Technology in care homes

If a care or nursing home is being established or upgraded, it is worth considering the contribution technology, and the clever use of data, can make to improve the care and support of residents with dementia living in the care or nursing home.

Technology can offer a timely, efficient and useful way to capture and record care notes. For example, handheld mobile devices with appropriate software, can allow staff to update ‘in real time’ the care given or information they want to note about a person rather than adding it to the paper notes at the end of a shift. The software could be configured to know what an individual’s normal day routine is, so can ask staff applicable questions, and offer a range of quick answers, at the right time, to speed up data entry. It increases what is recorded about the person so that staff and managers have a broader picture of a resident’s health and care. This system can also provide a gateway for relatives, so family members can log in from a distance to read information about their loved one’s day.

Acoustic listening devices can be installed in the resident’s room. With the person’s agreement, it can be switched on at night allowing staff to ‘keep an ear’ on noises in any particular bedroom rather than having to patrol rooms, potentially disturbing people’s sleep. Staff can check on a person if they hear an unusual sound is. A similar system of cameras can be installed if deemed appropriate and with the person’s consent.

Digital records are held centrally so managers can analyse the information entered by staff to confirm, for example, that a person has received medication. They can also check when incidents such as falls tend to occur and change staffing patterns if deemed helpful.

The data collected should be used creatively and cleverly to maximise potential of the system. It has to be linked and integrated, creating a full picture of an individual such as identifying changes in mobility, sleeping, drinking, using the toilet or a physical system such as blood pressure or heart rate. The automated highlighting of anomalies needs to be carefully planned, so an alert is only raised when a trend is noticed, rather than for each individual instance of concern.

Technology can streamline business systems such as staff-rostering, text messaging of staff in different parts of the home and automatic scheduling of meetings between staff and management in response to complaints and incidents.

Digitised locking systems can be installed instead of using keys and locks. This ensures parts of the home can be kept secure, when necessary, and access is limited or controlled where necessary.

Access to tech-enabled health and care services such as telehealth, telecare, telemedicine and tele-coaching help residents and care staff to manage long-term conditions without having to leave the home. Video consultations with local hospitals and consultants can be a useful way to access specialist care and advice between clinical appointments.

Helping to prepare for CQC inspection. Care homes are inspected every two years against the Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOES). To be rated as Outstanding, a care home must demonstrate innovative facilities and solutions which using technology can demonstrate if relevant evidence is provided.

With a good Wifi system, staff can access information about dementia and be encouraged to keep up to date with latest thinking.

Useful links

Some potential solution providers

Disclaimer: The products mentioned are to provide ideas for consideration only, none are endorsed by SCIE.