With the Department of Health and Social Care’s aim that at least 80% of social care providers are using a digital care record by March 2024 that can connect to a shared care record, care providers need to serious consider digital care management software now.
In this blog we will consider some of the things that managers and providers should be looking for in digital care management software as we approach the 2024 deadline. With lots of choice out there, it is hard to know where to start and what to look for. This paper aims to help providers ask the right questions when looking digital care management software.
Does it have what I need?
Managers considering digital care management software, need to spend some time thinking about what they want to get from it. One way to start is to look at some of the websites of the digital care management software providers and see what modules they offer and understand some of the functionality of the various systems.
What you might be looking for will vary from provider to provider and will depend on things like what the service does, its size and what you want to achieve by going digital. A care home provider, for example might be happy with a digital care management software system for care planning which easily identifies the interventions staff need to undertake and the times of day these interventions need to be done.
A domiciliary care provider might want the same things but may also be looking for a system which registers the arrival and departure time of staff.
The Care Quality Commission, https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/healthcare/effective-good, ask in their Key Lines of Enquiry (KLoEs) under the key question effective (E1.3):
Managers considering the adoption of digital care management software should therefore consider asking this question of the software provider and think about the impact the software might have on their businesses effectiveness.
All digital care management software has the potential to contribute to the effectiveness of a service depending on how it is used, for example getting people involved in their own care planning, and as care is does, https://www.careis.net/features/, enabling people, or those important to them, to access their own care plans at any time on line.
As well as care planning, which we look at in some detail later down in this post, digital care management software can offer a number of other options, applications (apps), all of which are designed to help make the job of managing and recording care provision easier. For example:
- Audit modules (covering clinical, equipment and building audits).
- Inspection recording modules.
- Policy modules, many of which cover all of the policies required to run a social care business (and the subject of a subsequent paper).
- Training – including mandatory training, some with integrated trackers to add with compliance and save the manager and administrator time in compiling these.
- Electronic supervision and appraisals, some with integrated trackers to add with compliance.
- Electronic medication administration records (eMAR).
- Accident and incident reporting.
- Management reports dashboards.
Let’s face it who likes to spend up to a day or two a month updating their policies only to find they are not compliant when the CQC come to do an inspection.
There are lots of good reasons therefore to buy a policy suite alongside the digital care management software system, https://www.careis.net/good-reasons-to-buy-care-policies-2023/, not only does this save time, but it improves compliance because digital policy suites can show who has read what policy and when.
Some digital care management software providers also provide back office functions such as time and attendance modules making the role of the manager easier especially for smaller providers. While one should question if it is right to have all of ones digital care management software provision form one supplier, there is the converse argument that it does mean the system become intuitive, some elements of it will speak to each other and things like report building often become easier.
That said, some providers may want to continue with their existing training or policy providers because they like what they offer, or because they have a long contract. Some managers, depending on the services they run, will want different things and different combinations of things, so it is worth being aware of what comes as standard and what providers allow managers to pick and choose different modules.
It is also important for the manager to be able to try products and not be tied into long contracts or contracts with difficult get out clauses. it is worth considering this when looking at digital care management software, because being ties into a system you decide you don’t like can be draining.
Managers need therefore to think about what they need versus what they want while also considering their budget It is worth considering how the different needs off the service fit together as well as what is on offer. While some digital care management software includes all of the above in one package, some modules may not be wanted or needed and therefore it is possible the manager will be paying for things they will never use.
Is it person-centred?
One of the questions seen commonly on managers forums and asked of digital care management software providers is “does anyone have a specimen care plan for….?”. Any care planning platform which does cannot claim to support person-centred care planning and should be avoided.
Care planning platforms must be able to support the people using it to assess the needs of their service users, plan their care and evaluate the care given recognising the individuality of each service user. Managers should look for digital care management software which enable them to do this is a structured and thoughtful way while enabling service users and their loved ones to become involved in the process.
The digital care management software must support care planning which is as unique as each service user is, https://www.scie.org.uk/mca/practice/care-planning/person-centred-care.
