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Time spent by care staff completing and analysing reports is time not spent on caring – but more than half of that time can be recovered for caring, and the accuracy of reports improved, by simplifying and digitising the process, as Silverline Care has discovered.
Silverline Care operates 12 elderly care nursing homes across Scotland and the north of England. Ensuring consistent, and consistently high, standards of care across that geographic spread is necessarily a key focus for the management team.
May Prentice, Head of Operations at Silverline Care says, “We carry out 10 quality audits per month in each of our 12 homes, to provide evidence of compliance to two sets of regulators - the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in England and the Care Inspectorate in Scotland.”
The programme of rolling audits includes:
- Medicines management
- Infection Control (IPC)
- Environmental and cleaning
- Resident documentation
The management team wanted the ability to demonstrate Silverline’s quality processes to those inside and outside the organisation, without relying on an inefficient paper and spreadsheet system, and a system which only allowed one person at a time to access the results. In addition, the team wanted to address:
- data which was often incomplete, slow to compile and not available remotely
- the chore which collecting reporting data had become for staff
- a variation in service across all 12 homes – Silverline wanted a consistently positive culture for staff and residents
- the need to operate more efficiently and consistently across a wide geography
- improved management reporting and monitoring of quality initiatives.
Once the Covid pandemic started, the team also found that constantly changing Government guidelines raised the potential for staff to be confused or feel they didn’t have the most up-to-date information to confidently deliver high quality care. It also resulted in staff shortages as illness, self isolation, caring for families and so on restricted many employees’ ability to attend work.
Having selected Tendable to address all the original management requirements, during COVID-19 Tendable proved to be a valuable strategic communications tool too. Silverline was able to share the latest guidance with all staff. As May explains, “With Tendable we could communicate quickly as a team and discuss changes in guidance as they occurred. We also shared updates from the British Geriatric Society to establish and evidence understanding of clear guidelines for admitting and re-admitting residents.
“Tendable also gives us the opportunity to work collaboratively as a team to achieve excellence.” In particular, May identifies:
- spotting issues that need to be addressed and putting remedial actions in place swiftly
- benchmarking in a constructive, positive way, and sharing best-practice and learning across the group
- having a quality assurance system which the leadership team can access, and act on – the quality standards for individual care homes are transparent for all to see
- transforming inspections and the reporting process
- a clear audit trail of how Silverline homes are meeting specific legal requirements of the CQC and Care Inspectorate
- an ability to compare everything, from hygiene standards to staff DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks - they can also ask residents about the services they receive, for example getting feedback on meals served
- tracking progress of each resident’s care plan electronically.
Introducing Tendable has been transformational, both in terms of quality improvement and cultural impact, boosting the professionalism of the work environment:
- frontline staff have more time to care for residents – savings of at least an hour per audit equate to an extra 120 hours a month
- the intuitive, visual tool engages staff in the process – they enjoy completing an audit
- everyone can see the audit results and staff gain quick and meaningful feedback
- nurses and carers openly discuss issues, ways to improve, and training they need
- this level of transparency is empowering and encourages staff to get involved to identify and share best-practice, and then apply it where improvement can be made
- communication with management has become more frequent and focused on key actions to improve quality and safety across the homes
- easy, instant access for nurses and carers to the latest guidance on, for example, COVID-19 or new policies on dementia care.
And from the management perspective:
- easily obtained, instant picture of how the group is performing
- real time visibility of quality standards across the group
- assurance that staff have the skills and knowledge to deliver care of the highest standard
- the knowledge needed to inform faster and better decision-making.
The next steps are to use Tendable to:
- create action plans where shortfalls are identified
- report on specific CQC and Scottish Care Inspectorate questions
- use data tagging to facilitate analysis by themes from all audits.
May concludes: “We are now working with evidence, not anecdotes. This is essential to demonstrating compliance with the different regulatory jurisdictions in England and Scotland. It also puts us well ahead of the curve when preparing for future inspections, which is the very basis for improved and integrated care.”
Silverline Care is looking forward to developing a deeper working partnership with the Tendable team, which May describes as “extremely supportive and genuinely interested in driving our success. Tendable has become an intrinsic part of our quality and compliance programme.”