Liverpool is leading the way in the use of smartphone technology to deliver and monitor care in people’s homes. The city is the first to introduce a digital system with almost all domiciliary care providers – giving instant information about 9,000 vulnerable residents to their families and professionals.
The use of an app allows care providers and families to see when a visit is carried out by a carer, for how long – and how the person responded.
The effect is better informed families and care managers – and improved care.
Liverpool is the only authority in Europe to be using the technology across the city, with all but one of its 18 domiciliary care providers using everyLIFE PASSsystem. It was made possible through a grant of one million Euros of European Union funding secured through the EU STOPandGO programme of which the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast was a key partner.
“We know the technology is benefitting our most vulnerable residents; no longer do we find out late in the day that a carer was unable to visit or a resident wasn’t taking medication. We know immediately and then we can take action – and the family is reassured that the right care is being provided.”
Ann Williams, Liverpool City Council Commissioning and Contract Manager
The first company in Liverpool to use the system was Homecarers (Liverpool) Limited, which employs 300 staff and cares for 600-700 clients.
Their previous system relied on completing, collecting and processing assessment paperwork and medication records manually. Paperwork couldn’t be processed until it was returned to the office, sometimes a day or more after the visit – which could be critical if there were changes to medication or care plan tasks during this time. Completing and reviewing paperwork also took up carer workers’ time during visits, which typically last for half an hour.
The European commissioners’ aim was to disrupt established methods of procurement in the public sector, so that businesses with innovations could be introduced for the benefit of the population.
The Innovation Agency is a partner in STOPandGO, part of the EU’s Public Procurement of Innovative Solutions programme which enables public bodies to procure innovative products and services. The aim of STOPandGO is to pilot innovative procurement processes to improve the lives of older citizens.
As a key regional partner in the programme, the Innovation Agency is uniquely placed to identify local challenges in the provision of healthcare and match them with companies developing innovative products and services.
When Liverpool City Council Commissioning and Contract Manager Ann Williams was seeking a solution to help improve the quality and efficiency of patient care amongst the city’s domiciliary care providers, the Innovation Agency introduced her to the STOPandGO programme. The Innovation Agency, in partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network, then facilitated an open market consultation, a required part of the funding methodology, by bringing together domiciliary care providers and a range of Technology Enabled Care Services (TECS) providers at a brokerage event.
All of the domiciliary care providers represented at the event chose the everyLIFE PASSsystem as their preferred solution, resulting in the adoption of the PASSsystem piloted by Homecarers (Liverpool) Limited. The company was contracted by the care providers, so was indirectly delivering work for Liverpool City Council – which ordinarily they would not have had the chance to do because of perceived risks in securing services from unknown, small businesses. These are similar risks faced by SMEs trying to break into NHS markets.
This technology would not have been brought into the local authority if it wasn’t for the European-funded programme, which aims to disrupt procurement in the public sector, and the Innovation Agency’s unique role as broker.
“The best thing about the PASSsystem is everything’s immediately uploaded to the Cloud. You don’t have to worry about finding, completing and returning papers. It’s much quicker and much easier.”
Senior Carer Natalie Stewart
The PASSsystem is now used by all but one of 18 homecare providers in Liverpool.
The everyLIFE PASSsystem gives carers instant access to a patient’s care plan via their smartphones, allowing them to easily familiarise themselves with the personal needs of a client before they visit. The app also provides carers with a checklist of tasks which need to be undertaken during the visit, including medication assistance. On completion of a visit the carer’s notes, which are inputted via their smartphone, are immediately uploaded to the care management system and viewable by homecare managers and clients’ families.
All domiciliary care companies commissioned by the Council are inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and ratings have improved for those who have been inspected since the introduction of the PASSsystem.
When Homecarers (Liverpool) Limited, who piloted the system in Liverpool, were inspected by the CQC in 2017 they were graded ‘Good’ in all areas. CQC were especially impressed with the PASSsystem, commending it for being more transparent and improving patient safety.
The main lessons learned were:
- Money is never free – there was a lot of work to do by the Innovation Agency lead and by a lead person at Liverpool City Council
- Have a champion that has the drive and the authority to bring about change; in this case it was Ann Williams, Commissioning and Contract Manager at Liverpool City Council
- Have the support of the Board/Senior Management Team to be able to pivot and take a different approach: The first public sector partner in the project pulled out and the Innovation Agency had to find a new partner.
“The PASSsystem has given us a detailed, more accessible care plan that prompts the carer to make it more person centred. We’ve reduced the time carers spend assessing people, allowing them more time with the patient during their visit. Carers now have access to much more information about the client via their smartphones. Care plans can be changed as and when the patient’s needs change. It’s made an amazing difference in terms of efficiencies for our service and quality of care.”
Karen Caffrey of Homecarers (Liverpool) Limited
STOPandGO is being used to fund the PASSsystem in Liverpool for three years. The initiative is currently in its second year, after which Liverpool City Council plans to include the cost in the amount they pay domiciliary care companies for their hourly rate. They do not plan to return to pen and paper.
Homecarers (Liverpool) Limited, the first homecare provider in Liverpool to adopt the PASSsystem, started using it in 2016. To date all but one of Liverpool’s 18 domiciliary care providers are now using the PASSsystem.
Mike Sullivan, Senior Communications Officer, Innovation Agency
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