Digital solutions in care homes

The AHSN NENC is leading a programme to accelerate the use of digital health solutions in care homes, which is transforming patient care across the North East and North Cumbria.

In 2020, NHSX initiated a new Remote Monitoring Scaling Programme to build on the digital health advances achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic, and accelerate the use of digital innovations to transform patient care. The regional programme, led by the AHSN NENC, supports care home staff to quickly and securely communicate and collaborate internally and with local authorities and NHS organisations.

We’re working in close partnership with digital leaders from CCGs, local authorities and a variety of other stakeholders to rollout Health Call’s Digital Care Home service into the region’s care homes. Health Call is a collaboration of seven NHS Foundation Trusts across the region. All our partners are working together to support care homes to adopt digital services, by providing the necessary tools, access to the system and training.

Aims

There are three main aims to this programme:

  • To support care homes in the adoption of the Health Call Digital Care Homes service to become better connected
  • To enhance the quality of care and overall experience for care home staff and their healthcare partners
  • To significantly improve communication between care homes and wider healthcare services.

Programme delivery

The programme has already rolled out the Health Call service into three areas in the region (Newcastle, Gateshead and Tees Valley). Support has continued for those areas, along with a new region, North Cumbria, who are set for their deployment later in 2022.

Upon completion, we will have made digital services available to over 280 care homes and over 8,000 of their residents. The programme aims to be completed by June 2022.

Health Call Digital Care Homes

Health Call introduced a unique technology that allows care home staff to refer patient details to clinical teams using a secure portal. A key feature within the service is the SBAR tool (situation, background, assessment and recommendation) which enables staff to provide clinical observations such as; blood pressure, oxygen saturation and provide details of their concerns.

The system calculates the NEWS2 (National Early Warning Score) based on the information provided which in turn allows the home to provide a high-quality referral and gives staff the ability to triage and better manage their caseloads. If required, all information is pulled through into the electronic patient record making this available to the wider health system.

Users of the system have been provided with the necessary equipment needed, including a tablet device, pulse oximeter, blood pressure cuff and digital thermometer. In addition to this functionality, care home staff can also use the tablet for video calls.

Closely monitoring resident’s health remains an important part of day to day routines within care homes and Covid-19 has taught us just how critical this is. By utilising the Health Call digital service, the programme enables care home staff to digitally monitor patient deterioration and refer to other care providers.  For more information visit the Health Call website.

Benefits

The benefits of the service are vast, ranging from:

  • Residents feeling better cared for and more involved in their care
  • Greater reassurance for resident’s families
  • Care home staff feeling more empowered with increased confidence when communicating with healthcare professionals.

Digital technology also brings service efficiencies including:

  • Freeing up care home staff from lengthy phone calls
  • Allowing staff to spend more time with residents
  • Reductions in the number of times a Care Home Manager is called out when a resident is unwell.

In addition, clinical staff are able to triage referrals and better manage their caseloads and provide the right care to the right person at the right time.

There are also wider cost saving benefits for the NHS associated with the digital service that contributes to reduced hospital admissions, A&E attendance and visits to the care homes by other healthcare professionals.

This programme builds on previous work supported by the AHSN in the region which has focussed on digitally enabling care homes, including Well Connected Care Homes and the Is my resident unwell? tool, which is a useful communication aid to guide care homes in effectively reporting a resident who they believe may be unwell to other healthcare professionals.

Care homes requirements and support

Care homes will be supported to adopt the digital service by their local project teams, who will provide the necessary tools, access to the system and training.

Once training has been completed and staff are able to use the device as intended, they will be able to contact healthcare professionals quickly and efficiently. The expectations will be that the care home staff, along with the support of their health care teams, will continue to carry out the following activities to support the achievement of the programme aims and its associated benefits:

  • Measure, record and send readings, along with NEWS2 scores, to health care teams
  • Ensure all key information about the resident is sent using the SBAR tool
  • Hold video calls with residents and other health care professionals, where deemed appropriate and beneficial to do so.

For more information please contact Robin Blythe, Programme Manager at [email protected]

A Digital Care Homes event hosted by AHSN NENC took place on Thursday 5th May 2022. The event had a variety of speakers from the region and beyond, outlined in the agenda below. The event was targeted at several regions in the region who are at varying stages of deploying digital solutions (in this case the Health Call Digital Care Homes Service) in their region’s care homes.

Agenda

View the agenda here.

Presentation slides

View the slide deck from the event here.

Event recording

Watch the event in full below. Please note that unfortunately some of the presentation slides within the recording have not been recorded however a copy of the presentation slides can be downloaded above if needed. Those presentations without slides are:

  • “Is my resident unwell?” tool
  • An introduction to Health Call Solutions Ltd
  • Digital Care Homes in County Durham (Durham County Council section only)

Additional event outputs – questions and answers

As the breakout session and dialogue from the chat aren’t included in the recording, a summary of those questions/answers and lessons learnt has been produced. View the additional event outputs summary here.