Home / Resources & Guidance / Digital tools: The Generic, the Bespoke and the Hybrids

It is a privilege to be able to talk to so many providers who have coped with the massive strain over the past 9 months. The ways people have found to cope have often caused me to cry and sometimes to laugh with genuine mirth.
In our sector, I split tech initiatives into 3 basic types:
• those which are in general use;
• those which are produced specifically for the care sector; and
• those which are hybrids.

Generic tools adapted for care
The use of Facebook, WhatsApp and other tools is something we might have expected … but the use of TikTok to get essential messages across has been heart-warming. It’s not all been serious though – check out Westhill Park care home in Kettering with its viral Tik Tok video showing residents dancing (over 100,000 likes on their most popular clip).

I was recently on a Care Home Management webinar with Jackie Macrae, manager of the Innis Mhor Care Home in Tain. She said that use of social media tools had helped the care home become an even more embedded part of the local community as well as linking it in more closely with families and friends of residents.

The bespoke
Remote monitoring systems have become common place and adaptations to make the systems suitable for care have made them even more accessible. I think that there is still not enough focus on how these systems can interoperate (if there is such a word) with other care systems. Too often, they are designed and implemented to serve NHS health services while the benefit case to care homes and home care agencies is often overlooked. Moreover, the fact that these systems require care operators to commit resources for training and operating the systems is also often ignored.

The hybrid
In this section I want to mention three new systems which have impressed me and which, I think, point the way to the future.

Care England member Oakwood Homes was forward thinking enough to accept the offer to work with Google on a Google Nests project. The Google Senior Living solution employs Nest Hub Max smart displays in Oakwood’s homes. The residents found them easy to use and quickly grew accustomed to them. Residents learnt how to easily video call who they wanted to with voice commands, which is especially helpful for those who struggle with buttons or with the intricacies of technology. For more details go to Oakland Care and Google Nest.

The second is the role out of 11,000 iPads by the NHSX. I am in the lucky position of running a weekly webinar for people getting these iPads. The initial feedback is that the curated MDM they are using has meant the digital world is opening up to many care homes. This is a great initiative. The work with Jigsaw24 to customise and adapt the iPads seems to be paying off, and the self-service app store is giving people access to vital tools.

The third hybrid is a curated eco system such as that created by GDS Digital. For those who need help and guidance with digital, GDS Digital has created a platform which allows people in West Wales to access services during the Covid-19 lockdown. Working with Delta Wellbeing in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, the secure connectivity and tablet devices include a curated platform with access to tailored apps such as WhatsApp for family contact to video consultations with health and care professionals. Setting up a curated system like this means that the burden of setting up the structures has been taken off the care providers allowing them to focus on the care. Curated systems like this might be the key to making integrated care and health systems and remote monitoring a reality for everyone in care.

What does this mean for our future?
The role of digital transformation specialists in the care sector will be to adapt the generic, the bespoke and the hybrid to build an integrated solution for you and for the people you support, interoperating, where possible, with other health and care systems. The skill in joining those systems is one we need to develop in our sector to create the best quality of life we can for the people we support.

Daniel Casson
Adviser on digital transformation to Care England www.careengland.org.uk/digitalblog
Executive of Digital Social Care www.digitalsocialcare.co.uk
Casson Consulting: Digital Transformation in Social Care
Adviser to GDS Digital https://gdsdigital.com/
Governor the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Trust https://alderhey.nhs.uk/
@CareEngDigital @DigiSocialCare
Daniel Casson _ LinkedIn