Before this world-changing coronavirus pandemic, the term “remote-working” was often only reserved for software engineers, freelance writers, digital nomads, and millennials. We couldn’t have imagined a reality where a large portion of the workforce, who had not previously done so, would be working remotely from their homes. While some industries have adapted to this easily, others have struggled. Some such industries where remote working requires more thought and infrastructure are health and social care.
Simply put, people cannot be supported remotely. Human care and support services remain more necessary and more critical than ever before. While frontline health and social care workers bravely continue to support people, what can managers, supervisors and those who are unable to be on the frontline do remotely? How can health and social care adapt to assist in the best possible way?
How has Covid-19 affected the health and social care sector?
While the coronavirus has impacted many aspects of health and social care, lack of PPE and staff shortages remain the prominent issues during this crisis. People supported are affected by a lack of structure and routine that would normally be afforded to them by regular outside activities and visits from family. People with learning disabilities, mental health issues or dementia could be severely impacted by this lack of normal structure.
From a service management point of view, difficulties arise from depleted workforce and restrictions. Monitoring people supported and staff on-site might no longer be possible due to outbreaks of coronavirus or preventative measures. Organisation and deployment of staff to the right locations at the right time becomes a cumbersome task without service access or data to work from.
Is remote working the future?
As this crisis continues, beyond what we could have ever imagined, we must ask the question – could this be more permanent?
Many companies, with remote working now being the status quo, will be asking themselves if office space is a necessary spend? Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype and many more technologies have made online meetings and virtual decision making the new normal.
What can be done for health and social care, where the stakes are much higher? When it comes to human services, there is much more to consider than simply moving meetings online. Outlined below are the areas in which technology and care management software can help with meeting the demands of remote working in health and social care.
We are all suffering the lack of human connection since lockdown measures have been introduced. While operational, staffing, and PPE issues dominate, it is important to remember that individuals supported need to continue to feel a connection with others.
The digital age makes it possible for those who are supported away from family and friends to stay in touch with them. It is important that this happens in a secure online environment, with only those in the person’s circle of support being able to contact them.
Staff and Service User Contact Tracing & Infection Control
Having a 24/7 overview of all locations under your management allows you to keep track of contact between staff, people supported, and external supports. Should a virus outbreak occur in a service location, managers will be able to identify those who are potentially infected, those who should self-isolate, areas to be deep cleaned, and other necessary measures.
Using an online system reduces the risk of infection compared to a paper-based system, where many people are touching the same pages and folders. Staff can either have their own work device or devices that are sanitised between staff.
Communication – Internal Messaging
The top three things that support healthy and efficient remote team-work are communication, communication, and communication.
The existence of internal messaging functionality within any organisation is extremely beneficial to online working. It allows managers and supervisors to communicate with teams or individual staff members quickly and securely at the click of a button.
Teams can quickly be informed of daily check-ins, tasks, “stay safe” reminders, policy updates, operational changes, or revised staffing arrangements.
One way of effectively sharing information regarding infection control, government/health service advisory documents, or positive messages is through digital media.
Whether you need to share messages of encouragement with your staff or provide much-needed guidance on procedures regardless of location, an online care system is a way to achieve this.
Messages from loved ones could be recorded and shared with people supported if only simply to provide encouragement during times of uncertainty
Realtime Reporting and Analysis
Real-time monitoring of service delivery and activity allows managers and supervisors remote oversight of service delivery.
Data collected daily can help inform decision making and improvements going forward. Coronavirus has introduced everyone to a range of new terms and procedures that require constant restructuring and improvement.
Analysis of service activities during this crisis will allow for management to plan for future occurrences feeding into business continuity plans etc.
What can iplanit do for remote working?
As a cloud-based care management software, iplanit allows information to be accessible from anywhere. Managers can get real-time data of operations and monitoring of service delivery remotely. Unique to iplanit is the configurability of the software; COVID-19 specific note and log boards can be generated to suit how your organisation operates, keeping track of PPE stocks, staff symptoms, service user symptoms, etc.
Internal messaging functionality allows for secure communication between teams while The Person Portal allows for virtual communication between the person supported and their support circle. Find out more about how iplanit care management technology can be used to tackle a diverse range of remote working challenges here.