Digital transition offers once-in-a-generation opportunity

Gavin Bashar, UK Managing Director of Tunstall Healthcare
Gavin Bashar, UK managing director of Tunstall Healthcare

Gavin Bashar, UK managing director at Tunstall Healthcare discusses the technology available to support the mental health of staff, how advances in technology can support greater care efficiency and reduce pressures, and the crucial role of raising awareness of the benefits of technology

It has been estimated that as many as 1.7 million more people will require adult social care services over the next 15 years which will place significant pressures on the people that work within these services.

Technology innovations

Tech innovations present various benefits for the delivery and execution of health and care services. As people live longer, more pressure is placed on our care workers and the systems they work within. It is vital to support the wellbeing of carers to ensure successful care systems exist in the future. The urgent need to invest in preventative services and early interventions to reduce pressures on social care workers is being increasingly recognised across the care system.

Digital innovation offers the ability to build partnerships, maximise the use of data, drive cultural change, and support care staff in how they work with people to access care and support. The next generation of digital solutions also creates an opportunity to broaden the circle of care to engage families, friends, and communities and support early, proactive, and preventative interventions.

The modernisation of social care through technology is essential to make sure care providers are prepared to deal with the increasing pressures being placed on them as our ageing population grows. The effective use of technology can improve mental wellbeing of staff through increased care efficiencies, better communication, and greater integration with other service providers such as GPs and housing associations. A sustainable future for the long-term fund of social care must be a priority if we are to realise a positive vision which puts the wellbeing of both end users and care staff at the heart of delivery.

The benefits of technology

There are multiple types of technology and innovations that can be utilised to support the mental wellbeing of staff in social care settings. Whether it’s the use of virtual care platforms, remote monitoring solutions, communication tools, digital apps or sophisticated data platforms, services are entering a new phase of digital maturity.

Digital solutions offer a variety of benefits that can offer support to care workers including enabling more targeted and efficient care, stronger communication and the knowledge that they will be alerted when they are needed. As well as improving the quality of life for end users and citizens, it can also play a role in supporting the mental health of staff through reduced time constraints, more time to build relationships with the people they care for and reassurance through 24/7 monitoring of end users.

Park View Nursing Home in Halifax is a 41-bed care home offering comprehensive and individualised 24-hour care. Park View had an 18-year-old nurse call system that was coming to the end of its life. This was replaced by Tunstall Carecom to provide a cost-effective, advanced and integrated nurse call and telecare system.

Since its installation, the new system has increased morale and staff feel happier at work due to the reduced noise, ease of communication and more efficient working practices. The system has also been configured to ensure workload is spread more evenly among the staff to reduce pressures on individuals where possible.

Jason Sharpe, operations manager at Park View, said: “The new system has made such a massive difference to everyone’s lives – residents, staff and relatives. Residents feel much safer knowing how quickly they can get help at the touch of a button. It’s enabled us to improve the way we deliver care in ways no traditional system ever could.”

Education

Technology must be embedded into professional care delivery for staff to reap the benefits to their mental and physical health and wellbeing. Cementing a cultural shift towards technology-driven, outcomes-led approaches is required. In turn this needs early engagement from carers and an understanding that technology is designed to provide support, rather than to replace. We must lead from the top to ensure stakeholders have input at an early stage.

Root and branch change is required but getting there is challenging. Creating a world where it is standard practice to use technology as part of care delivery will help to deliver more efficient and personalised care and provide peace of mind to social care workers that the people they care for are protected. Developing an understanding of how telecare can help to manage risks will promote independence, choice and control.

With the right education staff should reap a number of benefits including becoming more aware of the features and benefits of telecare devices, developing confidence in assessing and referring end users to the right solutions, and understanding the positive impact of telecare on working practices.

By educating care providers on the benefits of technology we can support and develop the people who will help to create a better future for us all. By bringing together a range of initiatives we can raise awareness of the value and potential of technology across the social care landscape, and increase the benefits to users, carers, professionals and providers.

The next steps

With the impending changes to our telecoms network, digital is fast becoming the industry standard to ensure the safety of social care services, staff and end users. Global patient monitoring is predicted to see twice as many users by 2024 and it is now estimated there are more than 1.7 million users of community alarms and telecare systems in the UK. 

Digital solutions offer significant benefits over traditional options for both end users and social care workers. The transition will provide a more robust infrastructure, replace an ageing system and make it theoretically more reliable, develop faster service provision, greater capacity to meet demand, and more efficient status alerts.

The digital transition will offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our services to modernise to a proactive delivery model. The transition from analogue to digital systems will significantly support the mental health of social care staff and the wellbeing of the people they care for. Digitalisation will offer a more robust and reliable system for care providers to deliver faster, more informed care, which in turn reduces the pressures they experience.

Date Published: June 9, 2022