Digital Approaches to Care Homes
About this good practice
During the initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic the devastating impact on care homes and the experience of staff and residents became apparent. Residents could not receive visitors or external clinicians because of imposed lockdowns and interaction between residents was also limited. From a human rights perspective, it was important to ensure ‘quality of life’ while protecting residents from a deadly virus. The solution was a digital alternative to in-person socialisation and healthcare. A national programme was launched in November 2020.
Digital Approaches to Care Homes was led by Scottish Government delivered with Connecting Scotland, in collaboration with COSLA, Care Inspectorate, Coalition of Care Providers Scotland, Scottish Social Services Council and Scottish Care.
There were 3 pillars of delivery outlined in the ‘The Action Plan for Digital Approaches in Care Homes’:
• Digital Foundations - Ensuring that the connectivity and devices could support digital technologies. Identifying needs and developing approaches for data gathering that supports better individual care planning and the provision of services, supports and activities.
• Digital Services - Improving access for residents to integrated health and care services. Supporting the emotional and physical wellbeing of residents and staff.
• Digital Leadership and Skills – Developing digital skills and confidence of residents and staff.
Funding of £1.5 million. In partnership with Connected Scotland 1,961 iPad devices were delivered to 1,056 care homes despite a surge in demand for devices during the pandemic, every care home that required one was provided with a MiFi dongle and data package for 4G connection. (746 MiFi devices).
Evidence of success
Sector uptake of internet connection and devices was 75% of all Scottish Care homes (1,056 homes).
The program helped many care home residents in Scotland maintain a level of social interaction during COVID-19 and tragically, the service was used to facilitate the last goodbyes between residents and their family and friends. Without a rapidly developed digital alternative to face-face contact the negative psychological impact of the pandemic would have been intensified.
Potential for learning or transfer
There was an initial pilot undertaken in six regional care homes to identify the most appropriate devices to distribute and to identify the associated staff digital learning needs.
An external evaluation was embedded in the programme and there was an ongoing capture of what worked and what didn’t. Some resources were developed as a result.
Collaboration with Barclays Digital Eagles was initiated in January 2022, forming a continuation of the initial training provided by the TEC Social Care Team and the Connecting Scotland Digital Champions training team.