According to CQC technology is changing the way people provide care and treatment. It suggests that there are huge benefits to be gained for people who use services, families, carers and providers. But it’s important technology and innovation never come at the expense of high-quality, person-centred care.
Benefits of technology in care
- give people more control over their health, safety and wellbeing
- support them to be more independent or feel less isolated
- link them to services which are important for them
- enhance the care or treatment providers offer
- help them communicate with families, professionals and staff
- help staff to prioritise and focus their attention on people who need it most
- capture and compare data and share good practice with peers.
If providers are to make the best use of technology then people’s safety, dignity and consent must be at the centre of decisions about their care. This applies to decisions about the use of new technology. Being clear about people’s rights, privacy and choice must always come first.
Questions to ask before using technology
CQC ask providers to consider the following question if they are thinking about using technology to deliver care.
- How will you involve people who use your service in your plans and putting the new technology into use?
- What do the people it will affect need to know to make an informed choice? Do they fully understand the implications of the new technology?
- Who will the technology affect and how will it affect them?
- What outcome do you want to achieve? How will you measure it?
- Will the technology fully meet the needs of the people using your service? If not, what else do you need to provide?
- Are there more appropriate ways to meet these needs?
- What are the practical and legal issues you need to think about before you introduce new technology?
- What are the risks and how will you manage them? Particularly during transition and early implementation of the technology or system. What is your contingency plan to keep people safe?
- How have you involved your staff? What information and training do they need so they can be confident and competent? This includes understanding their responsibilities and how to respond to associated risks.
When CQC inspect and monitor health and social care services, there are five key questions they ask. The following examples illustrate how technology can support good and outstanding person-centred care.
Helping ensure key information is accurate and easy to share with caring professionals in real time
Supporting effective communication and more efficient use of resources, including finances
Supporting person-centred care and helping staff to spend more time on the things that really matter
Responsive to people’s needs
Supporting providers to be more proactive and responsive to changing needs by helping to identify developing risks or needs more quickly
Supporting more effective quality assurance through more effective communication, information sharing and improved data analysis.
Bettal Quality Consultancy
Here at Bettal we have recognised the contribution that technology can make to high quality social care services. We have developed a digital audit tool to measure a services performance against the key Lines of Enquiry. Next year we will be launching our new digital person centred plan and digital risk assessment tool.
For further information on Bettal products please visit our Care Service Products section.
CQC have recognised that technology has an important part to play in social care services. We are only at the beginning of a journey that will see far greater use of technology in the future. The benefits to service users and staff are there for all to see, and I have no doubt that in time you will see less time spent with onsite inspection. The creation of digital routs which will allow inspectors to measure social care services performance off site. This will lead to a further reduction in the number of inspectors.
However, it still needs to be repeated that technology should not be viewed as a substitute for staff time spent with service users, but rather a supportive mechanism that allows more time to be spent with them.
Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute
Bettal Quality Consultancy