The future of technology in residential care

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Written by Neil McManus, GHM Communications According to recent research, care homes can achieve an average net benefit of up to £15,000 per full...

Written by Neil McManus, GHM Communications

According to recent research, care homes can achieve an average net benefit of up to £15,000 per full time equivalent each year by deploying new technologies and the development of Wi-Fi technology is great news for any care home looking for cost effective solutions that can be introduced on a very gradual basis.

The implementation of a secure integrated Wi-Fi network should be top of the shopping list for care home executives. This will then act as a metaphorical coat stand on which you can then start to hang various technology solutions that deliver huge benefits to residents, staff and visitors.

In terms of improving staff mobility, a Wi-Fi network can facilitate the introduction of remote handsets so staff can be contacted anywhere in the home and make emergency calls without returning to a fixed line. Real time resident tracking and CCTV are two other technologies that we at GHM have notices is growing in popularity with care homes.

A key advancement in care home technology however, utilising the Wi-Fi network, is a brand new product that integrates a Patient Record system and Nurse Call alarm system onto a tablet device. GHM Communications has spent the past 18 months developing the system with the Samsung Electrics Research Institute and nurse call experts Courtney Thorne and the innovative ‘Samsung Care’ product has just been released on to the market.

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Carers are able to access patient records and information on a wireless tablet at the point of care. Any nurse call alerts will also be sent to the tablet and the relevant information for that patient such as medication, history and relatives contact details will be immediately shown. This integrated solution reduces the number of devices that a carer needs to carry while greatly increasing the information available at a touch of a button.

 “This is the first time there has been a true convergence of all patient information to a single device at the point of care. The technology is years ahead of anything already on the market,” said Graham Vickrage of Courtney Thorne.

GHM Communications has also launched a new warden call system for care villages and residential properties. The alarm operates entirely wirelessly and can notify a series of respondents such as a wardens’ smartphone or a call centre. It allows a two way conversation and features trip alarms and motion sensors, plus a single button to call family members.

The cost of implementing a Wi-Fi network and then integrating solutions such as these will be significantly less than introducing them on a standalone basis. Their introduction can also be phased, spreading the cost over a period of time.

Savings can be made immediately such as the removal of redundant land telephone lines and expensive line rental. This can equate up to £1,000 per 20 bedded care home per annum.

Additional ‘hotel style’ services can also be made available to residents. Wi-Fi, flexible telephone rental, cheaper calls and pay TV will be sure to set you apart from your competitors and allow you to offer the same level of luxury as the big boys. The key thing here is that these services are unlikely to cost you anything extra on top of your WIFI network and so they can either be offered free of charge or as an additional revenue stream. One of our customers is generating an additional £500 in revenue each month since they installed their Wi-Fi network just 24 months ago.

Eastleigh Care Homes, in England, UK, is using the new integrated patient record and nurse call solution in their brand new purpose built home, which opened in January 2012. “It’s fantastic that a global brand such as Samsung is investing so much in the UK care market,” notes Kirstie Barnes, HR Business Partner. The care sector is evolving so quickly at the moment, particularly under the current personalisation agenda, that to have such renowned technology developed specifically for our needs is very well received.

“The actual system has some great features that really deal with the complexities of care planning,” adds Barnes.

Meanwhile, Garry Wilson, the Managing Director of Eastleigh Care Homes says: “The ability to offer our staff state of the art IT equipment with the portability and touch screen technology of the tablets is fantastic. The hardware will allow us to increase the quality of care we can provide our residents by reducing time spent at a static terminal. We anticipate productivity and cost savings with immediate entry of care notes and also enhanced personalisation of care notes; as they are recorded at the time with the resident and not retrospectively.”

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