Health technology improves outcomes for care home residents

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Care home residents in Southend are benefitting from new technology, supplied by the local NHS, that means care home staff can play a key role monitoring the health of residents to improve health outcomes and reduce avoidable and distressing trips to hospital.

The health technology has been commissioned by Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as a pilot scheme, for a 12 month period. The scheme is currently running across eighteen residential care homes in Southend.

The health technology consists of a portable handheld device that connects to Bluetooth medical appliances, such as weighing scales, blood pressure monitors, oximeters and thermometers, it enables care home staff to record and monitor a resident’s key health indicators easily and more efficiently. If health data readings are outside of the usual parameters set for a particular resident, an alert will automatically be raised on the system. The findings will then be clinically triaged by an experienced team of nurses.

Care home staff are then advised on the best action to take. This enables healthcare professionals to intervene at a much earlier stage and it lowers the risk of them becoming so unwell, they require a hospital admission.

For example, if a reading shows an increase in a resident’s temperature it can indicate the start of an infection, but this health technology can provide a much earlier identification of potential health issues; this is particularly helpful for residents with dementia who may not be able to describe their symptoms clearly.

The health data collected for each resident can also be shared securely with other healthcare professionals involved in the residents’ care, such as the Out of Hours GP service or NHS 111. This is very useful should a resident fall ill during the night or over a weekend.

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 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, said:

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

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

It also has the potential to significantly reduce the number of ambulance call outs and hospital admissions and at the same time will reduce pressures on primary, community and secondary care services; as it allows elderly residents to be assessed and treated where they live, instead of having to visit the GP or a hospital.

An additional benefit is that it provides families of care home residents with the reassurance and confidence that their loved ones health is being regularly assessed and monitored to ensure any potential health risks can be identified much earlier.”

Due to the success of the pilot scheme Southend Clinical Commissioning Group is now looking at a future pilot for Skype between care homes and GP practices. This will support remote consultations by allowing GPs to make informed clinical decisions remotely, which should reduce the number of GP visits required each year.