Improve patient safety and reduce the pressure on staff thanks to automation

Staff shortages in the care sector are an ongoing problem. The work pressure in residential homes and care centres is only likely to increase as more and more legislative norms are enforced and must be respected. Everything is becoming stricter and inspections will be more frequent. Of course, that is also good news: everyone wants to be able to enjoy decent and qualitative care for themselves and their loved ones when the time comes. On the other hand new procedures increase the pressure on personnel, because these need to be set up and all incidents need to be recorded and reported. This means more work for staff in an area that is not directly related to care. All these administrative tasks result in staff having less time to spend on actually caring for their residents.

However, many solutions are available on the market to help tackle, automate or digitalise these new requirements. The keyword in this matter is “identification”. Being able to identify patients during all stages of their treatment is one of the most important elements concerning patient safety, as an essential factor for carers to provide the appropriate care. This is the reason why growing numbers of care institutions are choosing automatic identification systems to prevent possible cases of human error.

Solutions whereby residents are identified using a bracelet printed with a barcode or operating via RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), not only provide a significant improvement in terms of medication errors, but also improve patient safety in general. After all, smart technology can be used quickly to ensure that the right medication is given to the right resident. This can be quite far-reaching – even to the extent of checking that the resident receives his medication at the right time. This also benefits staff productivity, reducing the risk of human error and decreasing the amount of paperwork considerably.

There are also systems available to help or even avoid accidents involving a fall. Such systems are able to detect and issue a warning (or send a message) when a resident or someone requiring assistance is attempting to get out of bed, or is trying to get up from his/her wheelchair. These are known as fall-prevention systems.

Indeed, it can be a huge task to keep an eye on patients suffering from dementia, confusion or recovering from serious brain damage, and prevent them from wandering off and endangering themselves. Carers clearly wish to keep wandering residents safe, without affecting their independence, dignity and autonomy. A solution for roaming detection and prevention does just that. Each resident wears a small transmitter (tag), and exits are protected by door controllers. When a resident approaches an exit the door controller bars the door, thus preventing the resident from leaving. In the event of an alarm, a warning is immediately displayed to the person responsible, and features the resident's name, the location of the alarm and even a photo.

The fact is that residential care homes often have very limited budgets and therefore are not always able to purchase such systems. However, solutions are on offer whereby a system can be set up for a fixed cost per month or quarter. This means that care centres are not obliged to make a huge investment, and instead have the benefits for a fixed quarterly or monthly operational fee and will know exactly what it will cost them each month.

In any case, there are plenty of systems to help patients and lighten the carer's work load. The solutions mentioned above can release staff of the burden of additional tasks, lighten the load and allow carers to do what they do best: helping people.

Published on:
15 February 2017

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