Personal reminiscence system delivers ROI for care homes

RemindMeCare won a start-up innovation award at last month’s Care & Dementia Show. Judges didn’t just love its features for helping dementia sufferers, they also admired its focus on the business needs of care home professionals.

RemindMeCare aims to help care homes improve wellbeing for dementia sufferers with a tablet-based system for creating reminiscence activities for residents.

The system combines a number of functions similar to those pioneered by social network giants to create digital life stories to aid memory as well as interactive circles of people including friends, family and care professionals.

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It also communicates with care management systems so that reminiscence activities can be woven into broader care programmes. The activity can be monitored and reported to external bodies such as the CQC and to the families of care home residents.

RemindMeCare (ReMe) is built to improve the lives of residents with dementia, but it also pays careful attention to the needs of care home professionals, as the company’s co-founders Simon Hooper and Etienne Abrahams explain: “After meeting with leading care groups such as the Priory, Four Seasons and Barchester, we learnt that what every care business needs primarily to survive in these difficult times are solutions that assist in ensuring profitability; those that address improving client acquisition, care assessment and remote family engagement; that reduce the costs of therapy, entertainment and medication, and which enable time saving through automated recording and reporting,” they say.

The founders describe this research phase ahead of RemindMeCare’s launch as crucial to the way they engineered the final product and how they present it to care home customers.

“Having already built a system that brings a step change to the process and capabilities of reminiscence, recognising the harsh fact that improving care was by necessity always subsidiary to these principal business needs, was a pivotal moment in their development of the pre-launch strategy,” Hooper explains.

“The light bulb lit up in the coffee shop on silicon roundabout where ReMe had been conceived. The proposition was simple. By radically improving reminiscence therapy it becomes possible to significantly enhance person-centred care. This in turn dramatically impacts on aspects that are crucial to ensuring profitability. We delayed the launch of ReMe and added functionality that addressed these key business issues,” Hooper adds.

All care homes know that reminiscence therapy and activities improve wellbeing, which is why so many encourage residents and their families to bring photos, favourite souvenirs and other important reminders into their rooms.

ReMe takes this several steps further in several crucial ways. First, it is a digital solution, so it can bring hundreds of reminders to the resident including photos, music, videos, voice recordings and more to reminiscence sessions.

Secondly, it constantly improves reminiscence sessions by learning from what has been most effective in previous sessions.

Thirdly, the way that ReMe keeps improving means it is also increasingly effective for care workers, which means that the time they spend with residents is far more effective. This, ultimately, leads to better outcomes and greater efficiency, which saves the home time and money.

It even automatically builds aids to memory using algorithms that match a resident’s actual history to other events that they are likely to have encountered.  “For example, if you deliver internet sourced content during a reminiscence session that specifically matches the life history, current likes and dislikes, and present memories of an elderly user or person with dementia, then it can not only dramatically increase their enjoyment of the session but also enhance the potential for engagement, for recall and even for establishing a body of bespoke content that repeatedly promotes calm, and which can become part of an acute care strategy. That can reduce medication and care costs,” Hooper explains.

For example, if a resident used to love holidays in a particular Cornwall village, ReMe can automatically pull in content from the Internet such as photos of the village. This saves time for the carer and enhances the session.

It also has the added benefit that such vibrant content not only improves the connection between carer and client but is enjoyable for the carer. And when a deeper connection is established between both through the use of ReMe, this generates a sense of self-worth and job satisfaction and so has the potential for reducing staff turnover.

RemindMeCare is already working with care home customers on rolling out its solution, but much of its trialling was done at Homelink, a newly built day respite centre in the London suburb of Whitton. Homelink’s chief operating officer Sue Hodder says the system was successful at improving reminiscence sessions for outpatients, and also delivered those sessions more cost-effectively than others she had worked with. “Reminiscence sessions can be run on a 1:1 or group basis so can be used as either therapy or entertainment. ReMe reduces costs in both. For example, with the value of music therapy being increasingly recognised, ReMe’s ability to easily build personal playlists is very powerful,” she recalls.

All care homes are concerned with reporting to the families of their residents and ReMe does this automatically while also allowing those family members to contribute directly to the content of the sessions.

Homelink also needed to report daily activities to their funders and so an activity reporting tool was built into ReMe at their request, whilst in response to the needs of the Royal Berkshire hospital, a digital This Is Me form has been included. “We find that ReMe helps new carers quickly get to know their new service users and that with the assessment and report modules, we can easily save time and money” says Hodder.

Racheal Allcock, a carer at Homelink, praised the scope and flexibility of ReMe. “With functionality such as a games module, remote family photo access and upload and well-being reporting, ReMe is stuffed full of tools that really help in the care process. It’s fun and easy to use. It’s great to be able to really use a tablet in a more meaningful way.”

“ReMe has become indispensable now. We are really pleased to have found an affordable system that delivers a quick return for investing in technology,” Hodder concludes.

ReMe has already picked up its first award for innovation, but its success will depend on convincing care homes that it delivers measurable improvements to residents’ care while delivering outstanding returns for care home owners. “To be able to satisfy the varying needs of front line carers, the dementia specialist and the CEO of a care group, all through improving care, feels a little like discovering the Holy Grail,” Hooper says.

Co-founder Etienne adds: “Its early days for us, but with our proprietary technology at the heart of ReMe there’s a lot we can do, from data collation for research through to reducing isolation.”

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