The real impact remote monitoring has on care home residents and those who care for them

May 18, 2023

Project Manager at the Health Innovation Network Andrew Scott-Lee reflects on the learnings from an evaluation of more than 170 London care homes using remote monitoring.

The use of Remote Monitoring (RM) technology to monitor physical health conditions outside of hospital has increased rapidly in recent years, and in particular since the Covid pandemic. This growth in use has also been seen in care homes where the technology has been introduced to enable monitoring of residents’ health at home and to improve the chances of identifying deterioration quicker.

Our evaluation of the implementation of remote monitoring in 173 care homes across four London Integrated Care Systems in 2021 found that 73% of homes continued to use the equipment months after implementation. Many care home staff reported benefits to them, residents, and the wider healthcare system.

The report highlights the confidence that RM instils in care home staff, who are often not trained to the same level of nurses or doctors. Utilising the physical health monitoring kit, baseline health data is collected, and guidance is available so that appropriate action can be taken when readings change. Training in use of the technology empowers staff to interpret observation readings and communicate effectively, confidently and in a clinically appropriate way with GPs, urgent care, and ambulance services.

I was able to explore in detail the approach that South West London (SWL) Integrated Care System took to implement RM in care homes, by undertaking a series of interviews with staff who led the digital transformation, and care home managers. The experience of these staff is described in this report.

You can see from the report that SWL’s Integrated Care System has made impressive progress in implementing digital transformation in care homes. My conversations with staff also highlighted the challenges faced by the care home sector in general in making the transition to digital ways of working.

Prior to the pandemic, many care homes predominantly used paper-based approaches for tracking and monitoring resident care, so the transition to digital monitoring requires - for some - a change in mindset. Care homes continue to experience high staff turnover rates, making it difficult to embed change. The amount of training and on-going support for digital transition may vary across different geographies, which impacts a home’s ability to sustain a digital transition once they have begun the journey.

Despite challenges, the commitment of care home staff to do what is best for their residents dominates. Although RM remains in its early stages of adoption in care homes overall, care home staff and GPs recognise its value.

Further evaluation may demonstrate that more consistent early identification of deterioration could result in fewer 999 calls and ambulance conveyances from care homes, and shorter, more appropriate hospital attendances and admissions.

Technological advances offer the potential for health and care services to work even better together to ensure that care home residents receive the right care, in the right place and at the right time, and services are used as efficiently as possible.

This can only be good news for care home residents, and the people who support them.

Download the report

Find out more about the impact of remote monitoring in care homes in our full evaluation report.

Download here