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Meritum Integrated Care: piloting an app to give care workers vital health information

Meritum Integrated Care: piloting an app to give care workers vital health information

 

Meritum Integrated Care provide domiciliary care to people in the community across Kent. The team were part of a pilot project for a new app that gives care workers up-to-date health information.

 

Background

In August last year, Meritum Integrated Care took part in a pilot for a new app called Help to Care. The free app provides advice and guidance for paid care workers and unpaid carers. It details the fundamentals of care, such as catheter care, medication disposal, and mobility and falls advice.

The app includes helpful guides and training videos on common health conditions, such as diabetes, urinary tract infections and respiratory conditions. There’s also an assessment section which helps you to decide if the person is developing a health problem that needs medical attention.

It was created by Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and is based on the award-winning Stop Look Care booklet created by Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group.

 

Giving a helping hand

Andrew Saunders from Meritum Integrated Care said:

“We are always looking at ways to support staff while out and about on top of their usual induction and training. We got asked to pilot this app for a month and it gave our care workers somewhere to go for accurate and up-to-date information.”

With so much health advice available online, Andrew says it’s hard for staff to know what is accurate and reliable. The app puts all NHS-approved information all in one place.

Andrew continues:

“There’s increasing responsibility on social care workers to have current health knowledge. By using the app, staff told us that it increased their confidence and was reassuring to have so much knowledge to hand. The fact that it’s an app that they can use on their own smartphone or tablet at a time that’s convenient for them really helps.” 

Managers were impressed with the app and could see that staff felt more supportive whilst out and about. It could be used to encourage more senior staff to take on more responsibility, such as liaising directly with health care professionals.

 

Improving care

The app can be used in real-time when the carer is with the service user. In one instance, once the skin damage assessment was completed, it resulted in a referral to a GP which otherwise wouldn’t have been placed until later. The GP was able to make an early diagnosis of cellulitis which could be easily treated at home.

Another worker read the mental health advice article because she was concerned about a lady she cared for. The article contains videos on anxiety and depression which gave her the confidence and the language to start a positive conversation with her client. Using the app, the care worker could find the details of other services for further support. These changes to everyday practice have made a big impact.

 

Signposting

The app links to local services in Kent and Medway, so care workers can easily be put in contact with organisations that are there to help.

Zoe Galvin, Help to Care Project Officer at Kent County Council, said:

“In Kent we have a large number of care providers and we wanted to be able to support them further with the vital work that they do. By creating this digital resource, it gives both care workers and unpaid carers extra support and information at their fingertips.”

Anyone can download the app for free, but the services provided will currently only link to those in Kent.

Zoe said:

“Now the development of the app has been done, we’re really hoping that other local authorities will take on the app and use it for their own areas. We want to share our work further so that other people across the country can benefit.”

 

Lessons learnt

  • Technology like this helps to support care workers to give them more confidence
  • Because it puts all NHS-approved information in one place, care workers know the information is reliable and accurate
  • Developing a simple to use app with icons makes it straightforward for anyone familiar with a smartphone or tablet to use.

 

Costs

The app is free to download and is available in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

 

For more information

Any local authorities who wish to find out more or implement it in their areas should contact [email protected]

Find out more about Meritum Integrated Care at www.meritum.org.uk

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