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Leading The Way

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How Far We’ve Come

 The past two years have seen massive leaps forward in adoption of digital technology in Adult Social Care. Much of this has been in response to immediate pressures and restrictions put upon our workforce and as we move into a period of strategically planning for the new normal we must gather our thoughts, and should use this opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in such a short length of time.

In 2019 as part of the Skills for Care Workforce Development Innovation Fund (WDIF) a programme of training for Digital Leaders was created and delivered by The National Care Forum. Two groups of Registered Managers from both residential and home care organisations attended a 4 module in person delivery of the programme which aimed to equip them to critically appraise their individual and organisational readiness for the adoption of digital technology. The sessions looked at how Managers could recognise opportunities and challenges around the adoption of digital technology.

Flash forward just a few short months from the end of the training and every Registered Manager in Adult Social Care was in a situation where they there thrust into becoming not just Digital Leaders, but also competent jugglers.

Regulatory and Commissioning bodies suddenly required mandatory reporting through tools such as Capacity Tracker on a daily basis. Care providers were forced to utilise technology to communicate with other professionals such as community healthcare providers, GPs and Social Workers. What was a medium priority strategic vision in the minds of the majority suddenly became an immediate necessity for all.

Time To Breathe?

 We’re now in a situation where hopefully we are able to, if not relax, then pause for breath. Whilst pressures remain high we certainly continue to struggle to take the time out to really strategize, but we are at least hopefully able to consider options and take proactive steps to embed the rapid learning into our processes and procedures.

It’s so important that as a sector we make the most of what has undeniably been a bad situation, and recognise just how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. Now is the ideal time to use the momentum to really empower your workforce to keep up the accelerated adoption and not slip back.

The recently published NHSX Adult Social Care Technology and Digital Skills Review offers a comprehensive analysis of the current skills in the sector and NHS Transformation Directorate (formerly NHSX) have commissioned alongside Skills for Care two pilot projects to provide training to Registered Managers – a revamped Digital Leaders Course; and frontline Care Workers – a Digital Champions Course. Both of these programmes have recently concluded and early feedback has been positive, but there is so much more that you, as care providers can do to continue the journey towards improving your digital skills.

Work with your suppliers

 If you already use digital tools and technology in your setting then access the training on offer from your existing suppliers. Sekoia, a digital care planning solution used across 4 countries work closely with their customers to ensure maximum benefit is gained from their comprehensive training, they promote the use of super users within organisations to be the internal experts in the software. This mirrors the Digital Champions approach to have team members empowered to be the people within your organisation who really lead the way with adopting technology. Sekoia proudly demonstrate that their solution can save staff members 90 minutes each per shift. With the time saved it enables your staff to spend more time delivering great quality care to the people they support.

Person Centred Software – a market leading digital social care records supplier listed on the NHS Transformation Directorate Assured Supplier List offer resources to their customers to support them to complete the Data Security Protection Toolkit. They also offer tools and guides through their website that can really aide care providers to offer that extra level of truly person centred care. These ‘added’ extras offer real opportunities for care providers to push the barriers with digital technology. Integrations such as GP Connect which enables providers to access real time information from GP patient records; eRedBag which facilitates the electronic transfer of paperwork for care home residents requiring hospital care; and National Record Locator Service which supports the validation of an individuals NHS number are key to the future vision of an integrated health and care system.

Understand future focus.

 NHS Transformation Directorate’s focus on delivering evidence backed solutions into social care settings. Currently an evidence base exists for technology such as Acoustic Monitoring which is demonstrated as improving outcomes for residents in care homes. Falls in care homes are estimated to cost the NHS over £2 billion a year. A number of projects are currently being undertaken to look at testing a range of falls prevention technologies in different settings. Innovative solutions such as those offered by Motitech who produce adapted indoor seated bikes alongside videos and sounds to really make the user feel as though they are undertaking a journey around familiar surroundings are documented to improve mobility, strength and balance as well as being of benefit to mental wellbeing. Solutions like Motitech are really pushing the future of falls based technology in being evidence backed to reduce falls, used in conjunction with falls detection solutions they could absolutely be the future for improving outcomes as well as contributing to vast financial cost savings to the sector as a whole.

Where might the next 2 years take us?

 With so much changing over the past 2 years, where might we find ourselves in another 2? It’s difficult to predict what the future might hold for care providers as we enter into a world of increased integration. A national target of 80% of care providers using digital social care records that can integrate with a local shared care record by 2024 may seem ambitious, but with so many truly excellent solutions available to enable you to provide brilliant care, and support your involvement with the integration agenda care providers are uniquely placed to be at the very forefront. Digital social care records that already integrate with other technologies are becoming more widely available. The Assured Supplier List supports providers to make educated decisions, and suppliers themselves are promoting excellent practice with adoption of standards such as joining the Professional Records Standards Body Quality Partner Scheme.

Solutions like ATLAS eMAR by invatech has recently undertaken the rigorous NHS Approved Supplier process which included reaching the DCB0129 standard for Clinical Safety. In order to be able to use the Proxy Medication Ordering process they had to submit documentation to demonstrate their adherence to this robust standard. Adoption of standards like this really demonstrates to care providers that their suppliers are forward thinking and leading the way in supporting them to deliver safe, quality care, but in addition to this, it also demonstrates to the wider healthcare system that care providers themselves deserve their place at the very heart of an integrated system.

 

 

 

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