Health and care professionals from Greater Manchester have worked with tech company Safe Steps to develop a UK-first digital innovation that will help care homes to track COVID-19 and coordinate care with GP practices, social care and hospitals to optimally support vulnerable residents.
The tool will allow care homes staff to input information about a residents’ COVID-19 related symptoms into a tracker, which can be shared directly with the resident’s GP and NHS community response team to ensure that a swift assessment and response can be put in place.
It also means that the NHS can more closely monitor how care homes are doing across the locality more easily thanks to a visual dashboard that displays the information at an aggregate level.
Further developments are also planned as part of the wider digital care homes package, such as enabling staff to monitor and flag signs of deterioration early on, based on the national RESTORE2TM clinical assessment (Recognise early soft-signs, Take observations, Respond, Escalate.)
Early adopter site
Tameside and Glossop is the first locality to roll out the care homes COVID-19 tracker, which has been positively received by care homes. Health and care teams are now able to proactively support the health and wellbeing of more than 700 residents across 25 care homes in the locality, looking out for signs of COVID-19 and taking swift action.
The solution has been developed as part of a partnership formed by Health Innovation Manchester (HInM), including the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, Tameside Council, local GPs and Safe Steps.
Prof Martin J Vernon, Consultant Geriatrician and Clinical Director at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS FT, said: “The COVID-19 care homes data tracker provides real-time information to clinicians about the status of patients, supporting proactive care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Clinical teams in Tameside and Glossop are now using the dashboard to optimally support care homes and their residents during the pandemic.
“The tracker will streamline and speed-up this data collection – making it possible to access a real-time dashboard which will help us make the right strategic decisions at pace.”
Dr Saif Ahmed, GP and Clinical Lead, said: “The care homes data dashboard provides invaluable information to GPs about the most up to date status of their patients allowing proactive management and care for the most vulnerable in our society.
“We can easily identify those patients who need advanced care planning by picking up signs of deterioration as soon as they start to happen. This will act as an invaluable decision support tool around intervention from primary care.”
Sir Richard Leese, chair of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We know that older people are susceptible to some of the worst consequences of coronavirus, so it’s vital that care homes and their residents receive the support they need as quickly as possible.
“This new tracker will allow GP practices, social care professionals and hospitals to all work together to make sure care home residents are getting the help they need, when and where they need it. It will also allow us to better understand the situation in all care homes across Greater Manchester. This means we can focus our efforts in mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in care homes, as much as possible, by using resources where they will make the greatest difference.”
Health tech partnership
Health Innovation Manchester works with innovators to develop their products and services to support the NHS and social care. As well as developing and deploying the solution, HInM will also be undertaking an evaluation to measure impact.
Jay Hamilton, Associate Director at HInM, has overseen the programme. She said: “The collaborative effort of our health, care and industry partners in developing this novel solution has been exceptional and we are now working with all localities to deploy it across the whole of GM as part of our COVID-19 response. This is exactly what Health Innovation Manchester is here to do – forming partnerships with industry to benefit patients and services.”
Liverpool-based Safe Steps Managing Director, James Chapman, added: “When the current pandemic really started to accelerate we decided to use our technology and experience in this sector to rapidly build a new app – not because we had to, but because the team here are passionate about doing everything we can to help our ageing loved ones, relatives, neighbours stay safe.
“Being able to play a small part in the NHS response to the current crisis is both humbling and motivating at the same time. I’m really proud of my team for stepping up to the challenge, but we also know the real heroes are the NHS workers on the frontline – we are just trying to support them.”