Care UK has reached the finals in a prestigious national award for the exceptional efforts its IT team put into ensuring care home colleagues could operate efficiently and keep residents and their families connected throughout lockdown.
The in-house team was a finalist in the IT Team of the Year category at the UK IT Industry Awards, with Thames Water securing the overall title. The Care UK success was in recognition of the team members’ skill and effort on two key fronts:
- Boosting the availability of a secure, fast WiFi network and tablets to all the Care UK homes in record time. This provided increased access to a range of services including video calls to keep residents in touch with family members and allow virtual links to GPs and other medical staff.
- Keeping support services going remotely. Teams working at Care UK’s Colchester support office were asked to work from home at less than 24 hours-notice ahead of the expected first Government lockdown in March. This involved putting in place an incredible amount of resource to support homeworking for over 100 people who deliver critical support services like facilities management, payroll and HR for the 124 homes.
Head of IT at Care UK, Carl Stokes said: “We were so pleased to reach the final stage if the IT Team of the Year category as these awards usually go to much bigger teams outside the social care sector. It is a tribute to how the team pulled together at a difficult time to ensure care home colleagues had everything they needed.”
In less than two weeks the team had ensured broadband bandwidth was significantly increased in homes and telephony systems were expanded so that support colleagues could operate care homes’ reception desks remotely if the home’s colleagues were too stretched.
The team also worked hard rolling out a range of video call and collaboration technologies to enable care homes to maintain links between families, keeping loved ones in touch and maintaining essential bonds as well as giving tangible assurance that their loved one was well-cared for.
Carl added: “In a matter of days, we distributed hundreds of laptops to support office colleagues who had previously used only desktop computers, enabling them to work from home. The video calling and collaboration technology had the additional benefit of streamlining essential communication links between home teams and the numerous external agencies and commissioners including NHS England, Public Health England, local authorities and GPs.
“We also rapidly created our remote worker’s easy-to-follow survival guides to the new systems, published via our intranet to support working from home, which proved very popular.”
He added: “The team’s efforts were Herculean. Their work was carried out at an unprecedented pace and with quality control and attention to detail as a fundamental component. We all had residents and their relatives at the heart of our thinking; using our skills and knowledge of what the care home teams do to provide new digital services to residents to allow them to stay connected with their families and for teams to function efficiently.”