20th June 2018

How developing technology could be the home care sector’s remedy

By Mike Moreton, Director, Health and Care, Civica

The community and residential care sector is at a tipping point, with the challenges it faces thrown into sharp focus via recent cases of providers seeking financial rescue plans as the climate gets tougher.

There’s no doubt that the sector has been hit by a perfect storm of financial cuts, increases to the minimum and living wage and a hike in taxes and administration charges. In the words of Vernon Baxter, Managing Director of HealthInvestor: “There are endemic problems within how home care is commissioned, funded and delivered that need to be addressed.” In short, if the current model were to collapse, the responsibility would shift back to the NHS and local government authorities – creating further issues down the line. 

This situation is clearly unstable, and we need to solve it through changing the way we think and operate. There are ways to re-shape the community and residential care model – and technology underpins these. Solutions now exist to optimise employee efficiency, maximise income, provide a common platform for future growth and expansion and, ultimately, improve care outcomes.

Through workforce optimisation, better care planning, mobile working, automation of financial and administrative processes, compliance for quality assurance, analytics and cloud services, this sector will be able to operate on a much more efficient basis. Whether that’s business-operational processes such as automated scheduling and optimised route planning, or care-related processes such as mobile acceptance of shifts for reduced dependency of agency workers, a seamless and simultaneous overview of both is a great springboard for this industry to move forward in a positive way. 

There has been an increased acceptance of mobile technology within the sector. After some initial resistance to mobile monitoring, especially around time and attendance being viewed as potential ‘big brother’ interference, employees and leaders in the industry now view technology as a firm enabler to better ways of working and delivering care. 

This willingness to adapt to and adopt new technologies marks a positive move for the community and residential care sector, especially when improvements in healthcare and lifestyles mean we face an increasingly ageing population. In fact by 2040, nearly one in seven people is projected to be aged over 75 so this issue is not going away. As technology is only further enhanced by the pace of innovation – from cloud and digital technologies to artificial intelligence and augmented reality – it will genuinely enable real change for the sector’s future.