Bluebird Care Lewes District, Brighton & Hove are two franchises providing domiciliary care with 91 care workers, 170 service users, 10 office staff and 2 offices.
everyLIFE talked to the team running these very successful franchises to discuss choosing and implementing the PASSsystem in their domiciliary care company.
everyLIFE Technologies: What made you go digital?
Gary Johnson, Director: I think the main reason we looked to implement digital care planning was because really it should have been there already. When we came into this industry, we realised that it was really in the dark ages. We had lots of bits of paper flying around everywhere. It felt very inefficient.
Michelle Johnson, Director: For me, one of the main drivers was safety, which is one of the key lines of enquiry (KLOEs) from the CQC. Before, we had paper rosters going out to carers and no electric monitoring system as such. We were therefore heavily relying on our carers, trusting them to visit customers and carry out their care. Now, with the real-time monitoring of care worker’s visits, we can ensure that each of our visits is carried out, and be satisfied that each task is carried out appropriately – including the administration of medication. Guaranteeing that we kept the business, and more importantly our customers, safe was a significant motivator.
How have you found the process of training and implementation? How long did it take you to really get used to the system and start using it, and how many people were trained initially?
Callum Johnson, Project Coordinator: Well, from the off everyLIFE got heavily involved with helping us set up. The in-office process took about six months, (NB: This includes three months per office; Brighton and Hove office, as well the Lewes office) principally because we have a large number of customers. It was really quick to transfer everything over from paper onto the system. Once that was done, it was then just moving on to training the carers, which we did in steps.
Gary Johnson: Obviously, implementing PASS was quite a big project. We were aware that we needed to have somebody in place to drive that forward. So we had a specific project manager who did that very well.
Callum: We had three stages. The first group to be trained were ready in two weeks. That included the initial first steps in explaining how the system works. Then we moved on to talk about it in a bit more depth – how it would work within individual customer’s care calls and that sort of thing. Then they were up and away and running with it. It went well.
Tracy Wood, Registered Care Manager: Definitely. It was easier that we had the separate groups at the beginning. We brought five or six carers in a time and introduced it slowly. The training that we received from everyLIFE was great. It was very detailed and in-depth, and then we shared that information with our carers. We went live in just over six months, which is really good.
Gary Carter, Care Worker: As for getting used to the system, as a carer I found it absolutely fantastic right from day one. It’s the easiest thing in the world to use. I have had colleagues that have not been so used to technology and mobile phones, but within the first few hours they can see what a valuable tool it is. Once they know what buttons to press and where to find the information, they become 100% committed to it.
How do you find the customer service and support from everyLIFE?
Tracy: Very good. We use the live chats on the corner of the screens in the PASSsystem, and also phone and email. Communication is very good. They respond very quickly – at least within a couple of hours they come back with an answer for us. They’re very responsive.
They’ve really helped add things to our care plans so that we can make them as person-centred as possible. We noticed that we needed a lot of risk assessments added to the system, for example, water levels and pressure sore charts. We explained this to everyLIFE and they were able to pop that onto the care plans for us.
Michelle: Absolutely. The team that we work with at PASS have been instrumental in helping us and supporting us in putting the technology in place.
Callum: If they’re not at the end of the phone, then you can always get in contact with them via email. They’re always there, day or night. I mean, normal response is about 20 minutes. Overall, we also had no problems with everyone actually using the technology. There’s been no problem with stuff like phone signal. It’s all been online. It’s all been working. No problems with that.
How has PASS helped to improve compliance and managing risk?
Michelle: I think one of the real surprises in terms of efficiency, something that we genuinely weren’t expecting, is the ease of auditing. Any care provider needs to audit every care note and every MAR chart to make sure that they’re accurate.
This system puts everything into a text-based application. Notes are typed, meaning they are clear to read and easy to find. The same goes with MAR charts. Likewise, anything that we need to amend, we can do very quickly. This has had a very positive impact on our auditing. We do it quicker. We’re better at it.
Tracy: It’s made our lives a lot easier. Our workload has reduced, especially with auditing. Instead of having piles of paperwork on our desks now, it’s now a daily process that we do. The supervisors can see when concerns are coming through, action things a lot quicker and easily report things to social services, GP’s, district nurses.
Callum: We’re able to not only deal with the day to day really easily, but there’s no horrible backlog to deal with, which means we can actually focus on being a care company rather than an auditor or a filer.
What impact has PASSsystem had in the office with remote access for management?
Michelle: The PASSsystem itself has been a real enabler of good quality care. Now we don’t have handwritten notes, all the information is sent back to the office in real time. This affords us the ability to look at those notes almost within the hour for every single care call and do what you may call a ‘double check’.
The carer performs their tasks and then a more experienced team at the office will look at those notes and make sure that the care has been given in the correct and suitable way. When we close the door at five o’clock in the evening, we know that every care call has been appropriately carried out and every medication has been correctly given.
It has enabled us to really have our finger on the pulse in terms of auditing and moving the business forward.
What are the main efficiencies that you’ve gained through using the PASSsystem? How do you sum up the benefits?
