The local impact of technology enabled care

April 25, 2019

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by Edel Harris, Chief Executive of Cornerstone

Through Local Cornerstone, the Scottish care and support provider Cornerstone is developing self-organised teams where staff are supported by coaching and mentoring, rather than management and supervision. An important part of Local Cornerstone is the introduction of technology enabled care to assist us in meeting our charitable purpose, which is to enable the people we support to live a valued life – a life they choose.

With our partners from CareZapp we have introduced new ways of working that help to address some of the challenges facing social care providers in relation to the payment of the Scottish Living Wage for sleepover hours. Overnight support has become an expensive area for Scottish care providers so what if there was a way to both improve the outcomes for clients and use the available resources more efficiently?

Cornerstone and CareZapp are expanding a technology-enabled care project to test a solution. Homes have been fitted with a variety of sensors that can open windows and doors, detect motion, movement in bed and incontinence, and other events. Alert buttons can be customised as part of the package as appropriate. The support is personalised to the individual client’s needs.

The CareZapp platform provides an overview of the activity to a locally based response team who can manage the needs of a far greater number of supported people. Alerts – also personalised – will notify this team immediately if there’s something that needs to be dealt with, with listening and video verification in place to assess the situation. In addition, the sensor data is parsed into meaningful information that can be accessed by the person’s support network, including family.

There is a growing sense that the successful deployment of digital technology could help to address some of the well-known challenges in health and social care. The Carnegie UK Trust, too, has been exploring this through an evaluation of the implementation by Blackwood Homes and Care of CleverCogsTM, a bespoke software package that aims to improve quality of life, choice and independence of supported people.

The research, conducted by Just Economics, similarly identified efficiency savings as an outcome that holds the potential to ‘free up’ time for frontline staff and management. But, importantly, it also highlighted increased digital participation (a key aim of CleverCogsTM), which influenced a range of outcomes, including increased time spent on meaningful activities and improved wellbeing.

We are just beginning to understand the wide range of potential benefits of using digital technology in health and social care: from improving efficiency and maximising resources, to increasing social connections and delivering personalised care. These are all exciting possibilities. But as we explore the potential of technology enabled care, we must equally ensure that its application remains grounded in human relationships and our social purpose: that is it implemented to improve the experience of care and to enable people to live a valued life – a life they choose.

This is the third of four blogs from Cornerstone. The Trust is supporting Local Cornerstone as part of our Enabling State programme of work. We hope the learning from this innovative approach will provide insights for others seeking to move toward more enabling ways of working.

Find out more about our Enabling State programme here.

Our What Do Citizens Want? research highlights the profound impact that the relationship between practitioners and the people they support has on wellbeing and some of the challenges practitioners face.