Sarah Clarke-Kuehn, Group Director at Sanctuary Care, looks at the positive impact the use of technology has had across the care provider’s homes, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, and in the four months since lockdown was announced, much has changed in our daily lives.
Things we took for granted, such as being able to spend time with loved ones, were no longer possible.
This has been acutely felt across the 102 care homes we manage in England and Scotland as we took the difficult decision to close our doors to visitors in mid-March to protect our residents, their families and staff.
Yet by using technology not only have we been able to keep residents in touch with their loved ones but harness it to continually enhance the quality of care we provide and enrich their lives.
Each of our homes was supplied with iPads in the advance of the visiting restrictions and these have helped support residents’ wellbeing by connecting them with family members and the wider community through a range of virtual platforms, supported by staff.
Relatives cherished being able to see their loved ones and vice versa. Some people read stories to their mothers and fathers, others sang songs and residents were also able to see their grandchildren.
Some residents missed not being able to take part in church services and so the iPads brought the services to them via live streaming, also enabling residents to attend events they may not have been able to attend physically before. Others, too, have immersed themselves in the technology by using video calls to make friends with residents in other care homes, while some have even started to learn new languages online as part of our popular virtual cruises, where residents are introduced to different cultures.
Introducing iPads and supporting residents to get to grips with technology was of course in response to wider restrictions enforced by Covid-19.
We are continually looking to introduce technology into our homes where it can enhance our services and benefit residents. We have now rolled out our bespoke care planning app, kradle, to all our homes and this is transforming the delivery of our services.
While care planning apps are not new to the sector, kradle is unique because it has been developed in-house by our Group Technology team, guided by our staff on the frontline who know exactly what is needed to deliver the highest quality care to residents.
Staff have access to kradle on iPhones where they can add and amend information on residents’ care plans at the point of care, freeing up valuable time for them to be with residents. Details are then automatically updated on a website, so staff can monitor care in real time.
We are also rolling out electronic medication administration records (eMARs) in our homes. Developed by Invatech Health, the Atlas system offers significant safety and efficiency advantages over traditional paper-based methods.
Acoustic monitoring, which keeps residents safe by relaying information to staff via a subtle noise detection system in their rooms, is also being piloted as a further safety solution. A sound detecting device non-obtrusively listens to residents during the night and triggers an alert for staff to respond as required, when sound exceeds or falls below a set level.
The system means staff will no longer need to carry out room to room checks on residents, resulting in minimal disruption and improved sleep patterns.
The sector may be facing a range of challenges at this time but by using innovative technology solutions we can continue to deliver the highest standards of care and enrich our residents’ lives, both now and for years to come.