Caremark Redbridge and Waltham Forest is an energetic care provider who are really embracing the use of tech in their business. They have 45 care workers and 5 office staff caring for 85 service users. We talked with Ruth Addo, Project Officer about implementing PASS at Caremark Redbridge and Waltham Forest.
Training and Implementation
How have you found the process of training and implementation?
Ruth: The process was eye-opening. Our trainer was very patient, and I found him really informative but, like with anything when you’re seeing it for the first time, it’s a lot to take it all in at once. He didn’t overload us at the start though, just gave us what we could manage at that time. Afterwards, he was always available to give phone support whenever we needed it. Then about a month or so later he came back to see how we were getting on. We were not left by ourselves at all. Any time we needed any help or advice, he was always there for us.
How many people were trained initially?
First of all, he trained the office staff, and when he realised that another visit might be required, he came for a second time and was able to speak to the field care staff too, addressing the concerns that they brought up. So, it was a very practical and supportive implementation for us.
How long did it take you to go live and start using PASS properly?
Ruth: We did the in-house training around the 1st of February. I think everything really went live around March time, so all in it took us two months or so.
Everyday Use in the Business
What’s your policy concerning mobiles? Do members of staff use their own?
Ruth: From the outset we agreed that everyone would use their own. I think most people prefer that rather than trying to struggle with two. The team leaders do have company phones but usually still prefer to use their own phone for PASS.
What about remote access for management? Has that changed or impacted your working day?
Ruth: Oh yes, well I can access PASS all over the place. I look at it everywhere, which means that I’m not walking around with so much paperwork. I used to have to carry a huge big thick folder and that was kind of heavy. Then whenever I went out to do an assessment, I still had to come back to the office, type up all my notes and then go back to the client and put it in their folder. Now I don’t have to do that, I don’t have to be running up and down. So, in that respect, it’s halved my work.
Advantages of PASS
Compliance and Managing Risk
How has PASS helped to improve these?
Ruth: Well, having PASS means that I can be on top of all the day-to-day details in real time. And because of the lack of duplication, transfer and copying etc, the errors it used to cause are no longer an issue.
When there are changes to a care plan, PASS saves so much time. It’s so helpful for when clients’ needs change: when they become single-handed or double-handed or their medication’s changed, or you have extra visits, well you don’t have to start the assessment all over again from scratch now, all you have to do is amend it, but you’ve still got their previous assessment on the history and you know that’s always going to be there, safe and sound.
What are the main efficiencies that you’ve gained through using PASS? How do you sum up the benefits?
Ruth: Speaking with the manager yesterday, we really believe that the benefits have significantly outweighed the costs.
PASS saves so much of my time and mileage in particular. It’s no longer a case of having to wait until you get log books back or wait to get a report back from the carer, it is all there in real time. When carers are based in the field, it’s not easy for them to keep coming in to the office to update reports, so they are saving time too. Before PASS, there were also a lot of phone calls, missed calls and call-backs and they had to come back quite often to make sure the office was really up to date with what was going on, for example to write incident reports, but now they can write incident reports in the field, they can do it there and then and I can receive the report in real time.
It’s also saved travel time for me. When I need information from a client’s house there and then for example. Like this weekend, when one of our clients passed away, the paramedics wanted to find out what had happened. I could say, “Look, I’ve got all the records and you can see them too with openPASS.” We could tell the history of what had happened leading up to the passing because we could see the same notes. I didn’t have to try and remember or guess. We could discuss it in detail together because we were looking at the same information.
Similarly, if a social worker calls up saying, “Mrs. Smith is complaining that she didn’t have any breakfast.” I can look at her notes saying, “Well, as you know, Jane Smith has a condition preventing her from remembering everything. The carers have written down that she had a full English breakfast and we have it on the care notes.” I no longer need to put the phone down, call up the carer and say, “When you go to your next visit, can you check the logbooks to find out what the person had for breakfast this morning,” because are easily accessible to meet at the touch of a button. So much easier!
