Well Connected Care Homes

Well Connected Care Homes (WCCH) was a project with an aim to make care homes internally and externally ‘well connected’ in the digital age, adding value for service users, carers, families and care providers and the wider health and social care system. The project came to an end in March 2021 and has now been superseded by the Digital Solutions in Care Homes project delivered as part of NHSX Remote Monitoring and Scaling Programme.

The programme was connected to the regional EPaCCS project and worked with the region wide Great North Care Record, as well as North of England Commissioning Support (NECS) to ensure that care homes and their residents were included in the advances in communication of relevant information within the NHS and strictly within bounds of relevant governance and with relevant permission of patients.

The programme had two parts:

  • Improving record keeping for care home residents by using tablet based apps to allow electronic recording of care plans – for example the EPaCCS system for recording patient’s wishes about their care and their life – and to allow clinical record keeping for individual residents, and particularly by introduction of the NEWS (National Early Warning Score).
  • Promoting the use of electronic communication of patient (resident) clinical information between care homes and primary care (GP electronic patient records), emergency care, including out of hours and ambulance services, and community services.

A focus of the programme was also evaluation and research on the work already carried out within Sunderland Care Home Vanguard and its care homes technology project.

‘Is my resident unwell?’ Communication Tool

The ‘Is my resident unwell?’ communication tool was launched at an event in Durham on 4 March 2020.  The tool has been developed by the AHSN NENC Well Connected Care Homes programme. The communication tool was developed to assist staff in recognising signs and in recording a set of observations. An aspiration of the tool is for it to be incorporated into the system and will be something that all care home staff in the North East and North Cumbria region will use.  A downloadable version of the ‘Is your resident unwell?’ communication tool Is available below as well as a poster to be displayed in participating care homes.

‘Is my resident unwell?’ tool


Sunderland Digital NEWS Tablet

Sunderland Care Home Vanguard introduced technology to each of its care homes, combined with training and support, consisting of a digital tablet, bluetooth blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter and thermometer. Non qualified staff are trained to use the equipment providing baseline NEWS scores, repeated whenever there is a clinical concern for a resident.

A small scale local evaluation of the project suggested reductions in use of A&E, acute admissions and use of Ambulance, alongside reported increases in staff confidence when communicating with health professionals and distinct changes in the language used in care plans and care notes. There was sufficient evidence within this small evaluation to suggest a larger scale evaluation would be justified, to this end the AHSN NENC commissioned a large scale project alongside local universities and the CCG.

Delivery in the AHSN NENC

The aim of the research was threefold:

  1. To analyse the NEWS scores to ascertain any trends or patterns, understand the component physiological measures and how they may be interpreted. Compare to existing research and outcomes.
    – There is to date around 2500 individual clinical measures and NEWS scores within the database, this represents a significant opportunity to analyse NEWS and its composite scores in an environment not previously researched, not least in an attempt to validate its use as a tool within the care home setting.
  2. Consider the impact on those using the new technology and the interfaces with others in the health and social care system.
    – Staff within care homes reported significant increases in confidence in referring to and requesting input from qualified health professionals from both primary, secondary and emergency care. External health professionals reported increase in the quality of information being relayed thus improving clinical decision making and appropriate response.
  3. To understand the economic impact on the system and its component parts from the introduction of the new technology.
    – The opportunity to compare care homes using the new technology and those not within the same health care system represents a significant opportunity to assess any economic impact on the wider system through changes in use of secondary care.

A significant opportunity exists in the near future to provide a transfer of care home NEWS scores to the digital platform of attending ambulance crews, thus permitting the transfer of valid clinical measures across the system and at a time of clinical need. Those NEWS scores on admission then transferred to the acute system allowing analysis in real time of any deterioration in the patient.


The Learning from the WCCH project and associated event has been collated into the following documents:

Learning from the Well Connected Care Homes Project – Full Report

Summary Learning Points WCCH

Publication:  Distribution of the National Early Warning Score in Care Home Residents (Age and Ageing, Volume 49, Issue 1, January 2020)

For more information please contact Dave Belshaw.