Anthony Mitchell, Operations and IT Director at Park Lane Healthcare, believes data-driven care through technology is crucial for care homes, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
He says, “Person Centred Software has supported Park Lane Healthcare tremendously during the Covid-19 pandemic. My fellow directors and I have found great comfort in having 99% of information about what is going on in our care homes to hand with Mobile Care Monitoring, without increasing the theoretical risk of bringing the virus into the homes with site visits.”
Data-driven care decisions
“It’s always better to visit the home and see people face-to-face and build on existing relationships with staff, relatives and residents. But, in the absence of that, it’s been a crucial advantage to be able to see handovers, observe reports and charts relating to resident care, weights, food and fluid, falls and accidents.
“We felt comforted knowing that we can look at the information whenever we want.”
“Person Centred Software’s system has taken away the horrid prospect of a lack of control we’d have with paper. It’s been an absolute godsend.
“We felt comforted knowing that we can look at the information whenever we want. I would joke before all this about being upstairs putting my daughter to bed, whilst looking at bowel charts on my phone. It’s been such a great tool to have because there’s nothing you can’t see or check up on, which is so important now.
“We have been lucky with residents not getting coronavirus in any of our homes. Most of that luck has been hard-fought by locking down a good week or so before it happened nationally. Staff have been strict in their own households and have spent time apart from their kids and family members, whilst the country went through the worst of the virus.
“As a Board, using Mobile Care Monitoring remotely, we take decisions almost hourly for the good of the company and how we look after our residents and of course, our staff. Without them and all other key workers, we would be in dire straits.”
Quick and effective updates for families
Without Mobile Care Monitoring, Anthony believes he wouldn’t have been able to respond as quickly and efficiently to a query from a relative. “She sent in a query on a Sunday to say she loved our photos on Facebook, but thought her Mum looked a bit thinner than she had remembered her.
“I promise any home still on paper you will never look back if you implement Mobile Care Monitoring.”
“I logged on to the system, looked at the lady’s care plans, assessments and weight chart. I could see that she’d been losing a bit of weight, and going from the Overweight BMI category to Normal. The manager had put a note in the previous month’s care plan evaluation saying if there was a further loss, depending on the needs of the residents, she would refer that person to the dietitian. I checked that the lady who had contacted us had Power of Attorney for her Mum, and then sent her the summary.
“She was blown away by how fast we were able to respond, despite not being on the premises and at the weekend. She thanked us for how much the information and reassurance had set her mind at rest. She sent chocolates to the home for the staff and residents as a thank you!”
Decision to go digital
Anthony explains that Park Lane Healthcare chose to move from paper-based practices due to the increasingly complexity of documentation for CQC. “Our historical paper-based systems were robust. We were consistently getting good ratings from CQC since beginning to operate in 2006.
“However, social care has got more complex. Care plans used to be one page for everything for someone who had been a resident for six years. Now, everything must be documented. If it isn’t written down, it hasn’t happened. So, there’s a lot more overhead to make sure things are up to date.
“We trialled the system at one home first to see if it was what we were looking for, and it very much was.”
“It’s harder to document that you are checking things if it’s on a paper-based system. Documents also get lost or become damaged, fall out of folders, those folders can go missing or someone pours a cup of coffee over it by accident. It also relies on being on site to view them.”
Anthony says that digitising paper records does not achieve data-driven care. “Another option is to digitise paper records, which presents storage and GDPR issues, not to mention that the information would never be live and actionable at that time.
“On paper, care plans were only reviewed on site, as they were too bulky to digitise each month. With Mobile Care Monitoring, reviews and updates can be made instantly with ease.”
Installing Mobile Care Monitoring and supporting staff
Park Lane Healthcare trialled Person Centred Software’s digital care planning system, Mobile Care Monitoring in 2018. “We have seven care homes in the north of England,” says Anthony. “We trialled the system at one home first to see if it was what we were looking for, and it very much was.
“At the first home we installed, one member of staff didn’t even have a smartphone but she took to it like a duck to water.”
“Throughout 2019, we spent time installing it in the other homes and supporting our 300 staff as it’s a bit of a change. Lockdown has delayed installing it in the last care home on the list, but the system has been a big success so far.
“At the first home we installed, one member of staff didn’t even have a smartphone, she was scared to death to do something wrong, or that it was going to explode! But she took to it like a duck to water. Within a couple of months, when we viewed staff supervision reports on who had logged what and how often, she was near the top of the list.”
Giving oversight to data-driven care
Anthony explains how data-driven care has transformed Park Lane Healthcare. “Mobile Care Monitoring has given the senior management team oversight of what’s going on in the homes, without bothering managers for information. With its Group Reporting, users can look at almost every aspect of care delivered, and look for patterns, trends, and issues.
“Care homes of the future must have technology at the heart of its infrastructure, with access to Wi-Fi in every room by default.”
“Person Centred Software gives care homes access to export information. Due to my IT background, I’ve written some programs that takes hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly information. It links with a well-known Microsoft program, Power BI, to present graphical information.
“Data helps us examine KPIs and measure information. For instance, I can compare homes’ fluid levels and discover reasons why one is doing better than another. I can decide what to focus on, hitting safe and well-led areas for CQC.
“Making sure Covid-19 doesn’t come into our homes sometimes means unavoidably taking our eye off the ball in other areas. Using our data in this way is an extra layer of checking and redundancy to make sure we don’t miss anything. It helps to support each other and makes our managers’ lives easier.”
Technology for care homes of the future
“Care homes of the future must have technology at the heart of its infrastructure, with access to Wi-Fi in every room by default. We are glad that we had already upgraded our Wi-Fi network to use PCS before the pandemic in all but one home.
“Until there is a vaccine, or the virus is effectively dead, I think lockdown procedures will continue to be in place, to some degree or other, for the foreseeable future.
“Person Centred Software is worth the money we spend on it. It’s not cheap, but a good system shouldn’t be cheap.”
“IT infrastructure is key to changing working practices. When Covid-19 came along, staff have been able to take tablets devices up to residents’ rooms and give families access to their loved ones. Nothing compares to having a face to face chat, even if it’s a virtual one.
“Covid-19 will continue to have a very large impact on every aspect of residential and nursing care. It has emphasised the need for technology. GP consultations and social services reviews have all had to rely more on technology.
“Technology facilitates better sharing of information between providers, councils and hospitals and other secondary care services. Care homes in the future are going to need to have Wi-Fi and other technology in place for when visits aren’t possible.”
Recommendation for care homes using paper
Anthony concludes, “I promise any home still on paper you will never look back if you implement Mobile Care Monitoring. The benefits of data-driven care that a digital recording and monitoring system bring far outweighs concerns over technology reliance or staff phobia.
“I find it hard to believe that 70% of care homes are still using paper. We’re not a large corporate and we can afford the system. Person Centred Software is worth the money we spend on it. It’s not cheap, but a good system shouldn’t be cheap.”