We’re a really environmentally-friendly office so we want to make sure that we aren’t contributing to the cost of cutting down all these trees. That’s really important for us, we’ve got lots of recycling initiatives. Everything that’s used here is recycled. So, another real benefit is using so much less paper. With PASS we don’t have to print out nearly as much: paper for MAR charts, paper for turning sheets, paper for features, paper for financial reports, paper for this, paper for that”. It really saves a lot on paper, and money. And it’s a really good feeling, helping to save the environment!
How has PASS helped to improve your care?
Ruth: By ensuring that the care we provide is really person-centred! It’s not just what is convenient for us, but what our client really needs. We can work more efficiently to their requirements now, not thinking “Oh no, we can’t do this because we won’t be able to monitor it.” A carer might be at somebody’s house and the notes say “Jane prefers to have marmalade on toast for breakfast now”, whereas before she always preferred to have jam on toast, PASS is updated so that the next carer coming in can carry out her wishes immediately, rather than waiting for a team leader to come down to confirm and make a note, ring the office, type it up, then put it back in the client’s file so that they will know what care to give them. Sometimes it is being responsive to the little things that really make a difference, it is really rewarding knowing care is person-centred.
Also, carers can prepare themselves before the visit begins, so they can chat to the client from the moment they come in through the door, already knowing the history and the personal background before they even go into the client’s house. It means that they can provide better care, spend more time interacting with the client rather than trying to work out what to do first. They can start working straight away and have more time to interact, which I think is key with delivering care. It’s not just about making sure that a person has something to eat, or that their incontinence pads are changed, but social interactions which are so much lacking these days. It’s not just about making sure that a person has something to eat, or that their incontinence pads are changed, but social interactions which are so much lacking these days. We have many incredible clients who are so lonely, the only time they do get to see someone is when the carer comes around comes around. In the old days, they were disappointed at the carer’s time constraints, but in the old days, when the carer arrived, they’d have to take a few minutes reading through the notes, working out what the previous carer did. Now, they can do that before they get there and then spend more time interacting with the client.
How does openPASS help your communications?
Ruth: It really improves our professionalism for a start. People are not really aware of that sort of technology and they really value the opportunity to use the 24/7, 365-day access remotely, so they don’t have to actually be there all the time, checking up. With the right permissions, families and other health professionals can access it themselves. That’s also a good selling point for us because we can say, “Look, we have these services. We can allow you to monitor the services with openPASS, saving you time and saving us money, it’s also beneficial for the client.” That’s very valuable to us. People find it a very progressive idea. Even carers that have left, when they hear about what we are doing, think that it’s just like the invention of sliced bread. They say “Wow! We need it. If we had this too, it would make our lives so much easier.” They can see, even the carers that have left can see the benefits of PASS.
How have your clients and their families actually taken to having PASS used around them? Carers on their phones etc, do they think they’re just playing games, or do they know that they’re recording their notes?
Ruth: They’re aware they’re recording notes and are fine with that. The next of kin and family and friends, they’re very happy with it. A lot of them do not live nearby and really, they feel helpless when they don’t know what’s going on. Now that they can read the notes, and they can plan for events. If they say, “the carer is scheduled to come at this time, let’s make sure that we go out earlier so that we come back before the carer comes.” openPASS has really helped families to connect.
How did you tell clients’ and their families about PASS?
Ruth: It was a gradual process. First, we wrote to everyone, explaining that carers would be spending more time on their phones. We assured them that it would be even more secure than with before. Then we gave them a newsletter with the benefits of having PASS. We gave families a chance to access openPASS before having to pay for it, so they were able to have a taster, and the majority of them loved it and were very happy to pay for it. So has that provided a useful income stream for us too.
How do you feel about going into your next CQC inspection, which must be due within the next 12 months or so?
Ruth: We’ll feel a lot more confident. We’re prepared and everything’s compliant with the CQC’s expectations. CQC will know at a glance, that the records are accurate and reliable and up-to-date. Whatever we need, we’ll be able to access it without having to go through the filing cabinet and trying to pluck this out and pluck that out. We can prove that all the information we are storing is secure and safe. They will be impressed I’m sure.
Would you recommend PASS to other businesses?
Ruth: Yes, I definitely would!