Wednesday, 10 August 2016

App Technology Used to Improve Nursing Home Care

Nightingale House in South London has developed an app for staff to use when updating patients’ records, reducing the number of hours spent filling in forms, keeping staff updated in real time and freeing them up to concentrate on providing direct care.

Nursing homes have been something of a forgotten entity in a world increasingly managed by apps, tablets and smartphones. Staff are required to fill in endless forms to ensure patient care standards are maintained and risks are managed. Whilst the need for records is clear, form filling is rarely the reason people opt for a career in this sector and many find the admin demoralising.
At Nightingale House they have embraced technology in a bid get the balance between robust record keeping and direct patient care. They started by collecting information about each resident’s life history and making this information available electronically, increasing the sharing of knowledge amongst staff. They worked with Cass Business School and digital product company ustwo to develop a mobile app that would allow staff to capture information digitally whilst with patients, increasing patient face time.

The new app, Keepsake, is based on algorithms which use language recognition to categorise the notes being made as positive or negative and to prompt staff members about what they should do next. If a fall is recorded, the app prompts the member of staff to complete an accident form and consider medical treatment etc.. The system acts not only as a tool for recording activity, but as a reminder of good practice and standards expected to be met, and it even co-ordinates with each patient’s care plan.

The intuitive design starts with a home page, with categories for what can be recorded about each resident: nutrition, activities, hydration, and in the future will also include sections for hygiene, medicine, sleep, life history.

Talking to The Guardian, Samsam Abshir, a registered nurse at Nightingale, said “It was so simple and easy, you can sit down with a resident, take part in the activity and also record at the same time. I feel like that was easier for me than sitting down and filling out all this paper.” Ancy Raju, an assistant practitioner, found that she could engage with residents and keep records by taking pictures of the activities they were doing.

Staff found it quicker to complete recording tasks electronically, rather than having to go to the office, remember the details, find the right file and handwrite records, and residents’ families could be updated more easily, by sending newsletters based on the reports and photos taken throughout the week.

Anne Smith, whose mother has dementia and lives in Nightingale, was sent some trial newsletters as part of the project, and found it a helpful way of finding out what her mother had been doing, and keeping other relatives informed. “We might see her and she might be quite grumpy for that couple of hours. But we won’t know that she’d had a great hour in drama therapy, or she’d done some painting.”

Developers reported that staff reduced admin time by more than half during the trial and they are now seeking funding to build the full app.

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