their physical wellbeing too.
The transparency of the Relatives Gateway tool has also allowed relatives to have direct access to their loved one’s care notes, which has been highly beneficial in providing peace of mind during a time where there are still certain restrictions on the ability to freely visit care environments.
On top of this, Person Centred Software have been incredibly responsive around coronavirus and the ongoing pandemic. Not only would their Digital Care System enable our nurses to determine which residents had COVID-19, as well as their vaccination status, but through the usage of risk assessments and daily checks, the information could then be made available to the families via the Relatives Gateway.
The system also includes a comprehensive shift handover process to communicate with care staff easily and track if that information has been received. And, thanks to its high degree of transparency, Relatives Gateway facilitates greater trust and healthier working relationships between families and the home as access can only be granted upon the residents’ approval.
Also, when a resident has been flagged with an infectious disease, an icon appears on their profile showing carers that additional precautions are required. This enables caregivers to plan responses and protect residents by seeing which staff they’ve had contact with, when symptoms were recorded, and trace staff that have worked together.
With that said, it’s clear to see the benefits of using digital technology within the care home, and care providers are understanding how its flexibility can be used to improve the management of care delivery in real-time, meaning medical notes and care records are always up to date.
Adopting an effective response to the pandemic has been crucial in alleviating stress for our staff, while also offering reassurance to relatives on the overall quality of care. I must say, real-time video communication and the utilisation of technology throughout the pandemic has been a lifesaver.
Therefore technology, often misperceived as too complex to integrate and operate in care environments, has proven to be the opposite, having been utilised as a tool for those working on the frontline in our homes to help them persevere in times of adversity – an impossible feat in a paper-based environment.
Today, care providers are under immense pressure as the UK still finds itself adjusting to the volatile changes of the coronavirus crisis. Furthermore, staff don’t have the luxury of extra time, with the build-up of workload having increased significantly recently, given the pressures of the pandemic.
These unprecedented and unsustainable pressures have, in effect, created an overwhelming level of stress for those tasked with maintaining the delivery of outstanding care for residents. Care providers like ourselves, then, must do all we can to ensure that staff have all the tools they require to reduce work burden without compromising the quality of care delivered. At Canford Healthcare, this is something we are proud to be achieving.
Overall, new, multifunctional technologies are continually entering the social care market with a focus on improving productivity and efficiency for staff, and in turn, the health and happiness of residents, which, ultimately, is to be applauded and encouraged.