Mark Kennion, director, HAS Technology, writes about how technology has been repurposed and developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and can help provide support during winter pressures.
Local authorities and NHS services are under huge pressure all year round, and never more so than in 2020. With a challenging winter approaching for the health and social care sector, we know care providers will be preparing now for the unique pressure of delivering care services whilst COVID-19 is co-circulating with seasonal flu and other viruses. Technology and intelligent data will play a vital tool in helping to support and deliver quality care services, mitigate risks and proactively target care where it is most needed.
Even before the pandemic, there was increased recognition of the importance of prevention and self-management. In a recent webinar, 95% of our attendees agreed that they would be facing greater winter pressures this year, than what they would normally be faced with.
The ability to keep people safe in their own homes will be essential, especially as we are in now in a second lockdown, with the potential of further regional lockdowns going forward.
There is also the need to protect people with long term health conditions and care needs, by supporting them at home/in care settings and avoiding hospital admissions, as well as the prospect of burnout in health and care staff.
This means that the reliance on technological solutions will increase and at a pace and scale we have not witnessed before. From the monitoring of mild cases at home, to the personalised care of patients post discharge from hospitals. We will need to see improved management of issues which are known to put pressure on services, such as falls.
During lockdown, many vulnerable people led largely sedentary lifestyles, and with the potential for this to continue, care professionals need to stay connected, identify risks and take appropriate, timely action from afar. Cardiff Council has been using our ARMED falls prevention technology as part of its telecare response service and are alerted to any potential risk trends. This is offering them with the potential to put additional support measures into place and reduce emergency care costs and hospital admissions.
Feedback from our users is showing that there is recognition that technology can identify where resources should be prioritised and that putting prevention into place now has a higher priority.
In addition to prevention, with the additional pressures facing providers and councils, there is going to be an even greater need to have access to accurate and local care sector data – quality market insight.
The ADASS Coronavirus response and the COVID-19 winter plan both highlighted the importance of monitoring market sustainability. Reliable market insight provided by our PAMMS solution is already enabling directors and commissioners to make informed decisions about local services. It helps identify provider risks early on, including providing longitudinal information about financial viability.
Remote working makes the vital task of provider assessment and contract management more challenging and the PAMMS solution has been transformed to enable providers to do self-assessments, as well as facilitate contract management – all from the desktop. The technology can allow Councils to stay connected with their regulated and unregulated care markets.
Since March, our PAMMS data collection and analysis has been used across London to provide councils with unprecedented intelligence on COVID challenges. This complements national sitreps data allowing them to quickly spot trends and respond to local issues.
For our customers who are managing in house and reablement services, technology has enabled them to stay connected, facilitate remote working and allow better use of capacity – all of which will be vital this winter. Having real-time information to report on both the big picture and individuals’ progress helps improve quality and efficiency and has proven invaluable during the pandemic.
The benefits of care management solutions to support care delivery are well known, but during COVID-19 we have seen just how vital our CM solutions have been for our customers to maintain their services. Having information available digitally, and accessible to multiple team members working in different locations, makes working remotely easier for those responsible for organising care.
This software can be deployed remotely and has already proven to support our customers during the past eight months of the pandemic. During the first wave, Blackburn with Darwen Council were able to deploy our CM technology remotely.
The council’s inhouse service was due to implement CM’s scheduling and mobile monitoring solutions when the country went into lockdown. Having made the decision to adopt the technology they were keen to proceed so implementation, training and project management were adapted to suit the new circumstances. This was achieved over a four-week period allowing the council to rapidly benefit from real-time rotas and service performance data.
With many care workers already used to receiving schedules and recording information on their mobile phones, increased changes to visits can be easily accommodated.
Crucially, CM care management also allows councils and providers to have real-time information about what is happening in the community allowing them to rapidly adapt as circumstances change whilst still delivering quality, person-centred care.
The pandemic has opened people’s eyes to the possibilities that technology can bring to social care and this winter the efficiency, risk avoidance and quality benefits are going to be more important than ever. It is very unlikely that this is a temporary phase and the sector will need to adapt and evolve their solutions to ensure vulnerable people continue to get the care they deserve.