Digital technology is bringing about exciting changes across all areas of life, including in health and social care.
Health and care records that were previously kept on paper are now becoming electronic. We can see our own GP records and order repeat prescriptions online. And different organisations that provide our health and care can communicate with each other much more easily, improving our care and making it safer.
We’re supporting our social care providers to take advantage of all this, so they can make care the best it can possibly be for people.
Below, you can read about some of the ways we’re doing this.
Keeping people’s information safe
Every care service holds information about the people it supports. We’re working with care providers in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) to make sure services are storing and using this information securely and that it’s properly protected. This is a legal requirement and it’s also vital for keeping people safe.
The Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) is a really helpful yearly self assessment that shows health and care organisations what they need to do to keep people’s information safe and protect their organisation from risk.
A national and local programme called Better Security, Better Care is providing support to social care providers, designed to improve data protection and cyber security in the care sector.
BLMK is offering free, expert advice on data protection arrangements to care homes, home care agencies, supported living and other care services for residents across the area. More details can be found on the DSPT website.
Introducing electronic social care records
Every care provider registered with health and social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), is being encouraged to improve the quality of its care by going digital – and funding is available to make it happen in BLMK.
Changing from paper records to a digital social care record (DSCR) in care organisations can have a huge effect on the safety of care, as well as how well care works for those receiving it. It can also save care organisations time and money.
So, here in BLMK, we’re supporting our care organisations to make the move to digital records.
First of all, we’re asking our CQC-registered providers to complete a short survey, which our colleagues at Central Bedfordshire Council are running on behalf of BLMK Integrated Care Board. This will give us the information we need to plan for the future. Importantly, it will also mean we can gain funding to help make a digital social care record and other digital initiatives a reality for our provider organisations that successfully complete the next stage of the process. This starts with the completion of an expression of interest form, in which providers that have already completed the survey and want to be considered for funding can submit their interest.
In addition, we might be able to gain backdated funding for providers who’ve introduced a digital social care record since 1 April 2022. To help us do that, we’re asking providers in this position also to complete an expression of interest form.
So, if you’re an eligible organisation, don’t delay – fill in the survey and expression of interest now.
Online ordering increases safety in care homes
Ordering repeat medicines for people living in care homes is now safer, easier and quicker in homes that have a direct link to their residents’ GP records.
Instead of working with paper prescriptions, care homes can log in to a GP’s online system on a resident’s behalf, ordering repeat prescriptions in the same way patients more generally can do themselves.
To help our residents who might be struggling with ordering medication or being able to look at useful information on their records they would normally be able to see, we have developed something called Proxy Access. This is secure and can only be used with the correct approval.
It means, for example, care homes can order medications at any time of day or night, leaving them free to concentrate on residents when most needed. They can also leave notes for the GP on the system, improving communication about the resident’s healthcare needs.
Importantly, as online ordering is based on the up-to-date details in the GP record, it’s more accurate. Medicines that are no longer needed can be avoided, making it safer for residents.
GPs and their practice staff, meanwhile, save time and effort as they no longer have to deal with paper prescriptions. And care homes using the online system are able to show health and care regulator the Care Quality Commission how they’ve increased resident safety and information security – important in helping them meet legal and ratings requirements.
Quick phone scan helps residents get care in the right place
A QR code on a wristband is helping reduce the time people need to spend in hospital by providing health and care professionals with important information.
In an emergency, any authorised health or care professional can use a smartphone camera to scan the code on a resident’s Yellow Bracelet – a band similar to those wrapped around a person’s wrist in hospital. This will let them see the resident’s relevant medical information, along with details of any care they have in place.
Having that information to hand means they can make better decisions for the person, such as, where appropriate, arranging for a care provider or family member to look after them, so avoiding a hospital stay. Or knowing what medication they need so they can be treated safely and quickly.
It also makes it easy to identify existing care packages when a resident does need to stay in hospital, enabling the care provider to put the care on temporary hold and start it up again when the person is well enough to go home. This ensures the care is available when needed and means the resident doesn’t have to stay in hospital any longer than necessary. Other patients also benefit as hospital beds are freed up for their care.
You can find out more about what we’re doing by clicking on each of the links below. For more information on the programme, or any of our projects, please email the team.