Futures of Care: Embracing Care Home Technology

Earlier this month leading care providers got together to discuss what is on the horizon for the industry at the Futures of Care Conference.   For the veterans of the sector, it comes as no surprise that funding, policy and staffing issues remain the perennial themes.    Over the past couple of years, a new theme has elbowed its way in – the role of tech.  More and more this dominates debate and penetrates the big questions for the future of the sector: What tech is out there? What benefits does it bring? How can it be funded?

Embrace tech in your care home– errrr OK, how?

 During the conference, the message was loud and clear.  The sector needs to embrace technology.  Talks included panel debates on the introduction of AI and robotics into care delivery.  The benefits and advances in technology were just so impressive, it’s like the science fiction films of your youth. You can’t help for being enthralled by the promise of tomorrow’s world.

I sat and listened attentively with my colleague who is a self-confessed technophile (I’d hope so, he’s our Tech Director!).  Despite our passion for accelerating tech adoption in the care sector we were both equally struck by how over-facing it must be to know where to start. For a care home that is doing everything on paper, bringing in a robot to interact with your residents is so far removed from reality that it’s easy to see how technology chat gets wrapped up in the parcel of “not for me” and definitely “not now”.

Get excited but be realistic…

 The reality is that technology is a very broad spectrum.  As an industry, we need to make the message clearer: you don’t need a robot to be embracing tech’s benefits!

Each care provider’s needs are different so their priorities will be led by their strategic plans.  According to the Competition Markets Authority, about 70% of the care providers only operate one home.  More often than not, we therefore aren’t talking about big corporates with a full IT and project management team who can assess and/or trial each innovative tech project that comes their way.  The sector is also still a long way from reaching digital maturity.  Many operators – large and small – are still doing the most basic functions on pen and paper, things which other sectors digitised a decade ago.

At CoolCare we LOVE tech and get so excited by all the possibilities out there but listening to the talks.  We are as guilty as anyone for talking about the “imagine if and often forget to emphasise the very simple but meaningful benefits that basic tech adoption can bring.

The future of tech in the care sector is super-duper exciting.  It’s great the care tech industry is researching, inventing and developing ground-breaking tech.  As soon as providers are ready for it, we can provide it.  But let’s encourage and help those who haven’t started the journey to unleash the huge benefits that even the simplest bit of tech adoption can bring them.

Benefits of simple digitisation

Care homes need practical help on how to get started on that journey.   It’s over-facing to see such advanced technology and the complex risk, benefit and cost calculation that comes with it.  First of all, for those looking for help, we’d point you in the direction of the excellent guidance Skills for Care have created for providers to help plan their digitation: Guidance on Digital Implementation.

Here are our top 5 simple benefits from just having digitised record-keeping:

  1. Easy to access records quickly

  2. Archiving time vastly reduced

  3. Better audit trails and more control on data access

  4. Ability to make swift edits

  5. Less paper files = more storage in your home!

Even without automation or fancy features, digitisation itself helps to save time, save money and reduce risk.