News Opinion

Keeping the inside track on care planning

Paul Patarou, Head of Strategic Projects – Health and Social Care, Access Group

Every provider knows that care plans are critical to understand what’s going on in an organisation and to ensure quality – and consistency – of care. However, it doesn’t stop there. Providers have a duty to keep all stakeholders informed too, including GP, next of kin and social worker.

I know first-hand the problems that poor care plan management and systems can cause for the family. I had such an experience with my own father when he returned home from the hospital. Handwritten notes were illegible and whilst we were told we could ring up the office for updates, it wasn’t always convenient.

The thing is, I knew it didn’t have to be that way. Working in the software sector, technology is available to allow family members to read notes without even having to visit the client – i.e. my father.

Frustration all round

It’s so frustrating for the bill payer and advocate of care that they’re not able to easily get the answers they need. In fact, technology makes it efficient for everyone including the provider who doesn’t have to take calls from family members. Depending on the number of clients that could save lots of time for everyone.

It’s a shame. You can track a parcel but you can’t track your parent’s care provision and outcomes to see if they’re getting better. Signing into an online portal or mobile app when you’ve got a spare five minutes, or receiving notifications automatically, would help to alleviate worry. Knowing a family member is OK, and being kept in the loop if there is a problem, gives peace of mind.

And if the client (aka family member) isn’t receiving the care they need – or things are getting missed – you can respond quickly. We all know care professionals are busy and under pressure, so it’s an extra pair of eyes and ears on the situation as well.

Digital care planning

Documenting, recording, archiving and accessing information electronically makes the whole process of care much easier. Digital care plans allow instant communication with all those involved in a client’s life.

This has so many benefits it’s hard to know where to start. Time isn’t wasted on phone calls or written documentation as we mentioned earlier. Care workers can check on clients, address any concerns that have been raised or get updates on changes to medication. They can also complete detailed assessments and personalised care plans from a mobile device too.

Digital plans assist in the whole lifecycle of care. They reduce operational costs and maximise efficiency. No more paper-based documentation or the need for carers to ring into the office to log information. Staff can complete client updates on the mobile app and the information goes straight through to managers and coordinators. It can then be reported to officials such as district nurses or doctors as required.

Providing carers with a mobile app helps them to deliver a higher quality of care more efficiently and eliminates duplication of effort. But most importantly, digital care plans enable the next of kin (like me) to have regular updates on progress or just to know how they’re doing. No phone calls needed.

For the provider, it means being able to monitor care much more precisely like viewing outcomes from visits or shifts in real time and delivering safer care with automated alerts. At Access Group, we had one client tell us that digital care planning reduced their back-office cost from 25% to 10-15%, so there’s a financial incentive too not to mention the reporting and analysis capabilities and the ability to evidence care. The value of this is tremendous – it not only makes the carers life easier and reduces cost for the provider, it makes life less fraught for people like me, and my father.

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