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homecare software guide

Home care Software: The Essential Guide

As care professionals, we all want to improve care standards for clients.

From organising staff rosters to keeping care plans up to scratch, the admin often gets in the way.

Luckily, technology now allows forward-thinking care agencies to do away with many pieces of paperwork.

By using home care software, agencies not only have all the information they need for their next CQC inspection easily to hand, but can also free up more time to actually spend with clients.

So let’s take a look at the options, and dig a little deeper into what home care software is and how it can help.

What is home care software?

Home care software is a digital way of managing care delivery and monitoring care workers and their interaction with clients. These systems allow organisations to manage staff schedules, create care plans for clients, and perform powerful tasks like invoicing and payroll.

Home care software is a digital way of managing care delivery and monitoring care workers and their interaction with clients. These systems allow organisations to manage staff schedules, create care plans for clients, and perform powerful tasks like invoicing and payroll.

Agencies get to improve their services, manage their employees more efficiently, and improve client care.

And the best thing?

These features are all packaged in the same platform! The best home care software systems will save care providers so much time and money, they can reinvest that time and money back into delivering amazing care for their service users.

Domiciliary care software overview

Until now, different pieces of kit were needed for different parts of the care process, with competing platforms not playing well together, meaning higher prices and more headaches!

However, as technology has improved, so have the options for comprehensive care solutions, including:

Comprehensive call monitoring tools, where employees can update their care notes via secure mobile phone apps.

Simple staff rostering systems, capable of coordinating staff visits.

Administration platforms, allowing agencies to oversee all aspects of their financial and staff management.

At OnCare, we’ve been on a mission to produce an easy-to-use, integrated platform that gives care providers a one-stop-shop for their care needs.

🎉 Hooray!

So let’s take a closer look at the nifty features you can expect from the leading domiciliary care software providers.

Common features of care technology

The exact features of domiciliary care software may vary from company to company, but here are some of the inbuilt capabilities you can expect:

Carer mobile app – There’s no longer any need for complicated, expensive equipment, as platforms can be accessed on any modern smartphone, with many systems working equally well on Android phones (common brands include Samsung or Sony) or iPhones.

Login from any location – password-protected, encrypted logins allow staff to sign into applications and update care notes at a client’s house or on the go, even when there’s no reception. Any changes made ‘offline’ (without connection to the network) can be saved an uploaded later once the care worker has a connection again.

Record keeping and incident reporting – Social care requires excellent documentation, from training reports, risk assessments and care plans. Alerts must also be recorded and messages from friends or family stored safely, not to mention the completion of incident related forms.

Voice-to-text dictation software – At OnCare we’ve provided voice recording technology, which not only improves the speed and accuracy of documentation but also makes it easier for support workers who are more comfortable speaking than writing. This is helpful for care workers for whom English isn’t their first language, as well as care workers who may not be as comfortable with technology.

Geolocated electronic call monitoring (ECM) – When care workers attend an appointment, systems record their exact location, in addition to arrival and departure times, making for a seamless service.

Family and friend updates – Keeping loved ones in the loop is essential in the modern care environment, with nominated individuals receiving real-time alerts of each visit. 

Rota planning– Visual, drag and drop builders now provide office staff with intuitive, easy-to-amend schedules whenever the day takes an unexpected turn. Care staff can clearly see what they have planned on any given shift.

Travel information – Agencies can now accurately gauge travel time between visits, decide on individual mileage rates and apply specific exclusions for lunchtimes and breaks.

Invoicing and payroll – Invoicing private clients and the local authority is easy, while automatic payroll features calculate monthly staff costs.

Third party integrations – many systems include integrations with other digital platforms. For example, your care management software may integrate with your payroll provider or accounting tools. At OnCare we’ve ensured that all data can be exported via csv exports so that care providers always have the information they need, and can either create their own insights from the data – such as average visit duration, or frequency of missed visits – or can upload this data to be used in other systems.

eMARs – electronic medication records (eMARs) are systems that enable the office staff to input the correct medication per client into the system; so the care workers can then report on whether each type of medication was prompted, assisted, administered, refused, or other – with supporting notes. This allows the care provider to spot patterns in the medication management and enable course-correction where needed. For example, if a client regularly refuses their medication in the morning visits, it may be related to a difficulty in swallowing, so a liquid version might be better.

