Using Whzan to help monitor the wellbeing of care home residents

Rick Mayne is the Registered Home Manager for Sherwood Grange Care Home in Kingston, South West London which is home to more than 50 residents with varying care needs and abilities. He’s worked in the sector for 30 years, five of which have been at Sherwood Grange. Last year his home implemented Whzan to help monitor the wellbeing of his residents during the pandemic. Here, he tells us why he believes it’s been a game changer.

I’ve always been inquisitive and thought if there was more we could do.  Being a residential home our residents tend to be more stable medically, so we don’t have clinical staff like a nursing home would. However I’ve always prioritised wellbeing lifestyle and so we would do regular observations but these were kept on a closed IT system, with no automated analysis.

Listen to Rick talking about Whzan

In 2020 when the pandemic first began I got the opportunity to pilot a digital technology called Whzan that not only takes temperature, pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturations and respiratory rate but analyses them to give me a National Early Warning Score (NEWS) which is used nationally by doctors, paramedics, and other clinicians to identify deterioration in adults. The data is put on a web based system which means it can be shared with permission on a need to know basis.

It’s been a game changer for us. The data helps set a baseline for each resident and uses a traffic light system to alert us if their observations are worse than the average normal. This allows me to ring our GP or out of hours doctor and have a more informed discussion with them over the phone so they can create a more individualised care plan, having a multidisciplinary approach. I genuinely believe this has helped keep our residents safe and well at home during the pandemic, only going to the hospital when absolutely necessary.

Listen to Rick talking about Whzan

My staff embraced it as it only took around 30 minutes of training for them and then a few minutes to get them on the system. Taking the observations isn’t onerous and they get satisfaction knowing how we use the information to look after our residents and being able to share the results with them, a real whole home approach. The kit itself is really portable, comes as a briefcase that you plug into the wall and charge and that’s it.

Usually, we do observations once a week as our residents are generally well. However, when they received their Covid vaccine we took their observations three times that week so we could reassure them and their families that they were well. For a non-clinical person, it’s been great.

Next, we are hoping to move to a point where our wider GP services and out of hours access the data. I know there will be some who say that as a residential home we don’t need this but it’s been invaluable providing reassurance to residents and their families and being able to identify early on if someone is becoming unwell.

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Why do we need a leadership programme for care home managers?

Why do we need a leadership programme for care home managers?

Written by Don Shenker, Project Manager for Healthy Ageing.

At the first workshop day for care home managers on the Pioneer Leadership Programme last January, participants were asked to list the things they did in a typical day as a care home manager. The 14 managers listed 55 tasks they typically undertook on a daily basis – ranging from dealing with funerals, preparing the staff payroll, dealing with complaints, checking medication systems and helping to move beds.

As someone who was very new to the care home sector, I was awed by the responsibility care home managers held and the loneliness of the job at hand – providing high levels of care to some of the most frail older people in society and dealing with the myriad regulations, controls and quality checks from CCGs, local authorities and the CQC. The managers on the programme nodded in recognition when talking about missed lunches, half-drunk cups of cold tea and waking up in the night, worried if everyone in their care home was alright.

To add to this, CCGs are continuing to push their care homes to reduce the number of residents going into hospital unnecessarily and to accept new admissions to the care home even at weekends – all to ease the pressure on hospitals struggling to cope with acute demand from a frail older population. One in seven over 85’s now live in a care home and there are three times as many care home beds as there are in the NHS. To add to this pressure on the NHS, emergency admissions to hospital from care home have increased by 65% between in the last six years (2011-2017).

The Health Innovation Network and My Home Life Care Home Pioneer Programme is a free leadership course for south London care home managers which aims to develop the leadership skills and confidence needed to lead care home teams in a demanding and pressurised sector.

The programme is run over nine months, with managers using exercises developed by My Home Life to improve deep listening skills, focus on collaboration, connect emotionally, discover what is working well and embed positive change together. The principle of appreciative enquiry is adopted – starting with recognising existing strengths as a team and building on that.

The overriding sentiment managers spoke of, to a packed room of care home managers, CCG commissioners and local authority staff on their Graduation day, in November, was how the programme had helped to build the confidence they needed to make changes and improve their home.

From changing how they ran team meetings to encourage staff to speak out, to developing culturally appropriate services and initiating new ways of involving residents in decision making, the care home ‘Pioneers’ spoke of how they had achieved a transformation in themselves and in their home. The programme evaluation shows a two-fold increase in the confidence managers felt in managing their team and their home.

Having developed our original Pioneers in 2018, the HIN is now recruiting a new cohort of care home manager pioneers for our 2019 programme, with the Pioneer Graduates being trained to co-facilitate and mentor the new cohort.

At a broader level for south London, the HIN hopes to support the care home Pioneers to now co-create the solutions required for older adult care with NHS, CCG and local authority colleagues to ensure continuing high-quality care pathways for older residents/patients. Having seen first-hand the remarkable resilience, strength and knowledge gained by the 14 Pioneers, I’m confident they will go on to achieve even greater things.

To find out more information and apply for the next cohort, please click here