Care Home Management

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Leveraging data science to improve care home outcomes

By Rachelle Mills, director of partnerships & innovation at KareInn

International Nurses Day (IND) is celebrated around the world on the 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Nightingale is world-renowned for pioneering what we know today as professional nursing, but she is also acclaimed for her analytical data-driven approach to medical care.

According to employee engagement research firm Gallup, ‘having the right tools to do the job’ is one of the biggest predictors of workplace stress. The report says that “materials and equipment are not just a checklist of tools. They are the tangible and intangible resources an employee needs to do their job”.   

Utilising everyday data 
Data plays an intrinsic role in the daily delivery of care. Every time a resident’s care plan is created, or an intervention is recorded, data is created. Put simply, data is information that has been translated into a form that is efficient for movement or processing… and care homes create lots of it.  

Data scientists like to talk about structured and unstructured data. The latter is what you have in folders, box files and numerous uncoordinated spreadsheets and it accounts for around 30 per cent of the data available to care homes. However, it’s hard to do much with this other than scan through it looking for clues when something has already gone wrong.

A much more productive use of available data is to use it to predict and prevent adverse events. For example, if data can predict a resident’s risk of developing a pressure ulcer, interventions can take place that reduce the likelihood of discomfort leading to falls and hospitalisation. Data collected over time can reveal a pattern of need that care homes can act on.

Our Nurses. Our Future  

The theme for this year’s IND is ‘Our Nurses. Our Future’. The global campaign sets out what’s needed for nursing in the future in order to address the global health challenges and improve global health for all.  

Technology in care homes is undoubtedly part of that future: digitisation has a real potential to reduce stress and improve job satisfaction by streamlining administrative tasks, and providing access to data and information that facilitates communication and collaboration with the multidisciplinary team. On a regulatory level, the new CQC inspection framework will demand greater use of data and feedback, as inspections rely less on a physical site visit.

The front lines of change  

As a skilled data analyst, Florence Nightingale used data to make an unanswerable case for many of the health and hygiene procedures we now take for granted. In a people-focused organisation like a care home, data management might not seem like your number one priority. But data, and what you can do with it, can be your best friend if you want to improve care standards and create better, happier, more dignified care for residents in care homes. 

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