The Future of Care Delivery: How Technology is Changing the Game
There is no doubt that the COVID pandemic has changed the way we think about technology in care (or technology enabled care). On the one hand, it has highlighted how technology fails older adults, often spectacularly. One of the main reasons for this is that older adults, who have impaired mobility, often find it difficult to perform even the simplest of tasks; things like powering on, changing the batteries, or selecting apps.
On the other hand, we have seen numerous examples of technology making a huge difference in the lives of care recipients, giving them the ability to remain connected to loved ones and caregivers. Technology has helped them manage their day-to-day activities, giving them back their independence and reducing their reliance on care.
All of this has resulted in an acceptance that technology must be part of the way we deliver care, and an understanding that technology must be customer-centric and integrated into care delivery — and must not be treated as a nice-to-have.
Adapting to Changes in Care Delivery
In professional care delivery, there are human considerations (well-being of care workers and recipients) and economic considerations (resource allocation and budgets). Behind all of this, any organisation responsible for the care of others must also consider how a change of culture will support the successful adoption of a hybrid care model.
In a hybrid care model, some care is delivered remotely — using automated prompts where possible. In-person and remote care must be tightly integrated for maximum effectiveness. For example, it is no use offering an automated prompt for a medication event if the care team has no idea it has been completed.
Benefits of Remote Care
Remote care is, therefore, a brand new field, and the only organisations with any experience here are those who have already been deploying their solutions as part of new projects for the most pioneering local authorities. Service Robotics Ltd has seven live projects with local authorities (including Cornwall Council) and is becoming the de facto authority in successfully integrating remote care into care delivery.
Pitfalls of Technology in Care Delivery
Our experience has helped us identify six common pitfalls as local authorities begin their transformation journey into care delivery, which are:
- Assuming that individual pieces of technology will make a difference without management or oversight, or a change in culture.
- Choosing technology that does not integrate well.
- Underestimating the amount of training and support needed by care staff.
- Overestimating the ease with which external organisations can be relied upon to be change agents.
- Assuming that all forms of technology are acceptable (and usable) to those for whom they are deployed.
- Lack of buy-in from stakeholders. These include care delivery teams and care recipients who are, in many cases, elderly. Therefore, choosing an easy-to-use solution is critical.
Benefits of GenieConnect® by Service Robotics
In most cases, the solution to our care delivery crisis cannot be hiring more people: in 2023, the shortage of care professional remains at a staggering 165,000. Extending the reach of our care staff with technology that embraces remote and automated care is widely regarded as the only sensible option.
Our projects have demonstrated an increase in care efficiency of around 20% when the right technology is deployed. In other words, a team caring for 100 care recipients — in a reablement or adult social care project — can service 20 more recipients (120 total) using care delivery platforms, such as GenieConnect®.
At a ratio of one care worker for every five care recipients, this means the platform removes the need to hire four new care workers. At agency rates of £500 per day, this represents savings of as much as £60,000 per month; whereas the cost of the platform for that cohort size would be c£17,000, giving a monthly saving of up to £43,000 (or £516,000 per year) for a modest-sized project.
However, the benefits extend even further because the platform can be flexibly deployed across multiple use cases, including reablement, mainstream adult social care, and supported living for those with learning disabilities. This is generally not the case with care workers who have, at least, a preference and, at most, a specialism in one or the other. Organisational limitations can also prevent this kind of resource sharing across different cohorts.
In addition, the platform does not incur overheads of holiday pay, sick pay, staff turnover, or other forms of non-scheduled unavailability. This means that care providers can offer a more reliable and consistent service by complementing the essential human care it offers with the highest possible level of remote care delivery.
Remote care is here to stay. With the number of virtual wards increasing, we are now moving into a new era of opportunity with remote care delivery. Among the bewildering array of solutions available, there is a collective anxiety about how these solutions should be brought together to move the needle on care delivery. An adequately integrated care delivery platform that has been proven in the delivery of successful outcomes — but that also has the capability of embracing future sensor-based solutions — is essential to the future of care delivery.
Enabling the Future of Care Delivery
As we forge ahead, knowledge sharing and transfer become essential. When pioneers in remote care delivery come together and share their experiences, tremendous progress is possible. Service Robotics Ltd is animating this community with a series of best-practice webinars and face-to-face meetings for senior practitioners in local authorities to help each other avoid the pitfalls and share successes.
If you would like to begin your journey into using technology in care delivery, together with the organisational transformation that implies, please don’t hesitate to contact Rob Parkes for a conversation about how we can help.