Skip to content

Richard Upshall

Head of Product, Sona

Mark Topps

Co-Founder, The Caring View

Liam Palmer

CEO, Care Tech Guide

Leading the digitisation journey in Social Care

Webinar | 22 November 2023 | 1pm GMT

Digital transformation is essential for organisations looking to be sector leaders. In this webinar, our experts will be breaking down the digitisation journey in order to help providers deliver an efficient solution for employees and residents alike. 

This what you can expect from the free webinar:

  • A first-hand digitisation experience, with Richard Upshall from Sona
  • Best practices for communicating your digitisation journey to employees in order to obtain buy-in and ease the transition process, with Mark Topps from The Caring View
  • Practical steps for care providers to adopt tech without disrupting the resident experience, with Liam Palmer from Care Tech Guide

Recording now available

Six key learnings

Digitisation is about transparency, efficiency and empowering carers.

[02:00 - 07:00]

Richard opened up the conversation with a personal story, recounting his experience with digitising Care providers in the past, and how he always focused on adding value to staff lives, first. It started with being able to put information in one place and spotting the trends in order to become proactive.

“Before, it used to take people days, weeks to get these pieces of paper, shuffle through them, and start to work out if maybe there's a problem. And suddenly, as soon as it was digitised, you were just like, oh, obviously here's my spikes on my graph. Here's what the data looks like. So for me, the visibility of digitising was fantastic.”

Liam followed up with how digitisation can empower staff, even when they don’t believe themselves to be particularly tech-savvy:

“[A member of staff] was feeling, understandably anxious about using tech and how it was a bit scary and stuff like that. And what was really rewarding for me as a registered manager and doing some of the work to digitise the home, was that a few months in, once it [the solution] was embedded in, he was much more confident as a carer. He was more confident because he had great information to hand. What he realised was it reduced the risks and it made him more competent.”

“It's going to be the standard and what we come to expect within the care services that we use,” concluded Mark.

Make a business case with the scope of the product and its integrations before committing.

[08:30 - 15:30]

When considering the idea of an “all-in-one” solution, the speakers agreed that it is highly unlikely for it to exist in Social Care, when thinking about the complexity of the processes involved.

Liam brought up integrations, and Richard agreed that investigating these is essential when choosing a product, especially if they’re meant to manage core activities such as HR and Payroll.

Mark expanded the discussion to include the business case before making a decision:

“So we know that the government has their ambition of 80% percent to be digital. I think we know that the CQC, whilst they're not going to mandate it, will expect providers to be utilising digital for the data and the learning that it brings.

I think from a business point of view, you really need to think about what it is you're trying to achieve and what that long term plan is.

Great communication helps obtain staff buy-in.

[16:45 - 30:00]

Once agreeing that digitisation can bring numerous benefits to providers, the speakers turned toward acknowledging a challenge that many come across once they’ve decided to employ a solution: obtaining staff buy-in.

There are many reasons why managers and frontline teams might feel apprehensive about new tech. Whether they’ve had a negative experience in the past, or they don’t feel confident in their digital skills, it is important to make them feel supported.

Understanding how they’re feeling and why is the first step, according to Mark:

It's all around involving all your employees into those decisions and utilising different communication methods, whether that's teams, or you might have software in place to communicate, but generally just keeping people updated.”

Addressing the concerns above individually and helping people feel validated is what will make rolling-out a digital solution easier and more efficient.

Liam recommended to focus on the day-to-day pain points and show that the cost of the status quo is higher:

“So, for me, then the pain points of having no rostering system, [for example]. We mess up your holiday. We pay you wrong. You walk around. You can't make decisions. It takes ages to approve your holiday. How does that feel? That's annoying, isn't it? [...] And then say: Oh, yeah, really exciting news. There's this great tech out there. Let me show you."

Tech not designed specifically for work-use can have a negative impact on employees.

[32:00 - 35:00]

People can feel more at ease with new digital solutions if they’re reminded that they already use and enjoy tech like Facebook or WhatsApp on their smartphone.

Sometimes, it can actually feel easier to switch from a manual process to one of the previous products as a bare minimum digital solution, but Mark warns that these casual apps are not designed for professional use and can actually worsen the employee experience:

“In the care home that I was managing pre-pandemic, communication was a massive issue when I started, it was written handovers that staff either didn't see because they just came on and something was going on, and we moved over to WhatsApp, which was fine, but I knew that I used WhatsApp because my friends are on it, my family are on it, and actually it then just became an app for work. [...]

And we polled the staff and then we rolled out Slack [a team comms platform] and involved them in that decision process. [...] I then left it for six months and then repolled the staff and it showed that work-life balance went up by something like 90%. Staff were saying: ‘Actually, we're more engaged.’

We weren't really using WhatsApp for exactly the same reason that I spoke about earlier [connecting with family & friends] and so they then become disinterested in their personal and family life because all they saw was a workout.”

“As work starts creeping onto Whatsapp, it has a much bigger detrimental impact than you would expect. You can't turn WhatsApp off because that's normally most people's main communication,” agreed Richard.

Digitisation can be a recruitment advantage.

[36:00 - 39:00]

When asked whether having a digital tool in place could be an advantage in recruitment, Mark and Liam agreed that the tool itself might not be a decisive factor because people generally join a Care provider for other reasons.

However, when these reasons include flexibility, knowing your schedule a month in advance, or being able to give feedback and receive support regularly, a digital solution will enable providers to stand out on the job market.

If you get the tech, it can be attractive to staff because [they] would come to your home, it's easier to work there, easier to book holidays, easier to pick up shifts," said Liam.

Mark added:

“A lot of flexible working is only possible because of the digital solutions that we have in our workplaces. And I think for those kinds of people that have those flexible working arrangements, they would be the ones that actually are thinking: ‘I like my current organisation, but I need to make sure that the next organisation can offer me this [flexibility] as well, because this is what's giving me that good work-life balance. So yeah, I definitely think we should be shouting about it more.”

Young employees will expect a digital culture.

[43:00 - 45:00]

When taking questions from the audience, the speakers were asked whether being digital will be a requirement when it came to recruiting the new generation of Social Carers.

Liam was quick to confirm that a digital culture will be good for both young and mature staff:

"Whether it's for younger people or middle aged people like me, it just makes sense. It makes things easier. It's quicker. It's more efficient. [...] There are so many advantages to using a good, chosen piece of tech.”

Mark expanded to highlight that a good work-life balance is essential for newer generations and digital solutions enable that:

“I definitely think we need to be thinking about attracting the younger generation into Social Care. I think that's the biggest thing. I think we need to be looking at work-life balance and is there tech that enables that work-life balance? [...]

Because actually, if we're not competitive with what the other sectors are doing, then we won't attract them in the first place. And if we haven't attracted them, we won't retain them, either." 

(The above dialogue has been softly edited and condensed for clarity.)