Digitisation has fundamentally changed the way in which we live. Likewise, it has changed the way in which we work. Social Care, like all other sectors, is no exception to the wave of digital change. Below, we will explore how service providers can deal with the challenges and myths that the digital transformation journey towards adopting a digital way of working may present.
The Social Care Workforce has Poor Digital Skills – Myth or Fact?
People do not realise this often, or give themselves enough credit, but in reality, they have already adapted to the digital way of living and working.
For example, if you are reading this article right now, you have already successfully adopted a digital lifestyle. You are using the internet, on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, to read a written piece that was posted to a website. If you check daily headlines and news on your phone during your daily commute, or perhaps keep a to do list or set reminders of upcoming events on your mobile device, you have already adapted to digital. The very idea of being able to do all of this on a smartphone or another mobile device seemed impossible only a few short years ago. It’s not so long ago that we were not able to carry all of this information in our pockets wherever we went. In today’s world, people of all ages are digital adopters in some way.
Whilst the prospect of a Care Service Provider becoming reliant on software for care planning and management and moving from paper-based records to digital may frighten everyone involved in the process, it really shouldn’t. It is the equivalent of now reading the news from a screen as opposed to a newspaper, or that your upcoming meeting is now recorded within a digital calendar as opposed to a paper journal. Instead of receiving letters in the post, people are now sending emails as a faster, more cost-effective alternative. Information sharing has become faster and more accessible than ever before, whereas in the past all we were able to use was a paper-based system. It is now by default that we expect information to flow and communication to occur within a matter of a few days, as opposed to weeks in the past. In a care and support environment, we expect that all care and support related records are captured at the point of care, and are thus live and up to date for everyone involved in the person’s support.
Whether personally or professionally, it is a fact that you and everyone within your organisation has already adapted to and are navigating the digital way of life with relative ease. Then why do the Service Providers still face a challenge when they introduce their plans within their organisation to move away from paper-based systems to a digital way of working? We believe that it is not the digital skill of the workforce creating a roadblock for digitisation within your organisation, but rather the fear of the new and unknown.
New and Unknown means More Work – Myth or Fact?
Workplace culture can be particularly challenging when attempting to introduce big changes successfully, as oftentimes people within a workplace are reliant on the methods that they have become used accustomed to in helping them get their work done. However, by resisting change and rejecting alternative work methods, those people who are opposed to change are denying themselves new opportunities to work more effectively. The fear of the new and unknown has negative effects. With change people may also fear failure. Will they be able to use the new system that has been/will be introduced? These are all valid fears and emotions to be expected of your workforce. Your staff may feel that the predictability and routine nature of their daily processes has been taken away from them, and that they are being thrown in at the deep end to adapt with management’s new vision. It is that fear of the unknown, of failure, and of leaving the comfort zone, that can create resistance to change and an unwillingness to adapt.
Clear objectives, understanding of long-term goals, inclusive practices and transparent communication are the foundation blocks of a good workplace culture.
When this fear is addressed proactively, implementing digital change does not create more work. Instead, as often is the case, the tried and tested work processes are not being entirely swapped, but rather the known processes will be transferred from paper to digital. During this transfer process, it tends to happen by default that a lot of the things that can go wrong and cause the process to be clunky on paper are identified, and are thus removed to streamline the digital workflow. This means quite often that the element of data duplication is eliminated, which immediately creates savings in time for staff.
On the other hand, an argument may be made that learning a new digital system is a task that requires staff time, dedication, and other resources, and said IT skills may come up as a blocker or as an excuse. Below we will mention a few pointers on how to address these blockers internally and how to motivate staff to adapt to new ways of working.
The digital way of working has already been around for quite some time, and organisations across a variety of sectors have reported proof that digitisation has already created a more effective environment for communications, as well as for data accessibility and accuracy, all of which are massively important in a Social Care setting. Furthermore, by taking away all of the issues that a staff team may encounter in a paper-based system, it actually means less work for staff in the long term, in turn delivering more benefits for the people supported through a better, more person-centred support.
Staff Training drives the Quality of Work – Myth or Fact?
Providing training and development opportunities within an organisation should not simply be a tick-box exercise. Training and development opportunities can increase staff motivation, but most importantly training ensures improved productivity and quality of work. When staff know how to carry out their tasks as required, or how to use a system, they will also gain a boost in confidence. In turn, confidence in themselves and the work that they do eliminates the fear that can create resistance to change. Staff training, in other words knowledge and skills, supports cultural change. We are now seeing a direct correlation between different elements for a successful change implementation.
For Care and Support Service Providers particularly, we believe that Aspirico provides a good example of a training programme in helping organisations introduce a digital care management and planning system.
