Interview with Professor Martin Green, CEO Care England

Professor Martin Green is a long standing champion of delivering more Person Centred Care in the UK Social Care Sector.

 

 

1 Professor, what does technology driven person centred care mean to you and the Care England organisation?

When we use technology effectively we free-up staff time, so staff are enabled to have much better interactions with the people they are caring for. So often staff time is taken up with things that are about administration or things that are about developing audit trails or just about how to organise time. 

I also believe technology really helps us to understand the individual service user.  So the information you need to know about the end user, to make sure they’re receiving a personalised service, is captured using technology. All of these wonderful things that are about ‘the person’ become a deeper part of the care process and technology ensures that nothing gets left out.

2 One of Care England’s strategic priorities is supporting innovation, how do you see technology innovations influencing the future of the social care sector?

One of the things I think we are bad at in this sector, is using technology effectively. Technology will be driving social care innovation and I would like to see it in much greater use.  The key areas I see it having an impact in are:

  • Monitoring people’s medical conditions. Being able to transfer information to either the medical practitioner or indeed to the care worker, so that you can see subtle changes in the end user’s condition, so that remedial actions can be put in place, before a person goes in to crisis.
  • I would also like to see technology being used to give a clear audit trail on how we have delivered care, so that there is evidence that good care outcomes have been delivered.
  • I would also like to see technology aiding communication between the care home, resident and the families so that everybody feels part of the care package.

Now, the technology that is around at the moment, could do all of these things, but what we have to do is get the sector to understand how incredibly useful technology can be to enhancing personalised care, improving outcomes and maximizing efficiency. 

Our National Conference in November is going to be focused on the whole issue of technology and how to improve the use of technology in the care sector. 

One of the things I’ve been doing is talking to care providers about what the technology options are and also what some of the take-up issues are. What’s come out of these discussion is that too little dialogue has been going on between those who develop technology and those who could potentially use it.  And often, if we don’t have that dialogue, technology gets developed, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark.  What I think we can do as Care England is to act as a conduit between the needs of the sector and the innovation and creativity of people who develop technological solutions. And so we’ll have technology that’s fit for purpose and really delivers what people need and what they want.  

3 When you speak with Providers, what are some of the common problems that you hear around Person Centred Care?

I think one of the biggest issues with person centred care is how do you deliver it to somebody who might be living with dementia, who might have for example, have very little communication, who can’t necessarily talk to you about their needs, preferences and wants. The answer is around building an approach to care planning that is based on the person they are. This means understanding their history, understanding their preferences, and making sure we deliver a care package that is in tune with all the things they liked before they developed dementia.

Technology can really help us to deliver that high quality personal care that every single citizen has the right to expect, and that is quite difficult to deliver when people are in the advanced stages of dementia.

Note: Martin Green holds a role at the Department of Health, he’s the Independent sector Dementia Champion, appointed by the previous administration to look at how the independent sector engages with dementia and improves the quality of care for people.

4 If you were developing a new application designed to enable a more Person Centred Care approach, what would it look like?

If I was asked to develop the ideal application for 21st century personalised care, it would have several elements to it.

  • Care Providers could put in to the system all the wants, likes and preferences of the person. There would be real-time access to the personal history and providers would understand what motivates the person, so that they could give more personal care.
  • Real-time digital care planning, so when people’s needs change, it would be very easy to amend the Care Plan. The system could record what people have done, and it’s clear to all who have access, exactly how the care plan is being delivered. The system would also record and keep the relevant people up to date with changing needs.
  • I would also have something as well, that could be viewed by people’s loved ones, friends and carers, so that they could see how that person is living day to day. This feature would keep people in touch with those they love who might be in the care setting.
  • I’d have technology which is giving constant data about people’s medical conditions and how they are changing. That data would be fed in to the doctors, pharmacies and into the health service so that people get the right care, at the right time. The care would be preventative and not crisis driven.

One of the things I’ve been really impressed by is the “Inclusive Care” video on the iCareHealth website. iCareHealth talks about the Six Pillars that drive technology and care; Pro-Active Care; Involved Residents; Connected Family and Friends; Joined-Up Services; Real-Time Management and Supporting Compliance. I think this is really important because iCareHealth has identified not only the needs of the people themselves, they’ve linked that to the needs and the opportunities to engage with their families and other services. iCareHealth also reference how important the staff are and how important it is to enable them to deliver better care. When people watch the video, I think they will see really clearly outlined, how important technology can be and what an impact it can have on people’s quality of life.

5 What technologies have you seen recently that you felt helped to deliver a more Person Centred approach?

A good starting point for Providers, is a care planning software tool that identifies and records what actions care and support people have carried out and creates a really good audit trail. Care planning software with mobile functionality, for example on an iPad or tablet, enables recording of tasks at point of care. When a carer with a tablet is spending time with an older person, and even while they have a cup of tea together, the carer can record the amount of liquid consumed, with a swipe of a finger and this information can go directly in to the care plan.  

Now, if you can remember how in the past a task like this was done; carers would have to take time away from residents, to go to an office, to look at a care plan, to write down that someone had 100 mls and often of course not only might they forget how much was consumed, they might forget to record it.

These new technological approaches make it easy to do the right thing and it makes it easy to really clearly give evidence that you’ve done the right thing.

Using technologies to track people’s medical conditions gives providers clear data that can alert them when a resident deteriorates. With this information in real-time providers can take remedial actions that can prevent people from going to A&E and into crisis.

So there’s some good solutions out there, but there is a lot of opportunity for new functionality in the future.

6 What advice would you give one of your Care England members who wished to adapt a new technology solution?

My advise to any care provider that is thinking about how they use technology is to first of all ask themselves, ‘what are the things that would really help us, what would be the technological solutions that would make a difference to the quality of our care and to the outcomes of our residents and to the efficiency of our business?’

I would then advise them to scan what products are around. If I saw products and thought well that nearly does it, I would engage in a dialogue with the company that developed the solution.

One other thing to think about is that if you talk to people who are developing IT based solutions or new initiatives, if you tell them what you need as a care provider, then you are giving IT companies valuable information that they need to develop better products.  So in short, it’s about being clear about what you want, what things will make a difference, and if there isn’t anything that’s absolutely right for you, communicate this.

7 What important information about an end user do you think is often overlooked, or goes unrecorded, from a reporting perspective?

If you get a new technology in your organisation, don’t be frightened to share what you are doing and to show the benefits with everybody. The more people who are engaged, the more the effects and impacts of using technology will roll out, so it will be beyond just the person who uses the service, but it will go further than that, it will go to their relatives and friends, it will go to the staff, it will go to the people who support you in the wider health and social care sector, the GPs, the nurses and more. When you have a new technology, don’t hold it to yourself, make it widely available and make it everybody’s business.

8 What importance do you give to data and informatics when it comes to giving better care?

Data is going to be the driver of good quality care and every single care provider should be thinking about how they currently use data and how they can harness data tools or informatics to improve their current services and planning.

 

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