Gary Johnson: When we first looked at the PASSsystem, the cost savings were almost secondary. We realised that we needed a system that was efficient and made sure that our operation was safe. We were aware of the cost savings with regards to printing and costs related to transporting documents etc, but if I’m honest, for the initial decision it was more about effectively running our business. From there, we found that because the operation became so efficient, we were able to actually grow the organization at a much faster rate than we had anticipated, and the economic benefits have become very apparent.
Traditionally, we’ve grown 15% year on year. Since implementing the PASSsystem we’ve actually grown by 36% in the first year. With regards to timescales, we thought that it would probably take us six months to roll out the application fully. In fact, we were able to roll out PASS in its entirety in just three months. We did have concerns that we may need to employ somebody full time to make sure everything is working properly, because ultimately, we have a hundred mobile phones out there using PASS. However, so far, the system has been so good we have not needed to do this.
Economically, the PASS purchase model works very well for us. Benefits are twofold. One, because it’s per customer. We know that we could have as many licenses within the organization as we need, so we have no issue with concurrent users. Secondly, we have a fixed overhead that we know has a certain cost to us every month.
Michelle: We would have had to have had at least two other full time members of staff to achieve that amount of growth, whilst also drastically improving our audit process. It’s certainly been a cost-saving benefit to the business that I didn’t expect. I would imagine in excess of £40,000.
Gary Carter: A tangible benefit that I have seen as a carer is the amount of extra time I now have to spend on actual care. I used to work at a care home in Seaford, and one of the things I hated, and I really did hate it, was the fact that in an eight-hour shift I could spend around two hours on paperwork. Whereas now, with each customer, I may be on the PASSsystem for five minutes, if that. It gives me the time to give the care to the customer, which is what I do, which is what I am. I’m a care worker. I’m not a paperwork person.
That’s the reason I left my other job because I was finding that I wasn’t caring for 30% of the shift that I was on for. Whereas with Bluebird, with the PASSsystem, I’m literally there talking to the customers, or I’m entering the information on the system.
So, do you feel that PASS helped to improve your care?
Gary Carter: On the ground, absolutely without a doubt. All the information that I need to know about my customer is there on PASS, live at the time and in front of me. I can access it without having to run around through various offices to collect certain bits of information. It’s all there including notes from my colleagues that have been there previously, which is a big asset.
It’s a double check to make sure I’ve done everything correctly. There are some customers that had asked me questions saying, “a previous carer said this” and I can go back while I’m talking to the customer and just check to see if that was correct and if so, determine what needs to be done or if anything needs to be changed.
If there is something like a medication that has changed, for example the doctor has just walked in the door and said, “we don’t want to give that medication. We want to give another.” I’ll start by making a simple phone call to the office and within seconds it’s on the PASSsystem. There’s no way of making errors.
It also enables a more personal service for family members. I have one customer whose family has access to their father’s information. In the past, his daughters used to go to collect a shopping list from their dad, then go out to do the shopping, then come back again to see him. Now, I can put the shopping list on the PASS system for them. They buy the shopping before they go to visit their dad. It means they can spend more time with their father and they’re not running about like headless chickens. They find that incredibly valuable.
Tracy: Yes, in terms of being able to give specific individual and personal care, we can also put a lot more information on our care plans. We can build our care plans and shape them into what we want them to be. We want it to be person-centered. We can have anything we want amended.
Callum: Yes, we are able to build it around the customer rather than just have something that gets filled in by everyone.
How have your residents taken to having the digital technology going on around them? Is that something they’ve warmed to? How do you tell resident’s/customer’s families about the PASSsystem?
Tracy: The response has been very positive. We sent out consent forms to customers. We sent out letters informing them of the changeover. For a few of the customers we sent out supervisors to discuss the whole change, because they didn’t quite understand the technology. We spent a bit of time with them explaining the whole process and communicating. We had really good, positive feedback.
Callum: The customers have been happy to see it. Once it’s up and running, we’ve been really happy to get them involved and they say, “What are we doing? What are we changing on the system then?” There’s been an extremely positive outlook.
Gary Carter: Another one of my customers has moved over to Bluebird from a provider that wasn’t on PASS. He says that he finds it really friendly and helpful that the people are not coming in filling in lots of paperwork and then just going away. He’s able to see what I’m writing about him if he wants to.
The customers also really like the fact that I’m spending more time with them. If I’m not caring for them, I’m sitting there socializing with them and we’re having a laugh and we’re talking about the day in general. Because for some of these customers, I’m the only person they see for most of the day. It could be three or four times a day that I see them. That’s a big asset to them.
Would you recommend the PASSsystem to other businesses?
Tracy: Definitely, we’ve had discussions with other managers around the area. We would certainly recommend it to other people as well.
Gary Carter: Without a shadow of a doubt and this is my own personal statement, I describe the PASSsystem as my new best friend. It is. It’s got all the information I need I’ve got on there to be able to do my job, the way I want to do my job and the way Bluebird expect me to do it. It’s made my life so much easier. There’s no stress involved from not having to find the right form to fill in or being told you’re filling in on the wrong form. It’s all there on the one system and it’s so easy to use.
Top Tips For New Users
Make the most of the PASSsystem for domiciliary care by:
- Logging in online every morning to download your bookings and ensure all your customers are up to date;
- Logging in offline whilst in areas of low signal to enter the app and view data downloaded from your last online login;
- Tagging in on arrival, as your visit time doesn’t start until you do!
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