Data analysis – If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Collecting important information on your care workers and clients helps improve organisational decision making and service delivery.

Staff management system – Digital platforms cater for a range of HR-related needs, including employee applications, staff training and appraisals, holidays, sickness and DBS expiries.

Home care software really can pack a punch and transform organisations, with many agencies enjoying a raft of real-world benefits.

Get in touch and see how OnCare can help you

The benefits of cloud-based services

Saving money – Many smaller agencies still rely on paper-based systems, which is both time consuming and expensive. From staff taking longer to complete their notes to the extra travel time in and out of the office, these types of inefficiencies will hurt any organisation’s growth. In contrast, by going digital, we estimate that agencies can save at least a few hundred pounds every month, and upwards of five minutes with every client.

Improved CQC ratings – Ah, the dreaded CQC inspection! Fortunately, it no longer needs to be such a burden. With comprehensive reporting and documentation handled automatically, it’s easier than ever to demonstrate how you’ve been responsive to changing care needs of your clients, well-led as an organisation, as well as safe, effective, and caring.

More client contact time – In care, if it’s not been documented, it’s not been done. Frequently, this means support workers need to spend significant time writing their notes after each visit. With a mobile phone app, staff can now choose what they’ve done with each client through pre-selected options, making the process quick and painless. Our case studies show that this can save as much as 15-20 minutes per client.

Happier care workers – You probably do your best to hire the best support workers in the business, those that can strike up an instant rapport with their clients. However, often these staff are expected to spend a large proportion of their day dealing with needless admin. Home care software lets care workers re-focus on their calling. By logging into their secure mobile phone app the night before their visits, staff can see their schedule, read their client notes and identify any important alerts. This means engaged staff, ready to hit the ground running as soon as they start work each day. Also, investing in tools that make the lives of your care workers easier shows that you care about them, and helps to keep them around longer.

Better teamwork – With varying shift patterns and the changing needs of clients, care workers can sometimes seem like ships in the night, making detailed handovers and continuity of care difficult. Not to mention the effect on teamwork with different care workers coming and going. Now, with all the important care notes stored safely online, each staff member can pick up where their colleagues left off, ensuring a unified approach with each client.

Safeguarding staff and service users – Using geolocation within home care software, the tram in the office can now see exactly where and when care staff are logging in and checking out of their visits, in addition to exactly what’s taking place on every visit. So if a family raises an issue or a client refuses entry, you now have digital evidence of what happened. This information not only improves accountability in the care process but also helps keep insurance premiums low! Our partners Aviva have modelled the significant impact that digital record keeping can have on insurance claims – if it’s clear who was at the client’s home, and what happened during a given incident, it’s much easier to close off the claim quickly. 

Improved care standards – Despite the best care, incidents sometimes happen, which often go unnoticed for too long when using paper systems. If a client fails to take their medication or develops signs of a more serious health issue, digital tools allow an alert to be raised immediately, with no extra admin for the care worker. This can be picked up by the care manager, who can refer the incident to relevant health professionals, like the GP. Such streamlined systems nip any potential health conditions in the bud, before they become major issues.

Happy families – Naturally, when a loved one requires care, family and friends seek peace of mind. This ranges from family that demand daily updates, to others that simply want reassurance that an agency is doing their job well. Home care software does just that, notifying nominated individuals of a care worker’s arrival and departure through real-time alerts. Friends and family can also log into the system, providing access to client notes and greater participation in the care process. At OnCare we even have the option to send text messages to key family or friends to give additional reassurance whether they live down the road or in a different country. 

Attract and retain new clients – By adopting the latest technology, agencies can show potential service users in a few quick clicks that they take their care standards seriously. With a beautiful interface tracking every aspect of your care, clients can be sure that they’re in safe hands, especially if friends and family don’t live closeby to call in regularly. With friends and family alerts and birthday reminders, you can add the personal touches to your care packages that your clients and their families deserve. Simply remembering someone’s birthday can have a huge positive impact on their health.

Improved security – Paper notes are hard to keep secure, especially when left unattended in clients’ houses for anyone to read. Home care software makes such concerns a thing of the past, as agencies can keep care plans confidential, with individual staff passcodes, user permissions and online banking level security, using the latest forms of data encryption. So instead of desperate hunts for missing paperwork and finding secure filing cabinets for mountains for notes, agencies can focus on delivering excellent care.

