Brand new mobile technology will be rolled out for the first time in Norfolk next month to help increase care workers time talking to the people they support, as well as keeping carers safe in isolated areas.
Each of the 200 care workers employed by Care UK in Norfolk has been given a smartphone that will help them to stay in touch with colleagues in the office as well as giving them added protection through the phone’s in-built GPS system. Importantly, this is all at no cost to the care workers.
The phones also access a system that will allow co-ordinators to plan more responsive and flexible rosters to account for unforeseen circumstances – all helping to cut travel time and distance.
The phones have been trialled in Scotland, where carers are already seeing their benefits. The brand new bespoke system has been designed by experts working with Care UK and is one of the first in the country to bring together various elements such as location tracking, time sheets and free calls to colleagues and the branch office.
Libby Eastley, a director with Care UK’s Community Services, said: “We think that our investment will be worth every penny, as it brings lots of benefits to our two most important groups – the people we support and our colleagues.”
“The smartphones will improve punctuality and communication for service users because, via the GPS, the office will be able to see where people are and what progress they are making with their rota. If a care worker encounters any difficulties it enables us to identify a team member who is nearer to the service and could make the visit instead.”
“Team members will be able to let the office know of any hold-ups immediately, such as a broken down car or needing to stay with a service user who is unwell and this too will reduce late calls. Additionally, given the rural, isolated locations many of our team members work in, they can call colleagues in an emergency and we also know where they are if they are unable to communicate with us. I think during the coming long dark nights, this is going to be really reassuring for our teams.” Libby continued.
With the new system, the call will be automatically logged when they enter the house so they can start talk to the person they’ve come to support as soon as they walk through the door.
In North Berwick, East Lothian, a survey of care teams using the new phones showed that the technology helped carers to do their jobs more effectively, improved team spirit, made rotas clearly and easily available to colleagues and provided valuable support in emergency situations. Carers love the fact that they get free phone calls to their colleagues and their branch office – in the past they have been required to use their personal phones – and that they have their up-to-date rotas available on the phone at all times making for a safer and more secure way of carrying user information.
Carer Denis Egan who supports people in Norwich area with Care UK said: “I think the phones are a very good idea for lots of reasons. Caring is a very personal as well as a very practical activity. The phones gives us information that is not only practical but that helps us bond with the person.”
“On a first visit to a service user the phone will tell me where the key is, what door to use, what the person likes to be known as and if there are any pets in the house or anything else to be alert for.”
“I think people will really benefit from the system because the rotas are updated in real time so things should run smoothly and, given the rural nature of the county and the large distances that need to be travelled, that is quite an achievement.”
And it is that isolation that Denis says makes his colleagues very pleased to have the system in place. “Because of the GPS, if someone’s car breaks down, and they can’t give exact details of where they are, or if something happens and they are in distress the office can immediately send the nearest carer to help or call the emergency or break-down services and just knowing that is very reassuring to them,” he said.
Training on using the new phones has already started and the Care UK team expect the system to go live early next month.
With thanks to www.TourNorfolk.co.uk for the photograph of Norwich cathedral