Electronic care planning software, sometimes also called digital (social) care records, is increasingly being adopted by social care providers. For some care providers this is a natural step, whereas for many others the decision-making process can be fraught with challenges.
What are the benefits of electronic care planning software?
It’s important not to adopt technology just for technology’s sake. At Digital Social Care, we always advise people to consider the outcomes that they hope to achieve and then to see if that’s something that technology can help with. In this we echo the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) guidance, “What good looks like for digital records in adult social care”. In the case of electronic care records, there are numerous benefits which can be achieved by using this sort of software.
The most commonly cited benefit by care providers is that electronic care records can be more efficient. This is because:
- they allow access to “real time” data about the people receiving care and support which can allow providers to be alerted more quickly to a change in someone’s needs;
- many systems allow the use of pictures, emoticons, or voice to text software which can make it easier to make care notes at the point of care rather than having to write up plans after the fact;
- information can be shared quickly, safely and efficiently with a range of health and care professionals as appropriate.
Digital care records can also support staff by providing alerts about upcoming tasks and can minimise risks associated with medication errors, dehydration or missed visits.
However, when adopting any kind of technology in social care, it’s important to ensure that the decision-making process is truly person-centred and that it can improve the lives of the people we support. For many people, electronic care records can make it easier for them to access and proactively input into their own care plans. For their friends and families, particularly those who live remotely and the many who haven’t been able to visit due to the pandemic, family portals built into the software allow the family to be updated on the activities their loved one is taking part in or how they are feeling on a given day.
How to choose?
There are lots of different software systems on the market and it can seem difficult to choose between them. Indeed, some care providers decide to develop their own software to meet their needs.
There are some basic steps that we recommend organisations follow:
- Pick a small team to agree what the most important outcomes are for your organisation and people.
- That team should do their research. Talk to other care providers who are already using care planning software. We share success stories of how care providers are using different systems and the National Care Forum’s Hubble Project has videos and templates on how to approach the process.
- Once you have a shortlist, involve a wider group in testing and decision making. It’s really important that you involve the people you support, their loved ones and your staff in decision making as they’re the people who will be using the system every day.
- Consider how you will implement the software. Do you need to purchase additional equipment? What does your implementation plan look like? Do you have staff who can act as champions? What ongoing support will the supplier offer?
Further support and guidance
There is more support available for anyone considering adopting digital care records. The Care Software Provider Association (CASPA) has produced a best practice guide, NHSX have announced that they will be launching a support programme and you can always contact Digital Social Care for advice.