In areas such as care, where so much should rest on understanding and responding to the customer as close to the point-of-care as possible, having intelligent mobile tools to support care workers is imperative. Ian Jones, Senior Development Manager, Gwynedd Council, explains how bilingual care delivery through mobile devices is playing a crucial role in transforming community social care.
Bilingual mobile devices to support care workers breaks down barriers
Devices that enable care workers to capture outcomes on an electronic score card (for example, on a scale of one to ten how much easier is it for Mrs Smith to get out of bed?) can be used to both prove and improve the quality of service being delivered, reducing the time spent in convalescence and shortening the journey to independent living. Such solutions help reduce costs and allow every stakeholder to have a say – the management, the care worker and most importantly the customer.
In 2007, we introduced inTOUCH from CACI – a service optimisation and communications tool for local authorities that employ mobile care workers. With 69 percent of residents in Gwynedd speaking Welsh (the highest percentage in Wales) it was imperative to incorporate a bilingual feature, enabling care workers to choose English or Welsh as their preferred language.
At the council, we are dedicated to promoting the use of the Welsh language. Using a bilingual mobile device everyday helps us to achieve this and also gives carers an opportunity to develop their Welsh language skills. We can identify whether each carer uses English or Welsh, with the aim of increasing Welsh users over time. We have translated all of the information on the device into Welsh and simplified the language, removing any jargon, so that carers do not encounter any language barriers.
Multilingual devices can break down barriers between carers and service users. The ability to deliver care in a service user’s preferred language reassures them that their needs are being catered for. Although most of our immigrants are from England, we have a growing community of Chinese and Polish people moving to Gwynedd, so we may in the future benefit from those languages being made available too.
Making care workers’ lives easier
With over 400 care workers operating in a large geographic area each day, our inTOUCH mobile devices make it easier for back office staff to reach them and vice versa in case of an emergency. The speed of information helps make communication more efficient and therefore reduces administration time, which also helps us to fulfil employment regulations to reduce working hours to less than 40.
On a typical visit, a carer indicates they are on their way to a service user and the device gives them information such as any special requirements, reminders and care tasks to be carried out, in English or Welsh. The system then verifies the attendance and automatically completes electronic timesheets to feed payroll.
Don’t underestimate the culture change
Moving from a paper-based system to bilingual mobile devices initially presented a few challenges. For many front line carers it has been a culture change – both in terms of the use of the technology itself, as well as the use of the Welsh language on mobile devices, as most people are accustomed to using technology such as PDAs and mobile phones in English.
It is a journey we have embarked on armed with a comprehensive training programme along with additional support such as pocket handbooks available in English and Welsh.
We are collaborating with Isle of Anglesey Council to help them go live with inTOUCH by April 2012 – by partnering with them they will benefit from a rapid implementation timescale of six months. We intend to extend the use of inTOUCH to other services in the council, such as the learning disability team, and another area we may look at is services for the blind.
Ian Jones, senior development manager, Gwynedd Council
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About CACI’s Care Provider Division:
CACI is the UK’s leading provider of software solutions for public, private and charitable care providers in residential, domiciliary and agency care. Its innovative care management software solutions enable organisations to optimise business processes, reduce administration and so increase spend on all important service provision. Its enterprise solutions are scalable and robust. Its products include:
OfficeBase Care Provider Management: developed to help managers of home care and care home providers to optimise their resources and to balance the operational needs of running their business with the provision of person-centric services. This fully integrated care management system is designed to manage the core processes around services, including user referral and care planning, carer matching and allocation and staff timesheet recording, through to contractual billing and staff pay. In each of these areas the software allows optimisation of business processes in order to achieve operation and financial objectives while satisfying care standards.
inTOUCH Mobile Working: the first mobile homecare management software solution in the UK to address the needs of care providers working in the field. Deployed on ‘smart phones’, inTOUCH allows carers to download their specific service user schedules whilst also providing them with contextual information and prompts for each visit. As changes occur, such as abortive visits and staff sickness, these can be relayed immediately to the carer and vice versa. As a result, inTOUCH enables real time communication and full co-ordination with the OfficeBase Care Provider Management solution