Research from the Centre for Ageing Better shows 80% of people want to age at home. Home care lets us safely maintain independence and freedom, while providing comfort and familiarity. All of that is not just crucial for the care recipient’s wellbeing, but for their loved ones’ peace-of-mind as well.
Yet, the adult social care sector is currently experiencing chronic staff shortages. It’s severely underfunded and has lagged behind on crucial innovations. All of these factors are heavily impacting care businesses and care professionals' ability to provide the support they are capable of to older adults in our society. However, we have seen that technology can give more people the option to age safely and happily in their own home. One example is birdie.
Healthcare designed to support older adults at home
Max Parmentier is the CEO and co-founder of birdie, a personalised home healthcare tech company aiming to reinvent care at home, radically improving the lives of millions of older adults. The company helps care businesses digitise their operations, meet regulatory standards, grow sustainably and help care professionals provide the highest standard of care.
As CEO, Parmentier’s role is to set the strategic direction and vision for the future of birdie and to foster an environment where the team can thrive and create meaningful change in the social care sector.
“birdie’s software is a digital toolkit for homecare businesses,” he explains. “With everything on one platform, they spend less time on admin and more time delivering outstanding care. The birdie toolkit is a desktop and mobile app, easy to learn and intuitive to use. Everything is instantly available at their team’s fingertips. Tasks are made more efficient, reducing the time spent on administration. These efficiencies are crucial in providing personalised care tailored to individual needs and preferences. By ensuring care is always bespoke to each individual, care recipients benefit from the highest standard of care.”
Prior to founding birdie, Parmentier started a global e-marketplace spin-off from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This was funded and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He also worked at the UN and in small startups, and spent four years at McKinsey as a manager helping clients develop their climate change mitigation, deforestation and bio-energy strategies.
“When I was younger, I had the privilege to spend a lot of quality time with my grandparents,” Parmentier says. “Nourished by their care and conversation, I felt first hand the security and significance that a connection to the older generation can bring. This, alongside watching the sharp decline of my grandfather after entering a care home, was at the heart of creating birdie.”
Along with co-founders Rajiv Tanna (Chief Product Officer), Gwen Le Calvez (Chief information Security Officer) and Abeed Mohamed (Chief Strategy Officer), the team set out to empower high-quality, personalised and improved outcome-driven healthcare for millions of older adults at home.
“Social care is an industry in desperate need of support – and the technology we’re building is already helping thousands of older adults thrive at home, just how I would have wanted it to be for my own grandparents,” says Parmentier.
Home care technology in healthcare
Parmentier believes that the social care crisis and the healthcare industry quandary are intrinsically linked.
“The slightest spike in demand on either side will cause systemic pressure which has a knock-on effect on A&E services, care providers, and the rest of the population. Homecare, especially when personalised to the needs of the care recipients, can alleviate this pressure. By identifying and treating needs early, personalised homecare prevents unnecessary hospitalisations and enables people to recuperate at home.”
This is where birdie’s technology comes in. Its digital platform helps care professionals understand care recipients’ needs efficiently to deliver personalised care during each visit. It then allows them to store and access data easily, quickly and in-line with regulation, putting an end to gathering information from multiple systems.
“Once stored, algorithms supported by AI have the potential to analyse the clinical and behavioural data, offering personalised recommendations and a move towards more proactive and preventative care,” says Parmentier. “When shared with health providers, this data has the power to dramatically shift the treatment paradigm of older adults. It helps accelerate intervention cycles and prevents early deterioration, as well as encouraging collaboration between health and social care professionals to work towards achieving better outcomes for older adults.”
Ultimately, technology helps care businesses do more with less, increasing their capacity to care for more people.
“By providing transparency over requirements and gaps, technology can aid efficient care planning,” Parmentier adds. “By optimising care schedules to decrease travel time, software and automation help ensure limited resources are being used effectively.”
Digital onboarding streamlines the process, meaning newly qualified professionals can deliver quality care more quickly whilst being supported by digital training. By enabling care professionals to take notes digitally and automating some administrative tasks, care professionals will also spend less time on paperwork and more time caring for people.
“By digitally collecting and analysing data, care professionals access deeper insights into the wellbeing of care recipients and start to uncover patterns to support early interventions and prevent deterioration,” explains Parmentier. “By empowering care professionals with these insights, the care sector can reduce severe deterioration and systemic pressure on healthcare resources, expanding capacity and giving more people access to home care.”
However, Parmentier recognises that, due to the tough economic climate, home care businesses may struggle to grow.
“It’s no secret that unfortunately care businesses are struggling to survive in today’s climate,” he says. “Working with care partners on a regular basis has shown me that, for those wanting to grow their businesses, they should consider three things:
“Take stock of all processes that are currently happening within your care agency and look for opportunities to streamline these processes – perhaps by using digital tools for automation or clarifying priorities.”
Focusing on staff retention
“Low wages are a key contributor to high staff turnover rates, with many care professionals on zero-hours contracts. Creating an environment where employees have control over their own time and are able to collaborate with others will not only increase staff satisfaction, but also help attract new talent to the sector.”
Moving towards personalised care
“Empowering care professionals with more information about care recipients will not only create better health outcomes, but contribute to the longevity of clients too.”
By 2030, the World Health Organization believes that one in six people globally will be over the age of 60 - it’s time for home healthcare technology to get to work.
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