Facebook for eldercare
Focusing more on the person is what a new IT initiative by Lien Foundation will do for seniors in several nursing homes and day care centres.
BY: Eleanor Yap
Family members can get a glimpse of what happens to their loved ones in a nursing home or at a day care centre thanks to a S$3.32 million initiative by Lien Foundation that will give an IT boost to the eldercare sector. Similar to what is done on social media, these family members can follow their loved one’s journey such as activities or events that they participate; see latest vital signs, care information and observations by the care staff; and read their life stories, and see and comment on posted pictures. They can even communicate with the care staff through the Family Portal, which is particularly helpful especially for family members who might be overseas.
The all-in-one system called IngoT PCC (Person-Centred Care), designed by local IT solution provider Pulsesync, will not only digitalise the current manual labour and paperwork that care staff have to deal with on a daily basis but also gets family members more involved and updated about their loved one’s care. To date, according to Lien Foundation, the eldercare sector is “still over-medicalised”, with IT systems that are largely focused on helping eldercare service providers manage their operations, clinical care and regulatory reporting requirements, rather than information on individual’s social or life story. The new system is also different from NHELP (Nursing Home IT Enablement Programme) by the Agency for Integrated Care, which helps to improve patient care and boost productivity with IT in nursing homes.
IngoT PCC will enable the service providers to view their clients more as “persons”, rather than “patients”. There will be Facebook-like profiles that capture the seniors’ social and life histories, interests and dislikes, values and more. The system can also be used to record a client’s daily activities such as how much he or she ate, his or her exercise regime, his or her mood and bahaviour, all of which can then be charted to spot physical or psychosocial danger signs, similar again to what social media is doing in mining data. Lien Foundation’s CEO Lee Poh Wah said that the updatable and continuously-evolving electronic portraits thus created, will, in turn provide better informed care. For instance, all this information can help social care planners plan programmes better, and a dietician can access a page to see his or her client’s food preferences and intake history.
Specifically, the system will include a Family Portal which is accessible and can be updated by family members. For care staff, there will be a Workplace landing page detailing a bulletin/announcement board, calendar, to-do list and useful widgets like a weather forecast. Also for care staff, there will be a Care Board for the staff to manage their list of clients, individuals’ profile pages detailing their clients’ information including medical and diet, Dashboard & Quality Indicator to view their KPIs and quality indicator, and a Moments page where they can share and comment on posts and photos.
The system will also have a Partner’s Portal which allows general practitioners and family service centres to log in and view the care information. Plans are afoot in putting a self-service kiosk for day care clients so they can update their own profiles and preferences, sign up for upcoming events, view outing photos, etc, hence involving them also in their care journey.
Uniting the eldercare sector
Beyond what the new system provides to family members and care staff, it will also unite 11 eldercare providers such as Apex Harmony Lodge, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, Ling Kwang Home, Man Fut Tong Nursing Home, The Salvation Army Peacehaven Nursing Home, St Joseph’s Home, St Andrew’s Nursing Home, Code 4 Home Care, PAP Community Foundation Senior Care Services, TOUCH Home Care & Senior Cluster Network and St Hilda’s Community Services, who together serve 6,000 clients. Three more service providers will be added later. According to Lien Foundation’s Poh Wah, these voluntary welfare organisations pay no money but need to be committed to attend regular workgroup meetings and be ready for the hard work ahead as full deployment is expected by 2019.
Shared Tan Song Mong, director, Senior Care Division, PAP Community Foundation, which offers day care and rehab services, “[The system] will leapfrog our delivery system.” He explained that PAP was collecting client information manually for a long time and was looking for a system. “We have five to six records when assessing the seniors when they come in. You can imagine the volume. And when a care staff goes on leave, the next care staff has to search through records to get to know the client. This new system will definitely improve productivity.”
And for Low Mui Lang, executive director of The Salvation Army Peacehaven Nursing Home, which has residential care, day care and home care services, said that sometimes her care staff communicates with their clients’ family members through exercise books which detail their care plans and more. She shared that having such an automated system in place can also keep peace in the environment – “There is no need for conflict when staff might lose paperwork.” She added that having the new system can save at least one staff headcount and the organisation can then focus its attention on its clients.
Mui Lang also said that usually there is one computer shared by a number of staff when they need to input data but with the new system, the staff can easily input the data onto a mobile device or a tablet. All this bodes well for the service providers in providing better care to their clients; for family members, when it is up, to get more involved in their loved ones’ care; and for clients to feel they are more involved in their care process.