These Are People’s Homes! – How can Technology Address the Issues Facing Care Homes?
Following on from last month’s blog post looking into Home Care services, this month, I would like to take a look at another Healthwatch report entitled ‘What’s it Like to Live in A Care Home?’
We have been studying these reports for the last few months and it has given us a real insight into the workings of the social care environment in the UK.
A Few Stats
There are 416,000 people living in 16,000 care homes in the England. According to the CQC, 80% of those homes are providing good quality care. Doing some quick calculations, we can see that 3,200 homes are not providing this level of care to varying degrees. If we make the assumption that each home is of a similar size, we have over 83,000 people living in care homes that don’t provide a ‘good’ standard of care!
Residents of care homes are, by their very nature, some of the most vulnerable people in society. They might be elderly, suffering from dementia, disability, or have learning difficulties. So when one of our loved ones needs to move into a care home, it is often a difficult and emotional decision, usually after much consideration and as a last resort.
Making a Decision
To take any decision in life is a risk that is usually based on insufficient information. For every decision we make, we are faced with a lack of complete knowledge. The most important piece of information affecting the decision – The Outcome – is hidden in the future. In other words, you only know the result – after you have made the decision.
The decision-making process leads us through an emotional barrier that consists of fear, uncertainty and doubt. In order to feel that the situation is under control, people need to be led through the decision making process.
It is unreasonable to expect a resident to move care homes until they find one that works for them. The report states that people struggle to get the necessary information to make an informed decision in what is a stressful time under difficult circumstances. After all, we wouldn’t knowingly want to put our loved one in a home that has a one in five chance of not providing good quality of care.
Improve the Quality of Information
One of the reports findings states that technology should be used to tailor the care to the needs of the residents. So what can technology companies do to help with the decision making process?
The key factor in any decision, is the quality of information provided. While we will never be in a position to know the winning lottery numbers, technology can provide a level of transparency that begins to allay many fears before a resident even moves in. Having systems in place that can connect the family with the care staff can have a significant impact on peace of mind. Allowing families to see what social or medical activities are planned for their relative along with follow-up evidence that the activities have actually been carried out, backed up by notes or comments, can set minds at ease. Demonstrating this before a resident moves in creates a connection of trust that things are being done correctly.
The care homes can also show how using technology solutions provide the residents with a better quality of care. Having a transparent system that makes the staff accountable for the care they give can only have a positive outcome on residents standard of living. If they are in the 20% of care homes that are not rated as ‘good’ by the CQC, this would be useful tools to implement.
Making the decision to put a relative in a care home will never be an easy one, but we can lower the emotional barrier of making that decision. By having systems in place that allow greater interaction, we can support the main idea of the report. These are people’s homes.