Looking after our elderly generation

It has been emphasised again and again how our population is living longer, hence there is an increase in elderly population. The ripple effect of this is that they’ll use the greater amount of NHS resources and demands for care home are going to rise.Care wards

Care homes have been in the spotlight quite frequently and more often than not in a negative light. Poor care, abuse, mismanagement and a lack of organisation has been the root of this problem. How can this be solved?

Abuse at care

All facts and figures are taken from the BBC Panorama investigation into care homes. At times the panorama was difficult to watch. With the use of hidden cameras we see the elderly receiving physical and verbal abuse, a lack of attention to care and sometimes a lack of attention and acknowledgement of their existence altogether.

Alarms in the form of calls for assistance by the elderly are ignored and they’re often mocked. Families who put their mothers or fathers in a care home are usually because they have no choice. They’re financially restricted, current living conditions are not adaptable to the needs of the elderly and lifestyle commitments (in the sense of working and family life) are common occurrences.

Though with disgust, it was interesting to learn about the happenings at certain care homes. You might be thinking about what a data management organisation has to do with care homes. DCC care about the population and we understand that everyone, including our own loved ones, may require provision of a care home and if we act now we can set up a brighter future for ourselves and our future generations.

Monitor

The foundation and purpose of any care home is to look after its residents and monitor them effectively. Setting up a robust structure of monitoring and reporting will ensure that residence have the best chance possible of receiving good care. At the same time we also understand that any infrastructure put in place cannot be successful without caring staffs that are willing to take responsibility of their job seriously.

Audit call bell logs

Every resident has a call bell next to their bed, which is rung when assistance is required. Auditing the call bell would beneficial as the data could be used to formulate patterns on call bell usage for various patients as well as the reason of calling. For example, patterns could show that a certain resident always rings the bell between 8pm-9pm for the bathroom therefore a nurse can prioritise that specific resident for an hour. Establishing certain patterns can allow nurses to manage their time better. Furthermore, there was case of nurse’s deliberately unplugging buzzers in the panorama investigation. Malicious activities such as these can be picked up, also.

Process body map

The panorama investigation displayed a body map, an outline of the body on a piece of paper. The purpose of the body map is for a nurse to mark on the paper when new bruises or cuts appear. It is the responsibility of the nurse to complete the body map.

Processing of these body maps could identify common areas of bed sores and therefore changes made in the habits of turning residents. Furthermore, a set regiment may be in place for all residents; however, it may be that certain residents require a different regiment and frequency of turning due to the individuality of each resident. This allows the residents a better experience in their stay. Stay in a care home is usually until death and not temporary as is the case with hospitals, therefore a very significant factor.

Recording vitals

Undoubtedly, all residents will be on a medication plan and certain patients vitals may be taken at regular intervals such as blood sugar levels. It is important that these checks and medicine are administered on time and methodology of identify where nurses may have forgotten.

Digital pens are an effective means to achieve this. Using a digital pen a carer can fill in the necessary documentation to confirm administration is complete and this data can be sent to the care homes existing system for storage directly from the pen. Various infrastructure combining of aspects known as business rules and workflows can ensure missed administration is marked and is nurses are alerted.

Capture experience

It can be argued that a residents experience in a care home can be made to look biased under intimidation of carers or a lack of understanding, however, if properly done, we can give residents the best possible chance to voice their opinion.

DCC have quite significant experience in patient experience and we know capturing of experience is done with the end user insight. In the case of care homes this means to use text, colours, layout and structure in a way that suits the elderly best and also using the current deployment method. Many healthcare providers are switching to tablets but are they the best for the elderly?

The data from this experience can be fed onto a dashboard which can identify themes and issues mentioned by residents and therefore make this data actionable allowing care homes to make decisions in the interest of their residents. The same methodology can be applied when processing complaints and the two can be used together to make positive long term changes.

Conclusion

Large sums of care home residents and their loved ones are losing faith and confidence and it’s about time we help our ancestors and forefathers. We have used technology mainly for recreational activities and enjoyment for ourselves and now it is the time to use it to help one another.

If you have any questions or comments about the points discussed in this article then please do contact us. Alternatively, if you’d like further details or even a free demo of the proposed solutions, book a workshop.

Like it? Share it!