Jack Blake, National Sales Director at Tunstall Healthcare explores how combining technology with an innovative approach to care can help providers to achieve outstanding Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings.
In July this year, CQC published guidance on how providers have used technologies to improve the quality of care, Driving improvement through technology. This follows its report Celebrating good care, championing outstanding care which stated ‘New technology is influencing the way health and care services are delivered – and it is transforming care for some people.’
Driving improvement through technology includes examples from across health and social care, of how CQC is encouraging innovation and improvement through new technologies. It also outlines how technology can support the delivery of outstanding person-centred care in relation to the five key lines of enquiry (KLOEs) that CQC uses when inspecting health and social care services:
1. Are they safe?
Technology provides people with an easy means of quickly summoning help in an emergency, for example by wearing a personal pendant linked to a home unit or apartment hub. It can manage common risks such as falls, helping to prevent them and enabling a fast response to mitigate the consequences if a fall occurs. Technology such as fall detectors, motion sensors and bed occupancy sensors mean that people at risk of falling can be closely monitored, but in the least obstructive way. Video door entry and access control systems can also be used in group living environments to ensure only authorised people are admitted, and, where appropriate, people using the service can easily control access to their homes. Systems can also provide an audit trail of activity, helping to ensure information is accurate and easy to share, and avoiding the need for paper records.
2. Are they effective?
Technology can enable staff to respond more quickly to events, and target care where and when it is needed most. For example, enuresis sensors mean staff can assist when they are needed, protecting dignity and skin integrity, but they are not disturbing people with ‘just-in-case’ checks. This not only leads to more productive care but enables a better night’s sleep for people using the service, helping to improve health and quality of life. Remote monitoring of vital signs using telehealth can detect illness at an early stage, enabling it to be investigated and treating before more complex intervention is required.
3. Are they caring?
Technology is tailored to the needs of the individual, providing a platform for other care, such as domiciliary visits, to be planned around the individual’s needs. Using devices such as bed occupancy sensors means carers will automatically be alerted if a risk is detected, ensuring they can attend quickly, and prevent a fall or mitigate its effects if its already happened. Using technology in this way also frees up staff time as it removes the need for regular checks, enabling more meaningful engagement with people using the service, improving their quality of life.
4. Are they responsive to people’s needs?
Traditional nurse call systems are designed to suit buildings, rather than to meet the needs of the people living and working in them. Tunstall’s latest generation nurse call system is designed for modern care delivery, using wireless technology, smart pendants, and a carers app to enable care to be person-centred, rather than room-centred. Because the system is largely wireless, it can be easily adapted to suit individual and changing needs.
Activity monitoring systems can provide insight into people’s behaviours and routines, providing a baseline for effective care planning, and responding to changing needs. For example, if the system shows someone is visiting the bathroom more often, this may be a sign of a urinary tract infection. Detecting and treating this early not only avoids the person becoming more ill, it also saves money by avoiding the need for a hospital admission, for example.
5. Are they well-led?
Good leadership not only ensures managing the organisation to ensure it’s providing high quality care, but also continuing to improve and innovate. Technology can aid effective communication and information sharing, for example by making information available on secure online platforms. This can support a more person-centred and integrated care approach as professional stakeholders can all contribute. This way they have access to a single point of up-to-date information, and in some cases family members can also view the data, helping to widen the circle of care and provide reassurance.
You can use technology to challenge the status quo. Things do not have to be done the way they have been done in the past. Technology enables new ways of working, it’s just about asking the questions to suppliers and tech providers, how can we be better at this, how can we save time doing that, how will technology benefit the user of this service?
To use technology well, the interests of the person using the service must be at its heart, but there are many ways in which it can ensure care is delivered effectively and improve the quality of people’s lives. The challenge for care providers is to be open to new ways of working, and to work with technology providers like Tunstall Healthcare to understand how they can work differently to enable the people they support to live their life to the full.
To hear more about how Tunstall Healthcare can help providers use technology to benefit service users’ care, and through new ways of working, help in achieving an outstanding CQC rating, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.