There’s no mistake that we’re feet-first in a digital age – one of instant alerts about the international news of the day right through to all the local gossip from friends and family. It’s also a time of utilising mobile technology for daily tasks, whether it’s getting step-by-step directions, booking a holiday or paying a bill.
Regardless of whether you’ve embraced the digital age or are hoping to ignore all the added buzz, for domiciliary care especially, the ability to track and manage home care visits effectively is so important to providing a safe and efficient service. Some branches coordinate regular home visits for more than 30 customers: for different days, at different times, and for people with very different support needs.
“It’s with a sigh of relief that we no longer have to rely on paper-based rotas,” says Natalie Cooke, Branch Manager of Helping Hands Cheltenham & Gloucester, who’s worked in domiciliary care for enough years to remember the old paper-based systems.
Here we take a look at some of the main ways that we’re using technology to monitor and track home care visits and ensure the welfare of our customers.
Real-time monitoring of care visits
For some years now, we’ve been using Celltrak technology, a secure mobile app that helps each of our branches to schedule and monitor customer visits. Carers can now simply clock-in and clock-out of each visit using their work mobile phone.
The app offers crucial real-time insight so we can ensure our customers are getting the support they need.
Using GPS mobile technology, the system allows each branch to monitor where its carers are at any time. While clever apps are unable to stop road accidents or bad weather, what the app does do is generate alerts if a carer is going to be late so the office-based team can contact customers and reschedule if needed.
Natalie was working as the Care Coordinator for Evesham and the Cotswolds branch when Celltrak was trialed for the first time there. Having become accustomed to the peace of mind the app offered to customers, carers and office teams, she still wanted the reassurance of the app for her new Gloucestershire-based branch.
“I’d used the technology at another branch, so the prospect of going back to printed rotas was something I didn’t want to do!” explains Natalie, who quickly made it her mission to get Celltrak in place for her new team.
When asked about the real-time updates, Natalie says, “The software is really rather clever. Having a tool in place that can coordinate supporting people in the local community and that gives us direct access in the office is so important.”
Regular checks and quality assurance
Thousands of customers are supported by our carers each and every day, and they all have very different care plans and support needs.
A customer’s care requirements quite often change too. Sudden changes to a customer’s condition, medication needs, allergies or their daily support needs means that our home care specialists need to offer a safe and responsive service to make sure the care provided – and the carer themselves – are still the right fit.
So that our home care managers can respond quickly and effectively, Helping Hands business systems specialist Ian Clayfield is currently rolling out a secure system that tracks these changing requirements.
“We’re using digital support plans and smarter forms for face-to-face assessments,” explains Ian. “Another exciting feature are the automatic alerts sent direct to managers when a support plan needs reviewing or when a carer requires supervision or extra training.”
The major benefit of all this automation means that changes in regulator guidelines, legislation, procedures, standards and medication, for example, can be actioned across the board for all of our customers.
More importantly, care managers are able to spend more time supporting each of our customers and also our carers.
Safer procedures for lone working
Another big bonus of real-time technology is the ability to know where our lone-working carers are at any one time.
Natalie knows this from experience. “About five years ago, one of our carers skidded off the road in her car. Luckily unharmed, but still very shaken, because of the Celltrak app one of my colleagues was able to find exactly where she was and ensure she was safe and well.”
She adds emphatically, “From a branch manager point of view, I can now sleep at night. We have so many carers supporting people at different times of the day and night, so to know that they’re safe and where they need to be is a big weight off my shoulders.”