Future of care data and tech

Professor Martin Green says ageism is alive and kicking
Professor Martin Green, chief executive, Care England

Professor Green argues that the sector has to deliver services differently

Care England recently held a conference on data and technology and so many speakers talked about how the appropriate use was transforming their organisations.

What was most noticeable about the presentations was people talked about how technology and data could transform the lives of the people we support, as well as delivering enormous dividends in terms of efficiency and focus within the business.

When we look at the demographics, it is clear that we are going to have a significant challenge to find the workforce to support people in the way that we currently do.

Not only is the burning platform of staff shortages forcing a rethink on how we deliver care, but the needs and aspirations of the people who use services have also changed significantly.

Technology offers us all an opportunity to offer greater independence to our service users and data offers an opportunity for better planning and direction of services.

I am also very interested in the way in which we can use technology to transfer information across the system, which will enable people to have proactive support and stop them from going into higher dependency, or a crisis.

This was vividly brought home to me when I was talking to a person in a care service who suffered recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) and subsequent hospital stays.

In recent months, the care provider had supplied him with a monitoring device, which he wore like a wristwatch and through the way in which data was transferred directly to the GP, the moment the warning signs of a UTI became apparent, proactive medicine ensured that the person did not have to visit hospital.

This simple example clearly showed that by using technology and data effectively we could not only improve the life of the person receiving care, but we could also stop costly hospital stays, which are not good for the service user, or the system.

There are so many ways in which technology can support people to live well and I have seen countless examples of relatively cheap kit that can make a real difference to people’s lives.

All care providers need to understand what is going on within different bits of the organisation and the more complex and decentralised the organisation is, the greater the governance and management challenges become.

I visited one care provider who has a fantastic ‘find and fix system’ which gets real time feedback from service users about how they are experiencing care.

The system enables the care home manager to immediately fix any issues that come to light and it also enables senior managers and the board of the organisation to understand what issues the company is experiencing and what remedial actions have been taken to improve things.

This is not only a great tool for governance and management, but it also helps the regulator, and most importantly, it helps service users to see issues dealt with immediately.

Professor Carol Jagger, from the University of Newcastle, published a study which showed the huge increase in the numbers of people who would need 24-hour care in the coming years.

Prof Jagger’s research is a wake-up call to the care sector because in order to meet future needs, we cannot continue to deliver services in the same way as we have always done.

The future will be about how we bring together data and technology as the foundation for personalised responsive care, and we will be able to use our staff in much more creative ways to ensure that our services meet the needs, aspirations, and desires of 21st century citizens.


Image: Professor Martin Green, chief executive, Care England