Northern Ireland care homes adopt tech to manage Covid
Care homes in Northern Ireland are adopting new digital technology to help support staff through a second wave of Covid-19 this autumn and winter.
Digital Health and Care Northern Ireland (DHCNI), led by the Government's Department of Health, has partnered with Health and Social Care Trusts across Northern Ireland to develop digital technology that will support staff by providing an overview of the health status of their residents.
The new service - currently being piloted - aims to help care workers identify residents at risk and who may need to be assessed by a registered nurse or doctor.
To do this care workers complete a daily questionnaire with residents adding any symptoms associated with COVID-19. The answers are then fed into an app which sends the data to community-based health care teams, such as district nurses and home nursing teams.
If any responses fall out of the range set for the resident, clinicians are alerted so they can intervene in their care with appropriate support.
The service is being provided by Inhealthcare, a digital healthcare company that creates remote patient monitoring solutions, among others.
It has so far been tested in a small number of care homes with approximately 45 residents being monitored daily. Findings from the pilot will allow practitioners to look at how this digital healthcare intervention could play a part in supporting care homes in the longer term.
So far it's been showing benefis in providing additional training for care home staff to monitor residents for any signs of deterioration. Claire Büchner, Assistant Director from DHCNI, said: “This is a proactive and anticipatory approach to supporting care homes and should certainly be considered as part of a care pathway. It will provide assurance to residents and their relatives that care workers are being supported by health professionals."
“It is evident that care home staff knew their residents very well and were aware of subtle changes in their behaviour indicating the early onset of signs of illness" she added.
As the pilot projects began, Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, Professor Charlotte McArdle said: “I am very supportive of this important piece of work and how it is developing. It will be reassuring to residents and relatives that a timely response to healthcare needs will be available.
“Combining the ability to record observations through a digital platform with responsive clinical nursing assessment will add a new dimension to the provision of nursing care and treatment available to residents who develop healthcare needs in residential care homes.”