As I write this the New year has been and gone and with that, some of the best-intentioned resolutions have gone with it. For some people these resolutions can be harder to keep than others; no real schedules, late nights and early mornings and a stressful work environment can be tough. With the rapid introduction and implementation of technology in the care environment, will it help to encourage and retain a high-level of staff?

At any point there are roughly 1.47 million people working in adult social care. With that there also comes a large turnover of staff, around 110,000 vacancies are open within the sector at any one time. This comes because of people leaving soon after joining the care industry. The under 30’s are more likely to leave the sector completely than any other age range, an interesting fact when young people polled recently suggested that volunteers should prop up the social care system. We have also seen that workers with relevant social care qualifications had a lower turnover than those without any at all. A number of care homes now have access to rostering software which allow them to fairly allocate hours to their staff. This can have a huge impact on the attitude and well-being of care workers; it means they are not overworked, working back to back shifts and can have regular time off.

We need to remember that the people working in the care sector are not just caring for their residents’ physical needs. They make sure people don’t face tough decisions on their own. They hear every complaint, every ache and every pain. Alongside the high dependency care they give, they also must carry out every day mundane tasks like taking the rubbish out. They console and provide emotional support to not only those in their care but also their family and friends. They act as a safety guard, always thinking of ways to keep residents / family safe. They are also simply a companion, they talk to, take a walk with and help people avoid loneliness. All of this is done by a single person at any one time. Implementing technology within any care environment can lessen the load for the caregiver. Even simply by cutting down the multiple hours of repetitive paperwork at the end of a shift by doing it digitally at the bedside as and when events happen. There are a number of software providers who can supply this, to see a demo of iCareHealths’ Mobile point of care software, click here. Mobile point of care can increase your homes’ efficiencies and staff are able to get on with the job they love at the touch of a button. This also means the care plan or paperwork is more detailed and correct as it is done at the moment it happens and not hours later from memory or hastily jotted down notes.

The Herald paper in Scotland recently undertook a study into the lifestyle of nurses and carers. The study published in the Journal of Advance Nursing, found that 82% did not eat enough fruit and vegetables, 37% of staff were smokers compared to 21% of the general population and 43% exceeded the recommended alcohol intake. This is not surprising when you link it to the stress and tiredness that comes hand in hand with the job these people are doing. Overnight shifts with lack of easy access to healthy food options and relieving the stresses of a hard day with alcohol and nicotine are hardly shocking. It is almost inevitable that this takes its toll on care workers’ health due to the pressures of the roles they play and the overstretched healthcare services. How can these behaviours be changed to help attract new staff that are going to stay and progress?

On the market now are many software and technology devices that can help save time and energy for our care workers as mentioned before. Some of the frontrunners for these developments are in Japan. In some of their care homes they have earpieces which let them know when a resident’s bladder is full. Not only does this save the carer from going room to room and having to wait for a resident to sit on the toilet and do nothing, but it can also cut down on incontinence in some residents. They also have motion sensors on the beds, so they can track breathing and movement from a main station in the home. With this type of technology, you are not only helping the caregiver but also giving dignity back to the person being cared for. Surely most people will agree that helping someone in this way is incredibly rewarding? You can also read more about advancements and care homes of the futures here.

With the advancements in technology, is it enough to bring in the best carers and keep them in their position? One major reason people leave jobs within the care sector is due to pay. Many people can get more pay working in their local supermarket, working set days and less hours. Several carers have said they are fearful in their role and the care system must make it a priority to train staff to provide the high-quality care they are paying for. Technology is becoming more and more prevalent within care, whether residential or domiciliary. The outlook being that the technologies being put in place will not only help those being cared for but also to help those giving the care.

Penny Bennett, nursing home owner: ‘People would get paid more working in a supermarket. Care has always been a Cinderella service, but coming into work now is like walking into a burning building without any fire-fighting equipment.’ Courtesy of the Alzheimer’s society.

Many care homes are now adopting a holistic approach to values and behaviours for recruitment and retention. So how can care providers target, attract and take on the right people, who are more likely to stay with them and progress within the team? I believe that technology can play a huge part in this. Applicants knowing that their hours can be relied on, that the care and medication they are giving is recorded as and when it is happening so any problems or future health issues can be followed up correctly are hugely relieving. Many of the systems available to care homes, when used and implemented correctly, can give carers a massive confidence boost. Going into a new workplace with solid procedures and recording processes gives the new team member the confidence in themselves and their workplace to do the best they can.

Can technology bring in the best? I absolutely believe it can. However, with any technology, it is only as good as the data that is going into it. If the tech is being used correctly, it can have a huge impact on the workplace, helping with those mundane tasks but also allowing carers to excel where it is most important, with the people they are caring for.