SUPPLIER FOCUS: How digital can boost efficiency and curb COVID-19

Woman nurse or doctor professional standing

Brett Smith, Director of Customer Success at Planday, explains four ways in which digital tools play an integral part in the management of care homes – particularly during a global pandemic. 

The UK has more than 15.5 million people aged 60 and over. Even before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, many challenges made caring for the UK’s ageing population difficult, with even more pressure to come in the next few years. Caregivers now have to constantly reimagine and reorganise their operations to best meet changing clinical demands.

In these challenging times, digital tools have become indispensable, and if used correctly – they can improve efficiency and, ultimately, curb the spread of the virus within a facility.

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  1. They provide a safe work environment for caregivers

Doing this in a sector that’s often understaffed, can certainly be problematic. It’s important to factor in the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, which in turn results in a lack of agency or ‘bank’ staff in the sector. This could be as a result of illness, exposure, or the need to care for their own family members at home.

As employees take leaves of unspecified lengths of time, precise employee scheduling is vital. Software that is tailored specifically to care home management will help you do this, simply and efficiently.

For example, Planday’s software enables you to build smart and flexible staff rotas for care homes – which take into account employee skill, demand patterns, work regulations and employee contract terms. You can also make ‘open’ shifts available to employees with specific skills.

  1. They improve communication significantly

Whether it’s the immediacy of dealing with COVID-19 or the range of other challenges staff rotas and staff management for care homes need, keeping clear and open communication with your team is key.

To foster an all hands on deck approach so everyone knows what’s going on, managers should create a regular communication cadence. Continually assess and tweak your communication plans and policies, and endeavour to deliver the right message in real-time, through the right channels.

Use digital tools and apps to tailor communications, and message employees in real-time when changes occur to keep them in the know.

In turn, you’ll improve trust with employees, which creates a community of happy care employees, who are passionate about giving better care. And while care home workforces have been challenged immensely in the past year, a happy team has proved essential to maintaining the connection and care that residents need right now.

  1. They help to maintain accurate records

Having a comprehensive audit trail is critical to keeping your business running effectively and maintaining quality assurance. Good processes and record-keeping also helps manage any interruptions to staff rotas or shift-swaps for care home workers, especially during COVID-19.

Having employee management software in place can save the day. Tools can provide accurate time-critical data to answer questions such as: ‘When did a member of your team clock in or out?’ ‘Which department do they work in?’ Or: ‘How many colleagues were present that day?’

  1. They protect your staff and patients

If any patient in the facilities did come into contact with an infected employee, or another patient, you must make conscious efforts to keep them safe.

If a health record system is in place, it’ll be easy to access details regarding the patients’ issues and problems faced. This way, even as you isolate them, you’ll be in a position to prescribe the most effective preventive or curative methods for the patient.

Using digital tools also eliminates the need for manual check-in, spreadsheet data recording and paper payments. Ultimately, this can reduce the spread of the virus within the facility significantly.

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The author Lee Peart

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