Four things you must consider before moving to a digital care plan

Congratulations, you’re thinking about going digital, but now you’re not sure where to start. Worried about how it might impact your staff? Sceptical about whether it will deliver value? Concerned about how you are going to win over internal stakeholders? We’ve supported many of our customers with these issues and so we thought it would be useful to write this post to help you on your journey to digital. 

1. Prepare for managing change

Moving from your existing paper based or digital care planning process is not just about system implementation, it will also involve managing change, be that behavioural or cultural for your organisation. We recognise this in how we partner with our clients. Each individual in your organisation will be impacted in a different way. The move from paper to digital is especially significant. Take your IT manager for example, as a result of implementing a new system their remit will expand to include a degree of ownership for the Care Plan. Recognising how they feel about this and agreeing where their responsibility starts and ends is crucial to a positive implementation.  You also need to recognise that some people will find change hard. Identify how you will manage this in advance and introduce elements that will make this a positive and enjoyable journey. We like to mark the launch day and make this a fun occasion.  The staff most opposed to the change will end up becoming your biggest advocates and change agents if you prepare in the right way.  When you are meeting with software companies, ask them how they also plan to support your cultural change to help ensure your long term success.

2. Insist on an evaluation. They are your friend (and ours too!)

We want everyone who enters an evaluation period with our software to become a customer. If the companies you are liaising with are confident that you will love their system and service then ask them for an evaluation period before having to sign any long term contracts. Evaluations have two distinct benefits. They give you an opportunity to try before you buy and ensure the partnership works well for your business, and whether the system works well in practice. The second benefit is that is allows you to provide evidence to any internal sceptics.

For the first, you should be thinking about whether the system is flexible, and fits seamlessly with how you run your home or whether you are having to adapt styles to suit the system.  This is in the interest of the software provider too, it allows them to gain valuable feedback and to build a meaningful partnership with you, making it much more likely that you will continue to be a customer for many years to come.

For the second benefit of providing evidence, think about introducing the system to a control group of residents so that you can set up a comparison experiment.  An example of this would be introducing the system to just ten residents on one floor of your home and keeping the other floors as a normal control to compare against. In this way you can soon start demonstrating achievements against your success critiera. If you are clear on your evaluation criteria in advance (see point four), this is an opportunity to collect evidence to support your decision making. A nice ancillary benefit is that this creates a pull effect, where carers outside of the evaluation group want to learn more about the system, and when they start seeing the benefits it has to offer they want to know how quickly they can have it too!

So when customers want to run head long into the digital world we always encourage them to slow down, evaluate and build up a level of trust that will hopefully create a lasting partnership for many years to come and make the internal transition that bit easier to manage.

3. Spend the most time with your biggest sceptic

Early on in our journey, we went to train a few carers at a home. We sat down to start the session and it became apparent that one carer was particularly opposed to the introduction of our software. Why? Well we never found out the underlying reason. Nervous of change, a dislike of technology, or just a bad day. But we made sure we spent just a little more time with her and slowly but surely, she became convinced of the merits of our app.

She is now one of the biggest advocates of the app, regularly sends us feedback on how to improve the system and even teaches other staff how to use it. Amazing. The other members of staff look to her as a bellwether - this is a classic change management technique. If you can make your biggest sceptic an advocate of the system, the rest of your team will more easily follow suit. The key consideration is that there will be people opposed to the change, but they might just become your biggest advocates if you spend a little time helping them on their journey.

4. Work out what value you want from going digital

Before you start your journey it's vital that you know what it is you want to achieve. It sounds obvious, but not knowing becomes the source of uncertainty as your journey progresses. So set out your goals early on. Don't worry it doesn't have to be complicated. What do you want going digital to accomplish? Why are you even doing it in the first place?

Each company has a slightly different answer to these questions. Here are some examples:

  • We want daily diaries to take a 1/4 of the time it currently takes each carer;
  • We want to be able to provide more care at point of delivery;
  • We want to improve staff morale by giving them better tools to care with;
  • We want to provide better insights into residents wellbeing;
  • We want to replace a paper process that is cumbersome and time consuming;
  • We want to utilise our carers social media and mobile skills in their working life
  • We want to provide more personalised care; and
  • We want to increase the transparency of what is happening across the company

(Psst, our app does all of the above!)

For some it is all about productivity, others about providing better care. For almost everyone it is about a combination of factors. All we ask, is that you consider the value of doing this and what is important to you, and then come up with a way of measuring it between control groups.  This allows you to perform a temperature check once a week and a full review half way through your evaluation period to ensure your implementation remains on track. We agree with our clients their success criteria upfront and then use it to generate bespoke reports throughout the evaluation period.  It makes for a solid partnership between you and us if we know what your aspirations are from the beginning.

If you would like to know more about what we are doing, evaluate our product, or pick our brains on industry best practice, please do get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

Alex