Mobile Solution

Every day there are more mobile phones sold than babies born. The mobile market is growing in all spheres and is already revolutionising the social care sector. This has been done with numerous benefits to providers and service users. When considering whether to invest in a mobile solution it is important to be aware of both the tangible and intangible benefits that can be achieved.

The burning questions that providers always ask are, what is the investment, and what return can I expect. The key to any successful organisation is cash flow. Hence ensuring the solution can reduce costs and deliver a strong return on investment (ROI) is vital.

Benefits to management

No more paper time sheets

With a mobile solution, time sheets and visit information are accessed directly through the handset. By eliminating the need for care workers to carry a paper timesheet, head office can instantly reduce printing costs. Take the following example:

         40 workers x 25 visits = 1000 visits per week

         Average number of pages per time sheet = 4 x 40 workers = 160 prints per week

        160 prints per week x 52 weeks of the year = 8320  [1]

At a minimum, this figure could double based on reprints as visits change. The cost associated with this number of prints (both paper and ink) can result in significant savings for an organisation when adopting a mobile solution. If we take this one step further and look at the cost of sending out schedules, the following saving can be achieved:

       40 rotas per week x 62p first-class stamp = £24.80 per week

       £24.80 x 52 weeks of the year =   £1289.60 – just in stamps.

Financials are one avenue to consider when looking at the benefits of a mobile solution. It is very important to investigate the intangible benefits as well.

Safe handling of confidential data

The care and protection of vulnerable members in the community is the underlying reason that social care organisations exist. This, therefore means that the safe handling of confidential data is vital. Names and addresses should be stored in a secure, safe environment wherever possible. Handing out paper time sheets with the names and addresses of service users could be incredibly risky if lost or not disposed of. This is in accordance with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) principles. A mobile solution holds data securely and is encrypted. The encryption means that the data cannot be accessed by anyone without the associated permissions.

The mobile web-app can also be configured to timeout after a chosen time period. Furthermore, the app can be deactivated remotely. This ensures that if a device is lost, the application cannot be accessed without the care workers username and password.

Benefits to care workers

Staff acquisition, satisfaction, and retention

Staff satisfaction can significantly impact staff retention. Research commissioned by Skills for Care calculated the average staff turnover in the social care sector to be at 24%, with some organisations experiencing a turnover of up to 120%.

Mobile software can generate an enormous uplift in staff satisfaction. This is not only from the intuitive features of the software but also from the change in the organisation workflows. If we take the example above, mobile timesheets allow care workers to access their time sheets using the mobile device. This means care workers no longer have to come into the office to pick up and drop off time sheets. Picking up these time sheets is often a time consuming and, consequently, tedious task.

The process for payment is, therefore, more efficient. It is no longer reliant on all care workers delivering their weekly time sheets to the office. Ensuring care workers receive payment on time further contributes to staff satisfaction and decreases unnecessary stress that can come with delayed payment. Secondary to this, when recruiting new staff, advertising that your organisation has paperless time sheets has shown a significant surge in job applications for our clients.

Worker safety

Organisations have a duty of care to all employees. With care workers offering services within the homes of service users, worker safety is of prime importance. The location service feature within the software can pinpoint the location of a care worker. This means that if care is being delivered outside of the home, the feature also notifies the office. This notification pops up if a care worker has not checked in or out of a visit location, highlighting that a potential problem may have arisen and allowing the organisation to take appropriate action. Care workers can also press the alert button within the software to inform the office they require help or assistance. The ability to access this information ensures the organisation can put the welfare of care workers at the forefront of their services.

Key Benefits to coordinators

Time-saving

The auto-sync functionality automatically confirms visits as workers check in and out of a service user’s location. This saves coordinators hours every week as only discrepancies in visits need manually checking. Based on the figures in part one of this post, 1000 visits every week could be automatically confirmed. This is done by the care worker checking in and out of the location at the scheduled time as required. This streamlined process not only saves time but also increases staff satisfaction. It significantly minimises the need to manually confirm time sheets. In accordance with this is the ability to prove a visit was completed if discrepancies are raised by the service user’s family or friends.

Generating time sheets for each worker is another lengthy process for coordinators that is subject to weekly amendments. Coordinators spend hours, sometimes days, calling care workers, leaving messages and then recalling when visits are covered. This process is timely, as care workers are often in and out of visits and unable to answer calls, but also an extremely costly process.

'Job Offer'

To enhance the allocation process it is possible to electronically offer a shift or job to a worker or group of workers. This is carried out via the mobile messaging functionality. Rather than having to phone 10 potential workers, one simple “job offer” can be sent to all at no cost. The first worker to accept the offered job has it added to their roster. The remaining workers receive an automated message to notify them that the job has now been allocated. The added benefit here is the ability to track what work is offered and accepted by each individual. Any messages sent to a care worker’s mobile device can also be tracked by when they were received by the handset, when they have been viewed and whether a visit offer has been accepted or rejected making performance management a much simpler task.

Key Benefits to service users

Quality person-centric care delivery

Mobile solutions allow care workers to access information with greater convenience. The ability to understand more about the service user’s habits, likes, dislikes and preferences before they enter the service user’s home. This can greatly determine the level of personalised care delivered. The recording of tasks and progress notes on site ensures information is logged accurately and timely. Better data quality means more informed decisions and enhanced service user outcomes. This allows the care workers to deliver more person-centric care and helps ensure the service users’ needs are continually assessed and met.

For more information on what iCareHealth’s Mobile Care Worker software can do for your organisation click here.