The best digital care management software providers have a mechanism whereby care plans can, with the right consents, be shared with family or legal representatives, which suggest the service has nothing to hide and is safe, caring, responsive and effective.
Is it designed for my service?
You would be forgiven for thinking we answered this question above, however this is a different one. One feature of some digital care management software providers is that the people who design and run them are themselves involved in care, while other systems are designed, run and sold by technical consultants and salespeople. Again this comes down to personal preference and what exactly the manager will be happy with.
With small and medium sized companies the interface is often with people who have experience of care and can talk the manager through care issues as well as how to introduce the system to their service. This is a real issues as choosing a digital care management software system is only step one in the process of going digital, care providers need also to consider the need for change management – which we will discuss some time later
With larger digital care management software providers the service may be less personal, but some managers will feel safer that they are with large organisation, which they may feel offers a layer of protection to their business and the product they are investing in. While small and medium providers may not have a huge technical team to fall back on, they can be very responsive to users needs.
Does it do adequate reports?
This is often a question posed by bigger organisations, but not so often by registered managers or senior care staff – although it should be. Report facilities in many digital care management software services enable managers to overview what is happening in their services without the need to drill down into the finer detail.
While other aspects of reporting might, for example enable the registered manager to see at a glance whether all of the service users have received their planned care, that day or when the next medication audit is due.
Reporting within digital care management software services’ is all too often overlooked as people used to working on paper are not used to seeing it let alone understanding its advantages The main advantage of digital care management software-based reporting is that the report is collated and presented for management scrutiny by the system saving hours of administration and management time.
As well as being available for management, reports are useful for demonstrating compliance to regulatory inspectors who frequently comment positively about such features in their reports.
The sort of reporting managers should be looking for might include things like the number of incidents and accidents within a service as well as issues like falls, participation in activities, occupancy, enquiries and safeguarding events. Digital reporting in this way can be used to generate monitoring dashboards which serve the needs of providers, directors and trustees as well as managers and regulators.
What’s the onboarding process like?
Let’s be clear, the process of moving to digital care management software, be that from paper or from another digital system, is going to be painful, as any change is. How painful will depend on the nature of the user support available to new users and the on-boarding process.
No digital care management software is going to be configured and ready for use in the way in which any service would want it to be, rather, there is a process to go through and a period during which the system needs to be leant and configured to suit the needs of any individual service.
The better providers will be clear about the support available to customers at the point of onboarding. It is perhaps at this point the value of going either with a big tech company or a smaller care provider becomes apparent and is why managers need to think about what skills they have available in house and what skills they are going to need to draw on from their digital care management software provider.
What is the customer service like?
This is all to often the point at which digital care management software providers fall down. They get the customer and then can’t be bothered to put the effort in to keep them. This is evident on many forums where managers discuss digital care management software providers who:
- don’t answer support requests
- require more money for training
- won’t amend the software even if the request is reasonable
- don’t have a relationship with the customer
At this point it is worth doing the home work because the fustration of both having poor service and a long contract is not going to go away easily.
Are they NHSX accredited?
Increasingly digital care management software providers are becoming NHSX accredited as identified in the NHSX delivery plan (https://www.nhsx.nhs.uk/digitise-connect-transform/nhsx-delivery-plan/). This means they have proven that their product meets the standards required by the NHS to say they are safe and compliant with all current digital standards.
Notably this is a new accreditation and many small providers, who meet the criteria, are having to work hard to produce the evidence to demonstrate they do, while bigger supplier have been involved in creating the process and can throw money at it.
As things stand at present, managers undertaking due diligence, should ask the question of a potential provider as to whether they are working towards accreditation, anywhere that is not may prove to be a bad investment in the medium to long-term.
In this blog we have identified many of the things a manager should look for when choosing a digital care management software provider. There is no one-size-fits-all to this process and managers need to put the homework in before buying a digital care management software system for their service. this means scouting the internet, looking in the care manager forums and asking to demos, https://www.careis.net/book-a-remote-demo/.
Make the right choice and you will be as happy as a bee in clover.