Time to move on from pen and paper records in home care

In our increasingly digital world, a sector that’s under pressure to economise and innovate is still using one of our oldest technologies...

Creating new digital tools with carers.

Creating new digital tools with carers.

Nearly all of us use digital tools - in our jobs but also across the rest of our lives - communicating, entertaining, socialising, sharing, shopping, booking, snapping.

That’s why it’s unusual to come across a situation where good old pen and paper - a technology that reaches back into the ancient world - is still going strong.

It seems even more strange when they’re being used in a sector that is under huge financial stress and where the benefits of organised, real-time data can have a tangible impact. Digital ways of doing things tend to be more efficient than relying on older physical systems.

But this is true in the care sector, where the technology of pen and paper continues to play a critical role.

Paper care records - compiled in the care provider’s head office and usually stored in a folder - are delivered to the home of the person receiving care. They’re updated by hand on every visit by the carer. They need to be ferried back and forth from head office to home as they contain crucial and constantly evolving information about the details of care and the wellbeing of the person being cared for. Finally, when home care comes to an end, they’re collected before being taken back to head office for checking and archiving.

The logistics and handling takes time, and time is money. What’s more, the information sitting in those folders is by no means readily available to everyone who could use it - from hospitals to relatives to local health agencies. And when it is available it’s almost certainly out of date.

However, there are a number of excellent reasons why - until recently - pen and paper has been the right tool:

  • The CQC (Care Quality Commission) requires care to be ‘person-centred’. This involves the person being cared for having ready access to their care record and playing as active a role in their health and wellbeing. The simplest way of doing this is to keep the care folder in the person’s home and, sometimes, technology can actually leave the individual with less information.

  • The care record also has to be accessible to the person receiving care, who may have impaired vision. Paper records have the virtue of being physically easy to pick up, to flick through and move to the most legible distance.

  • Paper records are a technology that’s familiar to everyone, a known quantity. From childhood, we’ve all grown up with pen and paper. Digital technologies, on the other hand, are relatively new and may feel quite alien to some older people who haven’t been exposed to them.

I think everyone would agree that enabling people to read and understand what’s going on in their care is vital. We all like to be in the picture, especially when it concerns such an intimate and important process as our own care.

This, then, is the backdrop to the persistence of pen and paper. However, is there a way to maintain these advantages whilst also reaping the benefits of digital technology?

Having a record that is easily accessed from the person’s home is key. It needs to be available 24/7, easy to use and as familiar in format as possible. At the same time, it needs to be easy to update for the carer with data that can be updated in real time and be accessed by those who need it from wherever they are.

The Konnektis tablet sits in the person’s home and has a large screen that is easy to read and interact with. It hosts care record software that has been co-designed with carers to be easy and intuitive to use and meets all accessibility requirements with respect to typeface, font size, colour and input method. And all the data is securely hosted in the cloud where it can be updated remotely and read wherever the authorised person is located.

In this way Konnektis uses both hardware and software to meet the requirements of all the different organisations and individuals involved in the complex system of home care. We enable person-centred care whilst capturing the cost and communications benefits of digital. We believe our integrated approach is the only way to enable more and higher quality care on today’s tight budgets.

Email me at mark@konnektis.com if you’d like to learn more. We are full of ideas about the potential for the Konnektis platform. We are also currently offering a free audit of your care process to identify efficiencies and opportunities.