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Improving carer retention with real-time information sharing

(Image credit: Image Credit: GaudiLab / Shutterstock)

A recent joint report by The Homecare Association and Aged UK warns that it is harder than ever to recruit and retain care staff. Brexit, compulsory Covid vaccinations, pandemic-related burnout and the prospect of better pay and career prospects working at supermarkets or elsewhere within the NHS are the driving factors behind the challenge.

In parallel, the appetite for adopting technology in home care has grown exponentially. For many care providers, it is becoming a differentiator in helping to attract carers into employment. By making it easier for carers to have comprehensive, up to date information about their service users and reducing the amount of paperwork that needs to be done, technology can improve the level of care for clients, give carers more time to care, and in turn result in greater job satisfaction for carers.

Digital home care management systems help home care agencies and the sector on the whole, but when it comes to real-time information sharing, this can be the difference between an agency thriving or struggling to meet changing client needs.

The state of the home care sector 

Carers have historically been poorly paid, offered unsociable working hours, and at times little recognition. When we consider the UKs aging population, and the reliance on carers during the Covid-19 pandemic to look after our elderly and vulnerable population, the current status quo of low pay and lack of recognition is still part of the carer recruitment and retention problem.. 

In addition to this, while the work these individuals do is in itself rewarding, their roles have traditionally been admin heavy, with necessary but lengthy processes for regulatory purposes. Agencies have often struggled to keep up with the demand for care alongside adequately resourcing their teams. Carer burnout is not unheard of given the nature of the job, which is obviously mentally and physically challenging. In order to support this, more can be done to improve the tools given to carers and to better acknowledge the work that they do. 

The government's recent care reforms are a step in the right direction. Health and social care must be brought under the same umbrella, each given adequate funding, and both health care and social care workers acknowledged for the work they do in supporting individuals in our communities. Part of these reforms needs to be a commitment to investment in technology that supports these teams, making their work more efficient, productive, and allowing carers to look after their clients. Correct and comprehensive information available to social and health care workers at the time that they are delivering care can improve the care they deliver, by allowing them to provide personalized care and achieve better outcomes for their clients. 

Communication and the care retention conundrum

In order to combat some of the issues around carer retention, technology in the care sector has come on leaps and bounds. In particular, it is supporting forward care planning by improving communication with care managers and emergency services, allowing carers to take a preventative approach. On top of this, improving carer and client communication through accessible online portals is easing the burden not just on the carer but on the NHS as well. 

Carers are able to input and access far more data via these online portals. So rather than rely on paper-based methods which fall prey to mistakes and individuals forgetting key information, carers, admin staff, clients, and their families can all be confident that the health and wellbeing of an individual is recorded accurately and is up to date by using digital solutions. This eases the burden on the NHS and emergency services as it enables carers to be more proactive, responding to issues at the first sign of change, rather than waiting until these issues require hospitalization. 

The idea of offering improved communication channels in an effort to improve carer retention might seem too simple, but what it enables is an instantaneous support system for carers and their clients, and contributes to individuals feeling less pressured and alone when out and about on client visits. Job satisfaction must be considered and improved for carers, and technology-based solutions are giving them access to information and allowing them to update tasks in real-time. 

The impact of saving time contributes to greater productivity and efficiency for carers. Ultimately, by easing the burden on carers, and enabling a ‘joined-up’ approach to care between the health and social care sectors, job satisfaction is increased.

The future of home care in 2022 and beyond

To improve retention in the home care sector, change must continue at a rapid rate. The role of technology in this will be crucial, as we now have the ability to empower carers in the long term, providing them with tools that help them plan better, stay informed, and offer improved patient care. 

The UK’s aging population must be a focus for the government who will be looking to lessen the burden on the NHS too. Driving technology advancements in this sector will help do this - by taking a preventative approach, issues can be dealt with before they become serious, and before clients need to be hospitalized. An example of this is the ability to record blood pressure and glucose readings accurately and digitally and is one such advancement that will help lessen this burden. Digital records are more easily accessible and further data analysis can be done on these records, leading to trend analysis and preventative care solutions.

By offering carers such smart technology, they are able to focus on the long-term health goals of their clients through proactive monitoring and management. In turn this will lead to greater satisfaction as they see their decisions and actions improving the health of their client, easing the burden for families, and our healthcare system.

Josh Hough, MD and Founder, CareLineLive

Josh Hough became an entrepreneur early on – at the age of 13 he published a monthly magazine. Josh attended Tanbridge House School and then went on to study Law, Economics, Computing and Electronics at the College of Richard Collyer. At 18 years old, Josh started MAS Group and became the co-founder and MD of CareLineLive in 2016. In 2015, Josh won the Young Achiever award for Business Matters and was shortlisted for Forbes 30 under 30. In 2018, Josh completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Oxford University. Josh is now championing home care with CareLineLive, an award-winning software solution that helps home care agencies improve performance and provide better care.