The Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board (ICB) Digital Health and Social Care Team has been selected as one of nine finalists for the Virtual or Remote Care Initiative of the Year at the highly esteemed HSJ Patient Safety Awards. This national accolade recognises the team’s exceptional efforts in leveraging digital technology to revolutionise social care and improve patient outcomes.
The Digital Health and Social Care Team, in collaboration with IC24 Integrated Urgent Care and eight local Care Homes, embarked on a pioneering project to empower Care Home staff to provide clinicians with reliable observations during proactive ward rounds delivered at weekends and on bank holidays.
By doing so, the initiative helped keep residents at home, reduce unnecessary hospital visits, and minimise unplanned urgent and emergency calls.
To support this project, training sessions were delivered to Care Home staff and proactive ward round style contacts were established using video technology.
Claire Gilbert, Care Consultant at Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board Digital Health and Social Care Team said: “The impetus for this initiative stemmed from the high volume of calls to the IC24 111 service from Norfolk Care Homes, placing immense pressure on the system. Many of these calls led to unnecessary hospital trips, resulting in deconditioning of residents and increased dependency, which negatively affected the discharge plan and overall care.
“Recognising the need for a more detailed triage and clinical support, the project aimed to proactively plan and assess the delivery of resident care out of hours.”
Prior to the pilot, a recurring challenge identified by Care Homes was the lack of confidence in deciding whom to call and what information to provide in urgent situations. With less clinical staff in residential homes than those in nursing homes, this project helped bridged the gap by upskilling Care Home workers to recognise and assess signs of deterioration using Bluetooth technology.
The collaboration between Care Homes and IC24 enabled proactive clinical support, reducing the need for unplanned urgent or emergency care interventions.
Charles Stafford-Rose, Operations Manager for Norfolk and Waveney IC24 said: “The preliminary findings from the pilot phase are highly encouraging. Care Home staff have expressed positive feedback, feeling well supported in their care provision and empowered to make confident decisions regarding their residents’ health. Residents and their families have also reported increased confidence in receiving timely and appropriate care within a familiar environment.”
Emma Bayne, Registered Manager of St Johns Care Home said: “This initiative extends beyond individual benefits encompassing additional support to care workers, enhanced risk and crisis avoidance, reduced transfers to Emergency Departments via 999, minimised risk of hospital admission, and improved relationships between integrated Urgent Care Services and Care Homes.”
The success of this project has prompted further engagement with Care Homes and secured funding for remote observation technology, enabling the expansion of support to a greater number of residents.
The recognition of being shortlisted for the Virtual or Remote Care Initiative of the Year at the HSJ Patient Safety Awards is a testament to the team’s dedication, innovation, and collaborative efforts. Winners of the HSJ Awards will be announced at a ceremony in Manchester on 18 September 2023.
To find out more about the HSJ Patient Safety Awards 2023 please click here.