Back in June we shared some insight into how we think Covid-19 will change the skills needed in social care, with technology driving much of the developments in care homes out of simple necessity to safeguard residents during the pandemic while maintaining family contact. In fact, we have reported the many examples of homes using technology in innovative ways throughout lockdown across our social channels and in our regular ‘Good News Review’ mailers (if you don’t receive these, email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list and have uplifting industry stories sent direct to your inbox). But as the country continues to reopen and attempts are made to ‘return to normal’, will we ever go back to caring as we know it, or will care home technology remain in place?
According to a recent analysis by carehome.co.uk, tech is here to stay, and staff and residents alike are embracing it.
While the pandemic may have prevented in-person visits to homes, the need for residential care has remained. So, in order to continue to allow families of potential patients to take a tour of the facilities when seeking care for a loved one, many homes have turned to virtual tours, and they’ve certainly been valuable.
In fact, carehome.co.uk quoted a spokesperson from Halcyon Care Homes where video introductions have proven useful: “We have used the virtual tour for both our care homes. This has been invaluable for us especially during the current pandemic. The tour has allowed those enquiring, the opportunity to look around our care home in great detail.
“We offer this feature after we have had a visit giving the opportunity for families and friends to go away and take their time looking at all the facilities we have to offer or, if they are unable to come into the home then this option is great.”
Going forward, these tools will make it much easier for families to fit ‘visits’ in at a time that suits them, without taking care home staff away from daily tasks, a win-win all round. Of course, a final in-person visit is the best possible way for anyone to decide which home is best for their loved ones and build the rapport with those who will be caring for them. However, for already stretched social care teams, virtual tours can significantly reduce the time impact that multiple in-person visits will have.
And for those potential residents who are perhaps unable to travel to visit multiple locations, having access to this digital facility can really help ease any anxiety during the transition and help them adjust in the lead up to a move.
Demand for virtual tech
When we consider the benefits that virtual tools have on residents, their family and care home staff, it is perhaps no surprise that specialists in this field – such as Xpansive Digital – have seen a real increase in demand in the last six months.
As the company’s director, Justyn Shea, explained:
“Anxious relatives naturally want to ensure the older person will be comfortable and content in their new surroundings. The situation can be urgent, with quick decisions required. But how do family members find the best home for their aged parent or relative, especially if they live hundreds of miles away and have limited time to spare from their own busy lives? “A way to identify and experience the most promising homes at a distance could save those relatives a huge amount of time and energy.”
“Virtual tours are an ideal addition to any care home website. Managers and staff will be able to direct stressed families in search of the best care home to these powerful online resources, providing reassurance.”
Sophisticated care home technology tools
Aside from the direct Covid-19 related technology developments like virtual tours, there’s also a raft of tech innovation in the pipeline that could really change the way social care workers operate in the very near future. For example, just last month, Care Home Professional magazine reported the launch of a unique facial analysis tool that can aid care home staff in the identification and management of pain in dementia and cognitively impaired patients.
The intelligent pain assessment tool, PainChek®, can analyse facial expressions through artificial intelligence to monitor whether a patient is in pain and alert careers and healthcare professionals. This innovative technology has the potential to significantly impact care where the patient is unable to communicate with carers.
For care home staff that work tirelessly to provide the best possible care for residents, this tool has huge potential to change their daily routines for the better.
Technology: the future of care homes?
Clearly technology will continue to play a role in care homes on a longer-term basis, and the potential it has to assist staff in day-to-day activities make it a worth-while investment. As Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, explained, technology really can positively impact care: “The care home of the future will be one that is enabled by technology, and this will improve outcomes for the people in care homes, and it will lift many of the administrative burdens from the staff team, enabling them to focus on the quality of care. Technology will also play a vital part in enabling people in care homes to live as independently as possible and to have choice and control over many more aspects of their lives.”
However, it does mean that more professionals will need to be tech savvy in order to make sure the technology really works for them. While training and development of staff will certainly be key, it’s highly likely that we’ll continue to see more employers seeking new hires with a level of experience in numerous tools. That’s where a specialist recruitment partner like WR Health can really add value to your care home.
Our team of hiring experts have extensive experience and a wealth of connections across the social care field. Whatever skills you need, we can find them. Why not contact them today to find out more.