The rising cost of energy, food and labour are creating financial challenges for the care sector. The problem is that managers can do very little about those overheads. So, where can they find savings? The most innovative nursing homes are finding new ways to reduce their costs. And far from making life harder for staff and less comfortable for residents, these changes have the opposite effect.
In a recent webinar on the digital transformation of care, in association with UK Care Week, Checkit’s Will Maunder-Taylor and Meghan O’Donnell outlined proven ways to make care home operations more efficient.
In light of current care home challenges, their advice was welcomed by over 150 industry leaders attending the webinar.
Harnessing IoT sensors to take over repetitive checks previously carried out by staff is one quick way to reduce costs. Further staff time savings can be achieved by replacing paperwork with digital assistants that simplify and speed up compliance reporting.
Let’s look at five ways innovative nursing homes are unlocking cost savings.
Fridge monitoring is essential for innovative nursing homes
For every ten fridges or freezers on-site, staff typically spend an hour-and-a-half per day doing manual temperature checks to maintain safe storage conditions. Given current staffing challenges and rising salaries, that time could be better spent elsewhere. Plus, manual checks mean fridge failures – from technical faults to doors left open – may not be detected until too late.
The cost of lost food and medicines can be extremely high for multi-site businesses. And that’s not forgetting the potential impact on the health of staff and residents if temperature variations are not picked up.
Automated fridge and freezer monitoring provides 24/7 surveillance of storage conditions across a nursing home or group of nursing homes. Wireless sensors deliver continuous readings to a central system which triggers alerts when parameters are breached. As a result, issues are addressed immediately to prevent inventory loss and maintain safe conditions. Additionally, trend analysis enables early detection of poorly performing units that might be consuming extra energy.
Time is saved in terms of checking, recording and reporting. One life sciences company using Checkit’s fridge monitoring solution estimated that the overall time saving is equivalent to one full-time staff member.
Legionella monitoring cuts engineering costs
To reduce legionella risk in water systems, maintenance teams must conduct regular checks throughout buildings. That meant staff members walking around multiple buildings and flushing under-used taps for up to three minutes. This was to ensure water was flowing at a temperature that resists the spread of bacteria.
In a typical nursing home, there could be 40 such taps to check – not only taking up hours of engineering staff time but using around 1,100 litres of water per tap and consuming energy to heat water to the required temperature.
Tiny wireless sensors, the size of a Scrabble piece, can be attached to critical points of pipework to provide continuous measurement of water flow and temperature.
In a recent deployment of this legionella prevention solution, Checkit proved that up to 98% of engineering visits could be saved, plus 1,100 litres of water per sensor. There was also a reduction in water heating costs and an equivalent increase in compliance.
Rapid responses avoid expensive delays
One of the problems with automated monitoring is determining what responsive action has taken place. Checkit has introduced mobile alerting so that, instead of appearing on a remote PC, notifications are delivered directly to the mobile devices of frontline staff. At the same time, staff also receive step-by-step guidance on what to do next. In some cases, engineering call-outs can be avoided with a few simple actions.
The Checkit platform streams alerts into a workflow to save time, stress and unnecessary spending. This approach also minimises disruption for both staff and residents. One care home group reported a 10x improvement in response times after implementing Checkit.
Innovative nursing homes are eliminating paperwork
Nursing home procedures have historically depended on paperwork, which takes time to generate, collate and analyse. How much time do nursing home teams spend going through paperwork, chasing missing information or conducting internal audits? It's already a time-consuming process, and that’s before factoring in routine site visits.
Paperwork from multiple sites is often stored away beyond the visibility of managers. Paperwork is vulnerable to inaccuracy, spoilage and missing information. It doesn’t provide managers with the insight they need to identify more efficient ways of working, from room checks to facilities maintenance, kitchen procedures and safety checks.
By collating information from sensors and digital workflows, in a single analytics dashboard, Checkit users have reported time savings of up to 150 hours per location per month. One manager said the time he spent on auditing was reduced by 40% following the introduction of Checkit. With 24-hour visibility, there’s no need for time-consuming reports. Yet care home compliance can be comprehensively maintained.
Digital assistants support innovative nursing homes
By removing repetitive, manual, paper-based processes, staff get more time to add value elsewhere. Additionally, ensuring patient safety consistently minimises compliance risks but increases confidence in the standard of care being provided.
Digital assistants prompt and guide staff on critical procedures, depending on time and location, thanks to QR code scanning. It means the right tasks are assigned to the right staff members at the right time, which eliminates inefficient backtracking. Managers get a real-time view of performance levels per team, site or region so that inefficiencies can be identified and corrected quickly with the roll-out of new procedures or targeted training. Data-driven decision making is a natural by-product of digitising processes.
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