The Digital Care Home project is enabling care home staff to use existing equipment to record routine monitoring information for residents electronically and communicate with community nursing teams or local GPs to identify the best course of action if there are early signs of patient deterioration.
Care home staff use the digital care home service by logging into a portal using a desktop or logging into the secure Inhealthcare smartphone app on a tablet device. The data integrates directly into clinical systems including SystmOne and EMIS Web, meaning it can be accessed by NHS teams remotely.
Depending on agreed frequency of observations, the designated care home contact receives an email outlining the tasks to complete in a specified period and readings are collected by care home staff as part of their daily routine. The information recorded includes respiration rate; oxygen saturation; temperature, blood pressure; heart rate and level of consciousness. Readings are then sent to a clinical hub to be assessed.
Care responses are coordinated by a centralised Single Point of Access (SPA) team, who are aided by a clinical support framework and review of recent monitoring information. The service acts as an early warning system, highlighting changes in health which may otherwise go unnoticed.
Why are we doing this?
Around 4% of the total UK population live in residential or care homes (Bupa, 2017) which play a vital role in responding to the needs of a growing ageing population.
In Sheffield in 2016/17 there were around 3,000 attendances to Accident & Emergency from care home residents of which 40% were subsequently admitted to the hospital’s Frailty Unit.
The aim of the Digital Care Home project is to test and evaluate the impact of digital technology combined with integrated working of healthcare professionals to provide enhanced clinical interventions to care home residents, to reduce and prevent the risk of an emergency admission to hospital.
The Digital Care Home project is testing a new approach to support improving the quality of residents’ lives by keeping them well in their own home; to standardise monitoring of residents health and wellbeing across a selection of care homes; to prevent admissions to hospital through better access to support in the community.
Who’s involved in this project?
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (www.sth.nhs.uk/)
Lead Evaluation Partner: University of Sheffield – School of Health & Related Research (ScHARR) (www.sheffield.ac.uk/scharr)
Lead for Public Engagement: Healthwatch Sheffield (www.healthwatchsheffield.co.uk/)
Lead Innovator Partner: Inhealthcare (www.inhealthcare.co.uk )
Care Home Partners:
- Balmoral Care Home
- Moorend Place Care Home
- Chapel Lodge Care Home
- Haythorne Place Care Home
- Alexander Court Care Home
- Loxley Court Care Home
- Longley Park View Care Home
What happens next?
The first phase of the project saw 7 care homes testing the service from June 2017 to November 2018. In the second phase, the programme is recruiting further care homes to participate from June to October 2018. The evaluation report from the first phase of the project will be available in summer 2018.