You might think that the most important aspect of delivering excellence in domiciliary care is the interaction between the carer and the service user. I would agree with that. You might also say that technology can never be a substitute for the professional and inter-personal skills of a skilled carer. I’d agree with that too. So, what role should technology play if delivering good standards of home care is mostly to do with human interaction – and what has all this got to do with smartphones?
The CQC Essential Standards guidance has a lot to say about providing personalised home care services. It requires service providers to plan and deliver programmes of care, developed with the service user, which meet individual needs. Plans must be regularly reviewed and updated and the care must be delivered by somebody appropriately qualified and experienced. There are a lot of processes required to make this happen effectively.
Technology is, of course, good at organising processes. But having care management software that just focuses on the process side is missing the point. If good care is all about the interaction between carer and service user, then good care management software is all about supporting that personal interaction.
The CQC has no system for evaluating care management software, and there is no process of certification or awarding an official ‘CQC Compliant’ stamp of approval. So care providers cannot simply shop for management systems carrying a recognised stamp of approval or quality – no such thing exists. So, in the absence of any official kite marking, perhaps the critical evaluation question for providers should be: ‘How will this software help my staff deliver better care?’ Ultimately, it is the quality of care delivered that the CQC will be looking at during an inspection, so this is probably a good aspect to focus on.
Mobile Technology and CQC Essential Standards
Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have the capability to make available all of the information carers need, wherever they need to deliver care. Consequently, the care plan they are using is always up-to-date and accessed on-line from a live database, rather than being the paper copy they downloaded last time they were in the office.
Similarly, using mobile technology effectively means that observations or concerns about service users don’t have to be remembered or scribbled down for later use. They can be updated immediately via the mobile device and be visible to everybody who needs to see them. Meeting CQC Essential Standards means that care plans must be flexible and responsive to people’s needs. This is much more likely to happen if the processes for highlighting concerns, adapting plans and then making the new information available are as straightforward as possible. Any software that seeks to improve the quality of care delivery must be very simple to use and shouldn’t come with a significant requirement for staff training.
Well-designed domiciliary care management software will help you ensure that service users see their regular carer wherever possible. But sometimes this isn’t possible. Having access to detailed and current on-line care plans and records is an essential requirement for delivering continuity of care and consistently high quality service in all circumstances. Intelligently designed web based software makes this possible.
Ensuring that any new or substitute carer has the appropriate qualifications is also a critical consideration. This is made much easier if the management system stores this data and can use it to pre-select eligible carers as part of the roster management process.
Mobile technology clearly has a role in helping home care businesses meet the CQC Essential Standards. And to come back to the original question, a smartphone can make care more effective and more personal, but only if it uses software that has been designed with support for the interaction between carer and service user at its core.
Dan Farrell-Wright, CareForIT
CareForIT is a web based management package designed specifically for domiciliary care providers. To find out more click here for an online demonstration
Or call the CareForIT team on 08455 44 32 11