Pilot scheme improves health outcomes for care homes

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Residents in care homes across south east Essex are benefiting from a one year pilot scheme, which uses health technology to monitor, record and assess, the health and wellbeing of care home residents.

Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has commissioned the Microtech Group to provide telehealth equipment for 12 months, in 18 residential care homes in Southend.  The aim is to improve health outcomes for residents, by completing regular health tests which are triaged by Microtech nurses.

The device is a portable handheld tablet which connects to Bluetooth medical devices, comprising of weighing scales, blood pressure monitor, oximeter/pulse and thermometer. It enables care home staff to take and record test readings electronically rather than on paper.  This is a far more efficient method of recording and monitoring the patients’ health data.

This data can also be shared securely with other healthcare professionals involved in the residents’ care such as, the GP or another relevant health service involved in the residents’ care, such as the out of hours GP service or NHS 111 should a resident fall ill during the night, or over the weekend.

If the technology gives a reading outside of the expected thresholds given for that particular resident, an alert will automatically be raised on the system.  Microtech nurses will notify care home staff, to identify when an individual may start to show signs of becoming unwell.  This allows healthcare professionals to intervene at a much earlier stage, lowering the risk of a resident becoming so unwell that they require hospital treatment.

For example an increase in temperature can indicate the start of an infection, but the technology being used will enable this to be identified earlier; which is particularly useful for care home residents with dementia, who may be unable to describe their symptoms clearly.

Mrs R Hart, Manager of Manor Rest Care Home, Westcliff-on-Sea, said:

“We are very pleased to have been involved in this pilot scheme, which has proved to be a valuable asset for our care home.

We have already seen some early benefits and positive outcomes, such as a resident who was monitored by the technology was able to have their hypertension medication stopped after the recorded readings had been assessed.

It has also provided our care home staff with the ability to monitor and detect healthcare concerns about a resident at an earlier stage, so that quicker health interventions or treatment can be provided resulting in better health outcomes.

An additional benefit we have discovered is the added value it has given for families and carers of residents who are delighted we have taken part in this pilot, as it means their loved ones health is being regularly monitored and assessed. This provides families with confidence and reassurance about the quality and safety of the care being provided.”

Tricia D’Orsi, Chief Nurse at Southend CCG and Castle Point and Rochford CCG and Executive lead for telehealth projects, said:

“This type of technology represents a closer way of working between health and care homes. The pilot scheme has already demonstrated positive benefits for residents, care home staff and GPs.

Doctors spend a high proportion of their time caring for groups of elderly and frail and in some cases a patient’s symptoms will settle within a few hours with the appropriate medication or care, from the GP. 

The summary clinical record produced by this technology can be shared securely with other healthcare professionals and it can be used to tailor the care to the residents’ own specific health need.

The pilot has provided the potential to significantly reduce the number of ambulance call outs or hospital admissions for elderly residents, allowing them to be assessed and treated where they live. At the same time, it will also assist to reduce the pressures on primary, community and secondary health care services.

Due to the success of this pilot scheme, we are now looking at a future pilot for Skype between care homes and GP practices.  This will support remote consultations to care homes, reduce the amount of GP visits and will support GPs in making informed clinical decisions remotely.”