Opinion: How Technology is Helping Meet the Growing Demand for Care at Home

John Hough, , MD and Founder of CareLineLiveThe shortage of home care staff has had a profound impact on communities, hospitals and home care agencies. With thousands of vacant domiciliary care positions and a significant increase in shortages across the entire adult social care sector, there is a pressing need to find scalable solutions.

Josh Hough, MD and Founder of CareLineLive, says that harnessing technological advancements can play a pivotal role in addressing these challenges effectively…

Unlocking scalability through home care tech

User-friendly home care management software offers agencies the opportunity to optimise their resources, improve administrative efficiency, and enhance real-time communications. Implementing paperless systems for care rostering, care logs, client record-sharing, and task scheduling can streamline processes and allow agencies to focus on streamlining operations to boost their capacity.

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Photo by National Cancer Institute

By reducing the time spent on non-value-added activities, agencies can better manage their limited resources and meet the growing demand for care services effectively. For example, South Eastern HSC Trust created an additional 3,919 hours of capacity (a £73,000 value) with no additional recruitment or agency staff hires by implementing homecare management software. Simplifying tasks such as recording fluid intake, medication management, and meals through digital, interactive client portals, following checklists to minimise errors and complete tasks efficiently, and automating mileage tracking can enable care staff to allocate more time to providing high-quality care to individuals and families.

Reducing administrative workload

Outdated paperwork and record-keeping processes have been found to have detrimental effects on patient outcomes. Accurate and up-to-date administrative tasks are essential for delivering personalised care and meeting regulatory requirements. Digitising processes such as logging visits, documenting completed tasks, tracking dietary information, preparing care updates for stakeholders, and managing timesheets and expenses can significantly reduce the administrative burden on home care agencies and their carers. This, in turn, allows them to dedicate more time to providing companionship care and improving the quality of care visits.

The benefits for home care agencies

Home care agencies can also benefit from technological advancements by optimising internal processes such as payroll and client invoicing whilst integrating with specialist accountancy software such as Xero. The transition to digital and app-based record-keeping is encouraged by regulatory bodies recognising its importance in delivering integrated services. Embracing digital solutions can enhance operational efficiency and ensure the sustainability of agencies in the face of increasing demand. This is backed by the government which has set the target of 80% of CQC registered providers to have digital social care records by March 2024 and NHSX providing funding of £8.2m to support this digitisation. This funding will partly go to home care agencies towards the first-year costs of software companies, like CareLineLive, as part of the Adult Social Care Digital Transformation Fund.

Future innovation in UK home care

As demand for care services continues to grow and capacity decreases, it becomes imperative to embrace technological innovations. Smart home connectivity, voice activation, wearable tech, and other future advancements have the potential to further enhance safety, quality, availability, and innovation in home care. From devices that enable in-depth diagnostics and preventative care to efficient record-keeping through smartwatch dictation, integrating these technologies can transform the delivery of home care services.

Implementing care tech solutions allows agencies to optimise resources, improve administrative efficiency, and enhance communication. By embracing digital solutions and streamlining processes, agencies can increase their capacity and provide high-quality care to meet the growing demand. As the care tech industry evolves, incorporating innovative technologies will further enhance home care safety, quality, and availability for the benefit of all involved parties.

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