Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Faced with a rapidly ageing population, the pressure on the care sector in the coming years will be immense. Demand for care home places is expected to soar, with one study showing that 190,000 more elderly people are likely to require care by 2035; a rise of 86%.
While many care homes are currently providing an exemplary service, a fifth of those in England are rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by the CQC. This would suggest that some are already struggling to cope. Although the reasons for these ratings are varied, many of the more common issues are caused by outdated operational processes.
However, technology is now widely available to enable care homes to become almost entirely paperless enterprises. Replacing old fashioned paper-based systems with electronic care record software means that all paperwork can be completed digitally, often via an app on a mobile device. Watch our features video here.
Offering far-reaching potential benefits for care home operators, their employees and their residents, here are just four of the reasons care homes should consider going paperless:
Relying on paper-based processes can end up costing even a small business as much as £14,616 each year. Not only is the paper itself expensive, but businesses must also factor in the costs of running and maintaining a printer, and the valuable space taken up by bulky filing cabinets.
The larger an individual care home or group of homes grows, the higher this cost becomes, yet it is one of the easiest business costs to reduce significantly without cutting corners on patient care or negatively impacting employee satisfaction.
Completing all paperwork by hand is an onerous task and places an unnecessary administrative burden on staff.
Recording information digitally via an app or mobile device and automatically saving it to a cloud-based reporting system makes it much easier for paperwork to be completed in real-time as staff go about their duties. Carers can then have more time to concentrate on providing the best possible service without worrying about having to stay late after their shift to complete outstanding administrative duties.
One common concern about relying on paper-based processes is that it can be difficult to ensure the confidentiality of patient information.
Digital solutions can also allow management to set permissions dictating who has access to which levels of information saved on the system. With many care homes experiencing a high turnover of carers, or relying heavily on agency staff, this is an easy and effective way to protect patient confidentiality.
With physical paperwork it is much more likely that important documents will be filed incorrectly. Missing paperwork puts patients at risk, and leaves care providers vulnerable to compliance issues which could negatively affect their CQC rating.
Digital systems eliminate this issue, while also making it much easier for staff to look back over previous reports and see which tasks need to be completed and when. They can even be set up in such a way that they alert care home staff to any overdue paperwork, which can help to prevent vital responsibilities such as the administering of medication being missed or overlooked. With this additional safety net, management can feel confident that they are providing the best possible quality of care and meeting the CQC’s high standards.
With so many benefits, both for care home businesses and their residents, it’s clear that going paperless with the help of digital technology is worth serious consideration for operators looking to improve their service and ensure they’re ready to face the future.