Digital Confidence is necessary in care homes, not Computer literacy

Smartphones are the digital equivalent of a Swiss Army knife

The UK is a smartphone society. More than 7 out of every 10 adults own a smartphone. For many people, a smartphone is the first thing they touch in the morning and the last thing they touch at night. Smartphones are the digital equivalent of a Swiss Army knife as they have subtly replaced the alarm clock, flashlight, stopwatch, calculator, voice recorder, camera, scanner, newspapers, books, maps, GPS devices and dozens of other everyday items in our lives.

However, many people don’t realise the computing power of the smartphone in their pocket. We went to the moon with less computing power than is in our smartphones today. The definition of a computer has changed and it includes a mobile device. More and more people consider their smartphone not a desktop or laptop computer as the most important device for social networking, getting directions or other online activities.

Given the low adoption of digital solutions in care homes, carers are more likely to use more technology in their social life than their professional life. However, many stakeholders in the care industry today still think that it’s necessary to send staff on “computer literacy” training courses in order to get carers to use digital solutions to improve the quality of life for residents, carers and management in care homes. We had a care home owner tell us one day that he recently spent £3,000 on a paper care planning system because only 1 in 10 of his care staff were computer literate. However, our quick and informal survey of his staff revealed a very high percentage of smartphone ownership. Care home owners and management need to recognise their staff’s existing skills and stop thinking that it’s necessary to sit in front of a desktop computer in order for their staff to benefit from digital solutions.

The problem lies with the user experience design of digital solutions for the care industry.

To be fair, most of the existing care home software is poorly designed and, therefore, cumbersome to use. The problem lies with the user experience design of digital solutions for the care industry. Too many of the solutions in the care industry today are designed by software engineers and programmers that have too little of an understanding of their users. However, well designed solutions are coming to the market that are easy to use, including KareInn.

Any digital solution, including care home software, should be intuitive. Solutions should demonstrate an understanding of its users by building on what they already know and be easy to use. The real test of a well-designed solution is that users should require almost no training to use it. Forget training staff on cumbersome, complex software. Forget computer literacy courses. Use the devices they most likely already use in their personal life and support them to use their existing skills that enable them to spend more time with residents and less time on paperwork.

KareInn is a well-designed solution. Our users find it easy to use and require minimal training. Our biggest users were not trained by us but learned how to use the software from colleagues in approximately 10 minutes. As a result of good design, carers are able to save time when doing their residents’ daily diary. The average care home can realise an extra 1,000 hours of care without any extra staff. Because carers find it easy to use, they also wind up recording more activities in more specific detail. We found, on average, carers were recording 5x the amount of detail in the daily diary, which is important because the regulator is fond of saying “if it isn’t recorded, it didn’t happen”.

To promote confidence with digital solutions, KareInn partnered with Barclays bank on Digital Wings, their program to promote digital inclusion.

To promote confidence with digital solutions, KareInn partnered with Barclays bank on Digital Wings, their program to promote digital inclusion. It helps people who want to learn the basics of using the internet. Anyone can use it, including carers as well as care home residents that want to Skype family in other parts of the world. We wanted to promote confidence of carers and residents to use digital and is not targeted at any specific skill. You can learn a wide variety of activities including instructions on how to use Skype, search the internet and the basics of safety online. AbilityNet has done an excellent module on “Making technology easier to use”. The whole website was curated in conjunction with City and Guilds. We encourage care home home owners and operators to get residents and staff to be aware of Digital Wings is available to them for free and accessible on any device. These simple skills will go a long way in giving staff confidence to go online and use their intuition to guide them. It only requires someone to try.

To hear more, let us know your email at the bottom of this page and/or follow the link to Digital Wings here.

Eric.