General Protection Data Regulation (GDPR) Compliance – The introduction of GDPR has caught many agencies by surprise, especially when it’s no longer permitted to send identifiable client data or care rotas via email. By adopting digital tools, organisations can instantly adhere to the new regulations, with all sensitive information sent and stored securely.

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Considering the impact

Before adopting a new system, it's vital to consider how it may impact your organisation.

To help, we’ll address some of the common questions we receive from our clients:

How will our care staff cope with a new system?

If staff have been using one system for a long time, it’s natural to be apprehensive about change. We also know that care staff might not always be comfortable with the latest technology. Therefore, it’s vital to search for a simple system that doesn’t require a PhD in computing. The OnCare system is designed to be used by ‘non-techy’ people and we do everything we can to make sure care workers and office staff know exactly how the system will work before getting going with it.

How will we learn how to use it?

Getting started with any new technology can be daunting, and comprehensive training is essential to get you off to a good start. Having top notch support on-hand will ensure that any of your questions and concerns are answered quickly.

Is it safe?

The team behind any software should be make it as secure as possible, through individual logins, encryption and secure data storage. As such you can rest in the knowledge that client data is kept secure and you’re compliant with current regulations. At OnCare we’ve built in additional features to try and avoid user-error and to keep client data secure. The CQC are fully on-board with digital systems for care record keeping, and often quote the use of centralised systems as a reason for giving ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ ratings.

How can other people in the wider care circle access the notes if we go digital?

Often care management systems have ways to share data with key individuals in the wider care circle to help ensure the best care outcomes for the client. In the OnCare system, social workers, physiotherapists, or GPs can be added to the system and given access to only their specific client’s information; and there are other tools designed to make it easy to download care notes from a certain period and share securely with external parties. In an emergency situation, if paramedics are called, it can be a literal life-saver to be able to access a client’s profile remotely and quickly provide information on medication, health conditions, or DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation) status.

Will it work in my area where phone signal is poor?

Some systems will require a phone or data connection to work correctly, whereas others (like OnCare) work just as well online as well as offline, or in poor signal areas. Make sure you ask about this before you sign up to any digital system, to check it will function for all your support workers, regardless of whether they’re visiting clients in remote or rural areas.

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How much does home care software cost?

Home care software can vary wildly in price, so let’s take an example to get a clearer picture of the costs.

Home care software can vary wildly in price, so let’s take an example to get a clearer picture of the costs.

For an agency with 5 office staff, 10 care workers and 30 clients, who need call monitoring, rostering and family updates, prices can range from £100 to £1,300 in the first month – a really big spread, and a significant decision point if you’re just starting out as a new agency.

Let’s face it – some software costs an astronomical price for functionality you might not actually need.

At OnCare we differ from most companies in terms of pricing, catering to small and large organisations by keeping costs low, only building functions that care providers actually need, and offering additional bolt on products as the provider grows their business.

est that time and money back into delivering amazing care for their service users

How do I get started with home care software?

If you’re thinking of jumping on board with home care software, first decide what you require – what are your biggest pain points that are keeping you up at night? Smaller agencies naturally have different needs to larger organisations and listing your specifications will aid your initial research.

Hit the Internet and check the features offered by popular pieces of software. Do the products on offer match your preferred price point?

Decide how long you want to commit to one piece of software. For example, at OnCare, we offer a flexible rolling contract, making sure you’re happy every step of the way and allowing you to leave at any time. Many companies however, may have a minimum contract length, locking you into their product.

Reach out to your shortlist of companies and ask for a home care software demo. This can be done through screen-sharing on your computer, providing a step-by-step walkthrough of the features and functionality of the software. You can ask any questions and visualise the platform at work in your agency.

Ask about setup fees and ongoing support, which could affect your initial budget. At OnCare, setup and support is free, although many companies may charge for these services. In some cases, set-up costs can go into the thousands of pounds, so be sure to ask about this up-front.

You’re ready to join the digital revolution!

We know that choosing a new system is a bit of a minefield, especially when there are so many options available. After all, you’re probably not a techie, geeking out over the all latest care gadgets.

You just want to a system you can rely on; one that supports your care and not the other way around. 

You know that choosing the right platform will benefit your agency, help your care workers and improve the lives of your clients.

So reach out using the contact form below and ask us any questions – we believe in doing whatever we can to make care easier. We’re here to help.

Get in touch and see how OnCare can help you