Uplands Nursing Home

Mandy thorn sat at her desk Mandy Thorn, Director, Uplands Nursing Home

How information and systems can help your social care business

‘How can you operate effectively without knowing your business?’ Mandy Thorn, Director, Uplands Nursing home (part of Marches Care, Shrewsbury)

Mandy built the new premises for Uplands 8 years ago. She soon realised that she needed good information about the business to ensure that she could make it effective and good systems to support them in achieving this.  

Using a simple excel spreadsheet, Mandy has key information about her residents at her fingertips.

She uses this information to identify her biggest customers in order to build relationships with them.

When the home was first opened and they started with only 20 dementia beds. However, very soon they had the data to prove that there was a much greater need and gradually increased the total number of beds to 81.   The data she’d collected gave excellent evidence for a business case so she could development in the right direction.

Read more about her story below.

Our board are very keen to see information from the management information system when they’re making decisions about the nursing home, its effectiveness and its future.  

Mandy says that they are fortunate that members of the board are able to interrogate the information, having developed these skills in other roles. 

Data is collected and stored and then interrogated to test our ‘gut feel’. It then gives us the hard data to back up our assumptions.’

We share our data with both local authority and health commissioners to demonstrate gaps and shortages in the area so we can identify where more beds are needed and what type. We also use the data with commissioners to evidence the services we’ve provided and to whom they’ve been provided. The information is extremely useful in persuading commissioners of the reality of the situation and enables them to make decisions in turn.

Both Mandy and Carey Bloomer, the manager, recognise the significant importance the use of technology can bring both to the efficiency and efficacy of their business, as well as to the people they support. They could see that it was essential to enable workers to use technology both in the everyday running of the nursing home as well as in day-to-day working with the residents.

Encouraging staff

Although only one out of 138 staff didn’t have an email address, a survey revealed most weren’t using it so some simple steps were taken so staff could embrace technology:

  • all wage slips are now sent via email - even the most resistant workers are now logging on
  • all holiday requests need to be logged electronically
  • auto-enrolment of pensions is now only by email

IT mentors

To help members of staff who struggled, a system of IT mentors was introduced and supported. Brief training was given to mentors, so that they could support workers with fewer or no technology skills.

Wi-Fi

Has now been installed across the nursing home and 4 laptops have now been placed in each of the 4 units within the home. These are primarily set up for implementation of the new systems but all staff are able to access them for other issues. These small steps have paved the way for the introduction of new day-to-day technological tools that can be used within the home.

The improvement of IT skills at Uplands has allowed them to use technology for a number of purposes:

New computerised system implemented

iCare Health, which will manage:

  • medication
  • care planning
  • administration
  • operations
  • facility management

Many of these tools are bespoke to Uplands, thanks to support from the manufacturers.

Audit tools

Each of these systems have built-in audit tools which can be used in a variety of ways for both the commissioners and regulators. The self-auditing systems supply information that can be used to directly for Local Authorities, NHS commissioners and Care Quality Commission.

Medication tool

Paper medication files and Medication Administration Records (MAR) have now been replaced with a laptop which contains the new medication system. The system is safer, quicker, easy to manage, instinctive and all staff recognise the improvement.

26 nurses across the four units have been trained especially by the system operators to operate the medication tool and there is on-going training for ‘super users’ using the training room located within the nursing home.  It’s saved twelve hours a day across the whole business.

NHS Mail

Uplands is also the first care home in the country to operate NHS mail. This enables them to received direct and secure emails from NHS establishments allowing detailed information to be posted around hospital assessments, hospital transfers and other areas of integrated working with health organisations. This is an excellent way to promote safe and secure information sharing.

An increased confidence in IT has prompted the purchase of two iPads which are currently used in a variety of different ways:

  • faceTime for residents with family abroad
  • streaming of catch up TV, e.g. Match of the day for one particular distressed resident
  • downloading photographs for use in reminiscence work
  • taking  ‘selfies’ for sharing in a range of activities

A man with asphasia uses the ipad to communicate what he needs when unable to explain verbally. 

There is a guest Wi-Fi throughout the home so residents and guests can bring in and use their own technology. There is also internet enabled television including Netflix.  Staff are now exploring how further applications can be downloaded onto the iPads to support their work.

Mandy believes that she has wasted as much as £30,000 over the last 8 years trying to use a range of different systems. She says they have learned lessons over this time and they are now much clearer about their needs. One big lesson is that on-going support is vital both for the system itself and also for staff development and understanding. 

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