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25/07/2023   New Technology Helping Carers to Relieve Pressure on NHS

New Technology Helping Carers to Relieve Pressure on NHS

Care homes in Lincolnshire are trialling a new digital system which allows care workers to carry out some clinical tasks, saving time and reducing pressure on the NHS.

Lincolnshire Care Association (LinCA) has helped to introduce a digital observation kit into care homes in the county to enable care workers to take clinical observations and then transmit them digitally to the NHS clinician who needs to read them and monitor them. 

Working with the NHS Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board, LinCA has also published a delegated healthcare activities governance toolkit to provide guidance for care professionals. 

“The aim of the new system is to delegate the taking of clinical observations such as blood pressure or blood oxygen levels, which can be a vital measurement for older people, without delegating the decision making,” said Melanie Weatherley MBE, Chair of the Lincolnshire Care Association. 

“This is nothing new – parents are trained to undertake highly technical interventions to support children living with complex conditions, for example. And diabetics have managed their own blood glucose and insulin successfully for many years. 

“If we become unable to do these things for ourselves we have to rely on health professionals, even when the knowledge and expertise of a trained nurse is not really needed. Delegation of some of clinical activities to carers can produce better outcomes, especially if it is seen as an innovative choice rather than a way to manage scarce resources.” 

Melanie explained that during the Covid-19 pandemic interactions between care home residents and clinicians was reduced and care home staff were encouraged to support residents with dressings, insulin management and physiological readings. 

“When the pandemic ended many of us wanted to carry on doing this work, if done safely and if the extra contribution and responsibility were recognised,” said Melanie. “If delegation is done properly it can give the person who draws on care and support more control as well as giving care staff opportunities to develop.

“Delegating some of the more routine aspects of healthcare can give our skilled health colleagues more time to devote to those who need their knowledge and expertise.” 

Ashdene Care Home in Sleaford is one of the homes which has been trialling the new digital observation kits. 

Assistant Manager Luke McCarthy said: “Before we had this kit we had to write everything down manually on a piece of paper. The risk of writing down observations was that it might be recorded wrongly, or if it got missed that observation was not recorded.” 

Clare Burrows, a nurse practitioner working in South West Lincolnshire, said: “My experience with working with telehealth is that it most definitely improves collaboration between professionals caring for these people. 

“What it also does is improve health outcomes because it ensures that we can work collectively to meet the needs of the individual person, and that in turn reduces admissions to hospital.” 

Melanie Weatherley added: “I recognise there are risks with delegation. It must always be done for the benefit of the person drawing on care and support and there should be a clear governance structure around it to keep everyone safe.

“The publication of guiding principles for delegated healthcare activities is a major step in the right direction, helping to embed best practice, safety and expanded skill sets right across the care workforce.” 

Lincolnshire Care Association and Lincolnshire ICB have produced a short video about the new telehealth monitoring kit which you can watch here. 

Melanie has also written a blog about it here. 

Lincolnshire Care Association supported the introduction of the digital observation kit working with the Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board and Lincolnshire County Council.