Case Study: How remote monitoring is improving access to Primary Care for Care Home residents in Lincolnshire

Manor Care Centre’s ‘Virtual Ward’, enabled by CliniTouch Vie, provides a safe way for carers and clinicians to manage patients during COVID-19.

Background

During the onset of COVID-19, GP practices across the UK were facing increased demand for delivering primary care for their patients in care homes. Both care homes and GP practices struggled to find solutions that provided care that was safe for patients, carers and clinicians.

The Enhanced Health in Care Homes (EHCH) Directed Enhanced Services (DES) for Primary Care Networks have a strict set of requirements that will challenge the Networks and GP practices to deliver on. The DES has a clear goal that every patient, no matter where they reside, has the best possible care, with rapid access to specialist advice when necessary. As a result, the pandemic has seen the emergence of new ways for NHS clinicians to connect with their patients, with digital technology gaining widespread adoption.

In order to address this growing demand, Manor Care Centre, a care home in the small village of East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, has been working collaboratively with its local practice, Spilsby GP Practice, on the implementation of the CliniTouch Vie remote monitoring platform from Spirit Digital, part of the Spirit Health Group of companies. Manor Care centre has been using the digital platform since May to provide continuity of care for its 40 residents in the safety of the care home, as Kay Harrison, Care Home Manager, Manor Care Centre, explains

“During COVID-19, it has become increasingly evident that digital technology such as CliniTouch Vie has a huge role to play in supporting the care and safety needs of patients in the community and clinical teams,” she says. “On the one hand, we needed a solution to deliver care safely for our residents during the pandemic, but the benefits in practice have greatly exceeded both our and our residents’ expectations to the point where it is absolutely the way forward, with or without COVID.”

Using CliniTouch Vie

Manor Care Centre has deployed Spirit’s CliniTouch Vie solution. This includes a digital health platform and associated peripheral devices. The solution allows real-time biometric and wellbeing data to be collected and entered into the digital platform for its residents by the patients’ carers in the home. Unique algorithms automatically calculate a Red/Amber/Green risk rating, which are monitored by their dedicated clinician and forms part of each patient’s care plan as set out by their GP at Spilsby Practice.

The platform is virtually used to support the weekly ward rounds between the home and the practice. With ward rounds taking place every Friday, each resident’s health and wellbeing data is completed on Thursday, giving GPs time to review the information in advance, giving them more opportunity to consider the best possible treatment, improve the speed of communication with carers and any intervention that might be required. In addition, GPs can amend the care plans of individual patients with specific medical requirements to be monitored more frequently, while carers can also instigate an immediate virtual ward round to address specific concerns as they arise.

As Kay explains, “Before we implemented CliniTouch Vie, there were inevitably delays in accessing primary care and medication. Our carers often faced the difficult decision of whether a resident’s condition required more urgent intervention, which would mean calling out a GP, or whether they had a minor issue that could wait to be addressed on the weekly ward round. Especially during the pandemic, those decisions became even more difficult because of a duty of care to keep our residents safe and the desire to minimise the pressure on local health services.

“The digital platform has fundamentally changed that. Not only has it increased the efficiency with which we are able to address infections, access medication and ensure continuity of care for patients with long-term conditions, it’s also massively reduced the paper administrative burden and has greatly improved communication between our carers and our GPs. It’s removed a lot of guesswork as to whether we were making the right decision or not.”

Unexpected Benefits

In addition to improving access to care while ensuring safety of both residents, staff and clinicians, Manor Care Centre has also seen a change in the confidence and moods of its residents and carers.

“Seeing their GP through a digital device has proven at least as welcome amongst our residents as seeing them in person,” Kay comments. “They believe they are seeing the doctor at least once a week and are getting a great service. And, because we are taking clinical observations more regularly ourselves, everyone’s confidence and mood has improved.

“CliniTouch Vie has empowered carers and patients’ self-management through a managed, holistic care model that supports patients within their care home setting. I can’t see us going back to a care model that doesn’t have digital, remote monitoring at its core,” she concludes.