Our Digital Transformation team was formed over a year ago and team members have invested a significant amount of time building relationships with those working in the local healthcare system to really understand their needs.

By working closely with our partners, we realised we could make a significant impact by supporting the adoption and scaling of digital technologies within care homes. This collaboration across the North East and North Cumbria has so far seen numerous care homes and residents benefit.

In this blog, Robin Blythe, Programme Manager, explains more about this work and his passion for wanting to help the elderly.

I’ve been working within the NHS for over 12 years now and my role within the AHSN NENC finds me working with a wide variety of organisations including those within health and social care and the private sector.

Outside of work, I’m a keen cyclist, known to some people as a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). I can’t resist getting up early to get a few miles in before work, it is a great way to start the day and mull over a few things. One thing about riding up hills is although some are very challenging you know if you keep going you will always get to the top and feel like you have achieved something.

In my day job, my primary focus is to support the adoption digital solutions within care homes. This is not only enhancing resident care and staff experiences, but digital technology is also improving communication with care homes and other parts of the healthcare system. Like many of us, I had grandparents that unfortunately had to go into a home. I believe the elderly amongst us certainly have a lot to give back to us with all they have seen and experienced in their lives so anything we can do to support them in their twilight years, to me is very rewarding.

As part of the AHSN NENC led digital care homes programme, we work with Integrated Care Boards, local authorities and other stakeholders. Most recently, working with North Cumbria teams we have supported a rollout of the Health Call Digital Care Home Service to 90 care homes and over 2,000 of their residents. Brokering national NHS funding, the AHSN NENC supported numerous teams with stakeholder engagement, programme oversight, communications, benefits and evaluation.

Care homes have come a long way in adopting digital systems and hearing feedback, such as the comment below from a Care Home Manager, makes you realise that we’re making a big difference:

“As a large, three storey care home, using the digital devices has meant that staff can complete a number of day to day tasks, including taking observations and ordering prescriptions on the go, instead of worrying about spending lots of time in an office on the phone. This frees up staff time and means they can instead focus on providing fantastic care to our residents.”

In addition, 100% of care home staff surveyed said they felt confident about making referrals via the HealthCall system and found it quicker/easier to refer residents.

Care homes and their staff have been at the centre of this programme and have played a significant role in adopting the solution to improve the care and safety of their residents. They have endured a lot of challenges over recent years with the pandemic and staffing issues, all in a very challenging financial environment too. I feel that working under these circumstances they deserve the utmost respect in what they do.

As for next steps for the programme, now that the technology has been deployed, we are continuing to work with regional care homes support teams to embed this new way of working, and fully reap benefits for the residents and supporting teams. We haven’t stopped there, we are continuing to look for other digital innovations that will benefit care homes and help them to overcome some of the many challenges they face on a daily basis.

If you think of these challenges like hills, the teams we have worked with have certainly rose to the occasion and no matter what was encountered they have got to the top of many hills.

To find out more about this work please visit our programme page or contact Robin Blythe at [email protected]