Hallmark Care Homes cuts audit time by 40% with Checkit intelligent operations
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Hallmark Care Homes provides residential, nursing and dementia care to over 1,000 residents across 19 locations in England and South Wales. Established in 1997, the family-run group has won more than 100 awards for its care; including Residential Care Provider of the Year at the 2021 Health Investor Awards.
The group currently employees 2,150 people who are supported with continuous learning and development and award schemes so that they feel motivated to deliver excellent relationship-centred care to residents.
The group understands the importance of innovation and is always exploring new ideas and technologies which contribute to improving residents’ quality of life.
Hallmark recently introduced Checkit’s intelligent operations platform to digitise manual compliance, maintenance and quality procedures in the estates team. During the initial pilot programme at a single property, data from the Checkit platform showed maintenance issues were addressed 10x faster, reducing the average response time to 20 hours. Additionally, there was a 40% reduction in time spent on audits while the completion rate of routine room checks rose from 96% to 100%.
Managers are benefitting from 24/7 real-time oversight of operations which enables them to reduce the requirement for in-person site visits, pinpoint functions in need of targeted support and drive a proactive approach to problem-solving and performance improvement.
The success of the initial deployment means the Checkit platform is now being expanded across the group and introduced to the catering, hospitality and care teams.
Managers' lack of real-time visibility raises the risk of error
The provision of high-quality care depends on the painstaking work of numerous operational teams spanning facilities management, hospitality, catering, compliance and care quality. However, the 24/7 demands on these teams creates pressure.
In the estates management team, reliance on paper-based processes to collect important data on facilities, equipment and compliance checks was adding to that pressure.
Paperwork placed an additional burden on busy frontline teams, caused bottlenecks and stood in the way of efficiency. Managers were deprived of the real-time visibility they need to ensure consistently high standards.
“My role meant visiting all of our homes on a regular basis to review their records and observe the activity of the teams,” said Steve Brine, estates manager at Hallmark.
“This auditing process involved wading through mountains of paperwork. The time I was spending on site, coupled with the long distances I was travelling to and from those homes, regularly added up to 12-hour days.”
Auditing is vital to ensuring compliance with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and retaining the confidence of key stakeholders – residents, families and team members – but outdated processes were a drain on resources. “This was always going to have an impact on time, and time is precious when you’re caring for residents,” said Steve.
In addition, a lack of real-time visibility over the maintenance teams’ work increased the risk that errors, inaccurate reporting, incomplete tasks, non-compliance and failing equipment could go unseen until an audit check was conducted or a bigger problem emerged.
"Checkit ensures the right team are doing the right checks in the correct time."
Intelligent operations ensure quality control and digital audit trail
Hallmark introduced Checkit’s intelligent operations platform to digitise manual checks and procedures. The Checkit solution provides maintenance teams with digital assistants in the form of handheld Memo devices. Digital assistants prompt, guide and log the essential activity of team members. The technology incorporates QR codes to trigger guidance that’s specific to a particular room. Additionally, all activity is automatically tagged to a specific location and time stamped.
As part of an initial nine-week pilot at Hallmark’s site in Ipswich, Bucklesham Grange Care Home, the facilities management teams used Checkit as part of their regular room checking regime across 57 rooms. This was to ensure quality control and develop a digital audit trail.
Dozens of everyday processes now managed within the platform, including checks relating to:
- Water flushing
- Shower heads
- Bedroom compliance
- Water temperature / Legionella
- Fire doors
- Laundry lint
- Ambient room temperature
- Door alarms
- Nurse calls
The platform also encompasses IoT sensors that continuously monitor storage temperatures in medicine and food fridges. Any variation beyond agreed parameters triggers an alert that can be immediately followed up by checking equipment or moving stock. “At Hallmark, we want to be sure that everything we provide to residents is 100% safe,” said Steve.
Data from team activity and equipment sensors streams into dashboards that provide managers with a real-time view regardless of how far they are from a particular site.
Response times are 10x faster
The introduction of intelligent operations at Hallmark has increased management visibility, accelerated the performance of frontline teams, raised the consistency of standards and strengthened compliance metrics, all while reducing administrative burdens on frontline teams.
Data from the pilot programme showed that within two weeks there was a 10x improvement in the speed at which facilities issues were resolved, reducing the average response time to 20 hours.
Additionally, the completion rate of routine room checks rose from 96% in month one to 100% in month two.
In general, estates manager Steve Brine has estimated a 40% reduction in the time he spends on audits.
“The workload was such that we had to look at smarter ways of working,” said Steve. “Rather than spending so much time travelling to and from homes to conduct audits, I’m now able to check in every day and look at trends. It’s far more efficient, giving me more time to add value into the business and engage in more strategic planning.”
The introduction of Checkit’s intelligent operations platform also enables Hallmark to maximise its assurance of safety. “Checkit has enabled me to take a proactive approach to compliance and performance improvement. It reduces our risks ten-fold because our reporting is more accurate and we can see and respond to trends before they become bigger problems,” said Steve.
In terms of perception, the difference between a good and outstanding CQC rating can have a huge impact on the business. “Compliance is no easy feat in a care home environment. Facilities managers are constantly running at 100%. Checkit ensures the right team are doing the right checks in the correct time,” said Steve. “Being able to audit and track a home in real time, we are now using analytics to track trends and predict non-compliance before it actually happens,” he added.
Managers gain real-time insight into any room checks that were missed or completed late. They receive alerts, enabling them to quickly resolve any issues.
Frontline teams are also benefitting. The flexibility of the platform means that activity such as room checks are scheduled according to localised needs with scope to adjust routines whenever necessary. Managers can rapidly build and roll out new processes or amend existing ones via the platform’s intuitive interface.
“The Checkit platform empowers our teams to lead in best practice and gives them confidence in delivering exactly what is expected of them,” said Steve.
Automated monitoring of fridges and freezers means workers’ time is being directed where it adds most value and loss of stock is far less likely to occur.
The expansion of the Checkit solution to new care homes and teams is already under way. Connecting people, assets and building technology will have a multiplying effect on the digital insight and control available to managers.
"The Checkit platform empowers our teams to lead in best practice and gives them confidence in delivering exactly what is expected of them.”
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