5 ways to use technology to support professional care workers (and what to avoid)
This shows requests to the OnCare servers at different times of day when care workers are using their smartphone to record care visits. It looks just like a heartbeat trace on an ECG. The care workers that visit some of the most vulnerable members of our communities every day, really do set the rhythm of the industry.
We know how valuable professional care workers are, so how can we keep them safe, working and motivated?
As part of Professional Care Workers Week, we’ve put together this short guide showing how technology can be used to keep your care workers safe, productive, and engaged, so that everyone they support can receive the best possible care. Plus, for each benefit, we’ve includes a few watch points to look out for when reviewing technology options.
1) Give your care workers more time with clients and less time driving paperwork around
Switching from paper to a digital system will allow your care workers to spend less time moving paper documents around, and more time focusing on delivering outstanding care. What’s more, it saves money on office space, as all files live in the cloud rather than in physical filing cabinets.
Right now it’s even more critical to prevent care workers returning to the office regularly, so using a digital system can help reduce the number of people they are in contact with and therefore reduce the spread of COVID-19. It’s also incredibly handy (now GDPR is well in place) to not have to worry about sensitive client data being carried around or lost on public transport – one less worry to take away from your care workers by going digital.
So technology can be used to help manage and montior care remotely, which helps to reduce the spread of the virus and keep you and your teams’ data safe.
2) Make your care workers feel safe with location tagging (but not tracking)
By using a technology like GPS tagging (built into all modern smartphones), you can see when care workers are checking in and checking out of client visits, which can help to evidence whether they were or were not at a location when an incident occurred.
The technology can also be used to verify that a care worker attended a scheduled call, even if the client refuses entry or is absent for the visit. This can help assure your care workers that you’ve got their backs if a dispute were to ever come about.
3) Avoid your care workers feeling frustrated, by providing technologies that focus on ‘ease of use’
Some of the best care workers are amazing at the care side of things, but very inexperienced or even scared when it comes to technology. Often we find that many care workers (before using a care management system), may have never owned a smartphone before or downloaded an app.
The technology system you choose must be usable by these people (as well as your more tech-savvy staff); otherwise your less technical care workers could end up feeling embarrased and frustrated with it, and it could end up being more a hindrance than a help.
If you find something that the less tech-y staff can use, they’ll see the benefits of it, and it may end up being a first step into a whole technological world that they weren’t a part of before.
Do spend time looking at the front-line software tools and ask yourself (or them directly) if it would work for everyone in your team.
4) Empower care workers to do their job without making it a checkbox exercise
A system that sets guidance for care workers on the sorts of activities they need to be doing with each client, but doesn’t set a rigid checklist of activities, will empower your care workers to use their own minds and initiative when delivering care of the best quality.
Your care workers know your clients best and as long as they don’t endanger the clients’ health, they should have the freedom to act and report on whatever activities will best support the clients’ care outcomes.
We all want to feel like we are making a positive difference through the work we’re doing, but some companies and software systems treat care workers like robots, who must complete a set list of tasks without any deviation or human intervention. This is sure to demotivate any care workers who have the right passion and training to help people, but who are prevented from doing so.
There’s even a model of care delivery known as the ‘Buurtzorg’ model which has shown success in Northern Europe. It works on the principle of fully empowering care and support workers to entirely self-manage their time and activities, all with a clear focus on improving client care outcomes. Regulation and payment-wise we may be some way away from this becoming a reality in the UK, but there are some fascinating lessons to be learnt about empowering your team to make some of their own decisions.
5) Take repetition and isolation out of the lives of your care workers, with good communication tools
If your care workers are forced to repeat the same information to office staff, fellow care workers and client’s family members, then something is bound to get missed or lost along the way and your care workers will get frustrated.
Make sure you choose a system with encrypted data-sharing capabilities, so that care workers can read each others’ notes, the office can follow up on alerts, and information can be shared with the client’s family.
Not only will this improve the quality of care (as everyone is sharing clear and important information about your clients), but it will also make some care workers feel less lonely. Domiciliary care can be a lonely job – moving from house to house seeing clients, without having any time to catch up or socialise with your fellow colleagues. Internal communication tools can help make care workers feel more like part of a team, or in some cases a family, and avoid tedious repetition.
Technology can be used very effectively to keep your professional care workers feeling safe, able, empowered to make decisions, and part of a team.
If you treat professional care workers as equal team members, and humans that are there to do the best job they can, you’ll get the best out of them and your clients will see the benefits in the quality of care received.
At OnCare we always develop our software with the frontline care workers in mind, and will never release a feature that we feel might make their job more difficult. We also believe in supporting care workers financially, which is why we give 1% of all of our revenues to The Care Workers Charity, to make sure as many care workers can stay financially stable and in the industry as long as possible.
If you would like to see a demo of our software system and see the impact it could have on you and your professional care workers, head to www.weareoncare.com.