Digital solutions in care homes 2020-2022

The Remote Monitoring and Scaling Digital Solutions in Care Homes programme was a two-year programme that followed on from an initial programme of work that aimed to enhance digital solutions in care homes. The programme concluded in 2022.

This work is continuing at the AHSN NENC as part of work to accelerate digital transformation in care homes. Find out about the latest work and projects in care homes here.

Programme background

The AHSN NENC has led programmes to support the region’s care homes with digital initiatives since 2017. The Well Connected Care Homes (WCCH) project aimed to support care homes to become “well connected” in the digital age. The two main aims to the project were to improve record keeping and also to promote the use of electronic communications. The Is my resident unwell? tool was also rolled out which is a useful communication aid to guide care homes in effectively reporting a resident who they believe may be unwell to other healthcare professionals. In March 2021 the project ended and the learning was captured in this report.

In 2020, the NHS Transformation Directorate (formerly NHSX) initiated a new Remote Monitoring Scaling Programme to build on the digital health advances achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic, and accelerate the use of digital innovations to transform patient care. The regional programme, led by the AHSN NENC, supported care home staff to quickly and securely communicate and collaborate internally and with local authorities and NHS organisations.

Working in close partnership with digital leaders from CCGs, local authorities and a variety of other stakeholders, Health Call’s Digital Care Home service was rolled out into the region’s care homes.  Partners worked together to support care homes to adopt digital services, by providing the necessary tools, access to the system and training.

There were three main aims to the programme:

  • To support care homes in the adoption of the Health Call Digital Care Homes service to become better connected
  • To enhance the quality of care and overall experience for care home staff and their healthcare partners
  • To significantly improve communication between care homes and wider healthcare services.

Programme achievements

The programme has rolled out the Health Call service into four areas in the region  – Newcastle, Gateshead, Tees Valley and North Cumbria. Upon its completion, digital services have been made available to over 280 care homes and over 8,000 of their residents. The following benefits were identified and formed a focus for the programme.

Benefit description

  • Improved patient (resident) experience
  • Care home staff feel empowered and confident in making referrals if they are concerned about a patient
  • Reduction in the time it takes for clinicians to log and process referrals from care homes.
  • Reductions in care home staff time making referrals

Whilst the above are the tracked benefits, other anticipated benefits should also be taken into account.

– Reductions in use of secondary care services

– Reductions in admissions and non-elective bed days

– Reductions in use of primary care services – urgent calls

The Remote Monitoring Scaling Programme ended in June 2022. Other Digital work is now underway as the programme continues to explore further opportunities to enhance digital in care homes and the benefits that can be achieved.

For more information on the work we have done so far to support care homes, please click the banners below or contact [email protected]

National Early Warning Score

National Early Warning Score resource 

Patient Safety Alert: Resources to support the safe adoption of the revised National Early Warning Score (NEWS2)

Managing Deterioration Using NEWS – Watch the video series

Survey report – Understanding Care Homes Digital Barriers, Aspirations and Enablers

In 2022, the AHSN NENC, working with the North East and Yorkshire (NEY) region Better Care Better Security team and key stakeholders across the region, completed a digitally focussed survey with the region’s care homes to help inform future digital priorities and programmes of work. The main purpose was to understand care homes’ perspectives on perceived need and appetite to adopt digital systems and products. Read a summary of the report here. (a link to the full report is also included)

Connecting community health services – what has been done so far in NENC?

The care home sector roadmap ‘Connecting Community Health Services – what has been done so far?’ was developed by the AHSN NENC, with partners in May 2022. The roadmap was produced following a mapping exercise of digital activity in the North East and North Cumbria region to capture a representation of all the digital initiatives happening in and around the care home sector. It provides an initial guide for organisations in the North East and North Cumbria area who may be seeking ways of becoming more digital and working their way towards digital maturity. You can download the roadmap here.

Digital Care Homes event – 5th May 2022

A Digital Care Homes event hosted by AHSN NENC took place on Thursday 5th May 2022. The event had a variety of speakers from the region and beyond, outlined in the agenda below. The event was targeted at several regions in the region who are at varying stages of deploying digital solutions (in this case the Health Call Digital Care Homes Service) in their region’s care homes.


Presentation slides

Event recording

Watch the event in full below. Please note that unfortunately some of the presentation slides within the recording have not been recorded however a copy of the presentation slides can be downloaded above if needed. Those presentations without slides are:

  • “Is my resident unwell?” tool
  • An introduction to Health Call Solutions Ltd
  • Digital Care Homes in County Durham (Durham County Council section only)

Other event presentations

In October 2022, we were invited to present about our programme at the national #NHSInnovCollab Care Sector Event, as part of a regional spotlight showcase. Listen to the recording at 7 minutes here:

Case study – Digital devices in North Cumbria care homes

The Digital Care Home solution from Health Call has been rolled out in North Cumbria care homes, as part of the regionwide project which has supported 280 care homes. Read the full case study here.

Blog – Supporting the adoption and scale of digital care homes 

In this blog, Robin Blythe, Programme Manager, explains more about the impact of supporting the adoption and scaling of digital technologies within care homes.