Liverpool is leading the way in the use of smartphone technology to deliver and monitor better quality care in people’s homes.
The city is the first to introduce a digital system with almost all domiciliary care providers – giving instant information about 9,000 vulnerable residents to their families and healthcare professionals.
The use of an app allows care providers and families to see when a care visit is carried out by a care worker and for how long. This real-time visibility of care visits also shows the care duties performed, the outcomes met and how the person responded.
The effect is better-informed families and care managers – and more carefully monitored care that is centred on improving care outcomes for that person.
Liverpool is the only authority in Europe to be using the technology across the city, with all but one of its 18 domiciliary care providers using everyLIFE’s PASSsystem. It was made possible through a grant of one million Euros of European Union funding secured through the EU STOPandGO programme of which the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast, was a key partner.
Susan Brown, whose mother Beatrice is a homecare patient in Liverpool, uses openPASS, the family view of care notes recorded on the PASSsystem platform: "I use the openPASS daily. It gives me peace of mind as I can see instantly that mum is up, washed and dressed, has eaten her breakfast and taken her medication. I also know that she's had a chat with her carer and all is well. I can check the openPASS easily anytime, anywhere - I'm a big fan!"
Senior Carer Natalie Stewart said: “The best thing about the PASSsystem is everything’s immediately uploaded to the Cloud. You don’t have to worry about finding, completing and returning papers. It’s much quicker and much easier.”
Liverpool City Council Commissioning and Contract Manager Ann Williams said: “We know the technology is benefitting our most vulnerable residents; no longer do we find out late in the day that a carer was unable to visit or a resident wasn’t taking medication. We know immediately and then we can take action – and the family is reassured that the right care is being provided.”
All domiciliary care companies commissioned by the Council are inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and ratings have improved for those who have been inspected since the introduction of the PASSsystem.
The first company to use the system was Homecarers (Liverpool) Limited, which employs 300 staff and cares for 600-700 clients. Its service was rated ‘good’ by the CQC last year. The inspectors were especially impressed by the PASSsystem, commending it for being more transparent and improving patient safety.
The system gives care workers instant access to a patient’s care plan via their smartphones, allowing them to easily familiarise themselves with the personal needs of a patient before they visit. The app guides care workers through the essential tasks and medication that need to be addressed during the visit to meet the specific outcomes of the person. On completion of a visit the care worker’s notes, which are inputted via their smartphone, are immediately uploaded to the care management system and viewable by home care managers and clients’ families.
Their previous system relied on completing, collecting and processing assessment paperwork and medication records manually. Paperwork couldn’t be processed until it was returned to the office, sometimes a day or more after the visit – which could be critical if there were changes to medication or care plan tasks during this time. Completing and reviewing paperwork also took up carer workers’ time during visits, which typically last for half an hour.
Karen Caffrey of Homecarers (Liverpool) Limited said: “We’ve always been an innovative organisation and we’ve always wanted to continuously improve the quality of our care. We’d been saying to each other that taxi firms can send text messages to say a taxi’s coming, so why were we still in the Dark Ages?
“The PASSsystem has given us a detailed, more accessible care plan that prompts the carer to make it more person-centred. The carer is prompted to fill in the correct sections, and we have live information on the system right away.
“We’ve reduced the time carers spend assessing people, allowing them more time with the patient during their visit. Carers now have access to much more information about the client via their smartphones. Care plans can be changed as and when the patient’s needs change. It’s made an amazing difference in terms of efficiencies for our service and quality of care.”
Photo: Beatrice Murphy with Senior Carer Natalie Stewart