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Technology in care: A worry or an expectation?

 

It’s no secret that recruitment and retention is without a doubt a major issue currently facing Adult Social Care. There are many reasons why care homes are struggling to retain staff, arguably due to increasing demands with limited resources, combined with paperwork overload. According to a survey from the National Care Forum ‘more than 40% of care home staff leave their positions within a year of starting them’. This alarming figure highlights the pressure the industry faces; no doubt exacerbating the other day stresses.

Along with CQC’s updated KLOEs, which outline the use of technology for the benefit of residents, a recent discussion in the Caring Times emphasised the importance of developing innovative ways to engage staff and to draw a younger demographic into the sector. Carole Edmond notes that ‘Providers need to be willing to adopt new technology and use computer tablets and the like, because staff who are increasingly familiar with this technology will soon come to expect it’. While the transfer to technology might be seen as an unknown process to many working in care, it can’t be ignored that the use of technology is an expectation of modern life. Embracing it could draw a younger generation into the sector. But there is no reason it can’t simultaneously be implemented to improve working practices and ultimately the lives of residents. Younger individuals who previously spent their school days working from iPads and Laptops will be overwhelmed by the endless (almost mindless) repetitive reliance on pen and paperwork within a home. Failing to move with the times and create intelligent uses of technology is likely to be greatly influencing the decision of 40% of staff to leave their position.

It is not just millennials though who are proving comfortable with technology; the Office for National Statistics demonstrates 78% of 65-74-year olds used the internet recently when asked. We are beginning to see more and more residents entering care homes expecting and wanting to Skype family members or use their mobiles. Should we be concerned about our staff abilities of using technology when it is likely that our residents are internet users themselves? What happens when ‘Generation Netflix’ start needing care homes?

 

Office for National Statistics 2017

Furthermore, One Stop Social recently highlighted that only 16% of care workers are male. Given that only 7.8% of men have never used the internet, could technology also be the key to changing perceptions and increasing recruitment into the sector?

The men are not alone though in their experience of the internet, recent internet use among women over 75 has trebled since 2011, while overall use for the over 75’s has doubled (37% of whom are on Facebook!). Undoubtedly, these 37% of active Facebook users will lose the ability to socialise with family and friends on the platform should their new care home lack internet access.

‘Going digital’ can feel like a huge headache for care providers, when really Internet and technology usage is an easily transferable skill between platforms. Do you shop online? Then you can probably understand different interfaces. Do you have apps on your smartphone? Then you’ll most likely understand how to interact with a tablet. Often efficient implementation and adoption comes down to making sure you make the time to take away the panic or fear of the new technology being introduced. When considering becoming a digital care provider, the transition for staff may be much easier than you think. In fact, many may be wondering why you haven’t already!

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Communication in Care

There have been a few thought pieces recently looking into communication in the care sector. There was one in particular that caught my eye from Bhavna Keane-Rao in the Caring Times on the importance of effective communication within the staff team. Within it she highlighted qualitive information such as staff observation “gives a much more rounded picture of a resident’s current condition”. Of course, as many of us know, staff handovers are often rushed and lacking this context from staff, leading to inconsistent and poorly-informed communications. Our experience in Residential Care Homes found these very same age old problems, issues that we wanted to address within MiCarePlan’s functionalities. Read more