A part of every iplanit implementation story from the very start is that our team of experts will be on hand to help providers and their staff to transition away from using a paper-based system, streamline the processes and language that staff are familiar with into the iplanit software system, as well as help providers become an iplanit expert in no time! The Aspirico Client Management Team is comprised of people who have been on the service provider side, and they can offer guidance and expert advice based on decades of experience. On top of frequent meetings and the ability to come to your Client Manager with any questions that you may have, Aspirico offers several training resources in every possible medium to help system users become familiar with iplanit, as well as offering tailored content designed to enhance your iplanit skills, including knowledge-based quizzes.
Training and upskilling should not be a lonely journey.
To motivate staff to absorb the training of a new process or system, again, think and proactively address any potential personal fears. Perhaps someone is afraid that even upon completion of a training course, they will remain confused as to how to use an aspect of a system, so make sure that there are opportunities for everyone to ask questions during and after training. It’s always a good idea to identify those staff members who are more open to change and are enthusiastic about the new system – not only are they the perfect internal motivators, staff may also approach their immediate colleagues with greater ease to ask questions and seek help. Training and upskilling should not be a lonely journey.
With regard to training delivery in particular, it is not enough to simply provide a set of videos to watch, or a packet of documentation to read. Consider all mediums that people absorb information in – short video clips, short and easy to read manuals, face to face training, that localized knowledge centre where information can easily be found and of course, knowledgeable people, as well as short interactive quizzes to help staff cement their new knowledge, among other formats. Most importantly, people helping people, even to answer the simplest questions, makes a big difference.
Celebrating Success is Vital – Myth or Fact?
Small, individual steps are a part of big change. Small, individual steps taken by teams together in the same direction with the same goal in mind make the change happen and stick. Celebrating success is a part of every good workforce culture, as it brings with it several benefits, and the Social Care sector has many areas to celebrate success within.
It can be as simple as your staff teams highlighting and celebrating the fact that a service has gone completely paper-free in how they deliver services. It may be celebrating the fact that without having to no longer spend copious amounts of time on paperwork, a staff member was able to complete their support delivery tasks and enjoy a cup of tea and a chat with a person supported. With a software tool, such as iplanit, where support records are updated continuously throughout the day, the reporting allows a live, up to date view of outcomes completed, so that every month teams can celebrate the successes of the individuals that they support, and their own efforts that helped shape those successes, as they support people to achieve life’s potential.
Celebrating and embracing the benefits that making the digital transformation will bring to the organisation, and the lives of its employees, is vital to successfully implementing a software within a Social Care setting. Change is not to be feared, but instead it is to be celebrated!
Digitisation means Better Quality Care – Myth of Fact?
Of course, the most important benefit that comes with adopting a digital care management system is the improvements that it can offer to both the quality of care, and quality of life, that it will bring to supported individuals within support services.
Let’s go back to the beginning. When we think about the objective of wanting to make a change and move away from paper-based processes into a digital software tool, what is it that drives this need?
The need is to work more effectively, which in turn will help staff save time from filling out endless paper-based forms, eliminating data duplication. With less paper, there is a saving to be made on resources, such as paper itself – printing out copies upon copies of support plans, or support plan sections, or notes, or task lists. There is a need to have more security in place around people’s sensitive personal data. On physical paper copies, the risk for the data to reach the wrong hands is higher than with using the digital tools. Digitisation helps streamline work processes, all the data is in one place and everyone will have secure access.
However… having a digital tool in place does not mean that the staff member using the tool no longer has to stay vigilant. The staff member is still responsible for the security of the data, the digital tool simply makes it easier to do than on paper. The staff member is still responsible for delivering great quality care to the supported individual – only the staff member can do so – but with the digital tool in place, the staff member can ensure that the support delivery records are entered into the system, that these records are up to date, and that everyone who is involved in an individual’s care can see them as required at the touch of a button, enabling them to provide the care and support that the person needs at that time. In other words, the person using the digital tool will always be critical to delivering quality care and it is the software that helps staff to do so.
Digital Social Care, as enabled by iplanit, allows for person-centred care to take place and be a key focus within provider organisations, enabling supported individuals living with disabilities to receive a higher quality of care, which is the ultimate goal of all people involved in Social Care. iplanit was designed with the person supported at the heart of its development. This means that the individual must remain the focus of the support they receive at all times through being included, as well as through being able to engage with their own plans and outcome thanks to features such as the Person Portal, multimedia enabled plans and outcomes, and the system implementig a person-centred language – I want to… I wish to… My goal is… I would love to…
Digitisation offers endless opportunities and a way forward into the always-connected future. But there is also a balance to be struck, as with everything in life. We must not disregard or forget about the human element when using digital tools.
Big changes within an organisation can be daunting for all involved, and many factors will come into play and impact whether or not the implementation of said changes will be a success or not. Changing how things are done can be intimidating, particularly with regards to workflows and processes involving daily tasks. We have only examined a couple of the many myths surrounding change management and adapting to digital ways of working in general. If you would like to learn more about implementing iplanit within your organisation and how we can help you manage the digital transformation from paper to software, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the form below to book an iplanit demo!