Social care is on its knees, according to recent public satisfaction reports [1]. The Good Care Guide’s latest evaluation of reviews states that home care services are in a ‘dire state’. It cites short visits and ‘missed and late appointments’ by many staff looking after vulnerable older people as the cause for plummeting levels of satisfaction. Social care is a big industry. The UK Home Care Association estimates that nearly 900,000 people received home care in 2013/14 – a number that is set to rise as the number of older people living alone increases.[2] According to the latest Laing and Buisson survey, there are 426,000 elderly and disabled people in residential care (including nursing), approximately 405,000 of whom are aged 65+.[3]

A unique new app may provide the answer to a transformational uplift in quality and efficiency of care. Launched by everyLIFE Technologies, ‘openPASS’ (patent pending) is an app that enables a person’s up-to-date care record to be viewed in real time in their home or remotely. This can be done at any time, via a smart phone or tablet, by all the people involved in their care, including health professionals and their families. This is an important first step in uniting health and social care intelligently, providing up-to-date information on length of care visits, and missed and late appointments.
Which is what people want, according to new online YouGov research, commissioned by everyLIFE Technologies to mark the launch of openPASS. . Fieldwork was undertaken between 11 – 12 February 2016 and a survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). 2,083 adults were asked what would help them know a relative is safely cared for at home or in a residential care home:

  • 70% said regular updates on their relatives’s care
  • 68% said having one person (eg, one care worker) as the recognised point of contact for their relative’s care information
  • 65% said having regular medicines reviews to ensure medicines are being taken correctly
  • 61% said being able to view their relative’s social care plan and social care record whenever they wanted to
  • Only half (50%) said having no time limits on appointments between their relative and carer

They were also asked who they thought should be able to view their relative’s social care record whenever they wish:

  • 84% said their GP
  • 74% said clinical hospital staff
  • 61% said community nurses
  • 60% said family members
  • 58% said paramedics

Paul Barry, chief executive, everyLIFE Technologies said: “Everyone gets anxious when a family member needs social care, but what’s interesting is that being out of the loop concerns people more than short care visits. Now that most people have smart phones, a simple app like openPASS, which connects to a platform recording their relative’s or patient’s information in real time, means they can now see what’s going on at any time, wherever they are. Missed or late appointments can be noted immediately, giving greater control over a loved one’s care.”

Dr Michael Dixon OBE, a Devon GP, and chair of everyLIFE’s professional advisory group, said: “We talk endlessly about patient-centred care, but the reality is that we are far from delivering it. Records are not joined up, and people receiving care from different professionals find themselves giving the same information over and over again, which can be challenging for many elderly people. I believe openPASS will mark a step change in how we deliver care.

For me, it’s about transparency and visibility. The ability for families and health professionals to view their relative’s or patient’s care records whenever they want is an obvious step forward to improving quality. It simply makes sense and often it’s the simplest steps that make the greatest difference.”

Professor Rob Darracott, chief executive, Pharmacy Voice, which represents community pharmacy, said: “‘openPASS is a great example of how technology can enhance patient care. Crucially, this technology pays as much attention to data security as it does to data sharing – providing the confidence needed to make this time-saving tool a success. By opening up patient data in a highly secure way, such as making social and summary care records available to community pharmacists, healthcare can be truly joined-up – while reducing red tape for clinicians. The role of openPASS in medicines management could also be crucial. There are many good reasons why older people may have to take a number of medicines concurrently, but it is neither good for them, nor for the wider NHS, if they are taking too many, especially if some are no longer effective, or if they are no longer taken as prescribed. openPASS has huge potential to stay on top of this.”

Paul Barry founded everyLIFE Technologies in 2015 based on his own experience of running a home care provider. “Balancing quality with efficiency was what kept me awake at night. My first challenge was the endless, time consuming paperwork, which took valuable time away from front line care and also meant unacceptable time delays in monitoring care, which is why we first developed a platform to record and monitor information in real time and why more than 200 home care agencies and 10 residential care homes are now actively using the PASSsystem. The second challenge was how to deliver consistent quality of care, and keep people’s families, and the health professionals involved in their care, fully up-to-date. openPASS, is our response to that.”

 

[1] http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/files/kf/BSA-public-satisfaction-NHS-Kings-Fund-2015.pdf

[2] http://www.ukhca.co.uk/(S(qoday452pflmljtta1fwkehz))/pdfs/DomiciliaryCareMarketOverview2015.pdf

[3] Care of Elderly People Market Survey 2013/14, Laing and Buisson, 2014