Embracing technology in the care sector
Paul Djuric, Operations Manager at Urgent Technology, explains how those working in the care sector can safeguard physical, virtual and social infrastructures in an advancing world.
Our physical environment has a direct bearing on our mood and behaviour. It can also massively impact on health and wellbeing. Too cold or too hot, and we’re uncomfortable. Too noisy or too bright, and we can’t relax.
This is why we spend time and effort maintaining our homes, ensuring they’re safe and comfortable. And when we have guests, many of us want our homes to reflect just how much we care about them and their visit.
When we’re responsible for looking after the wellbeing of others, we need to provide environments that are not only fit for purpose, but also pleasant, relaxed, and secure places to be.
Every property needs to be maintained, but when you offer a home to the vulnerable, a haven of sorts, you have to go a step beyond the traditional parameters of maintenance.
Compliance in the care sector
Compliance is essential in the care sector; simply because you’re responsible for people’s lives. The health and wellbeing of these individuals hinges on the level of care that’s being offered, but also on the physical infrastructures in place.
Care home managers can make more informed decisions about their assets, avoiding unnecessary risk while improving reliability. This can help protect a business’s reputation.
Minimising disruption doesn’t just save care homes money, it can also help to reduce upset and distress. When you’re dealing with people’s lives, you need to ensure you have planned maintenance in place; there’s no room for complacency. You can’t just cross your fingers and hope that everything will work as planned – it rarely does.
Tech-assisted maintenance & time savings
A proactive, tech-assisted maintenance plan can free up manager’s time because the information they need is presented to them in an instant, instead of buried in torrents of paperwork.
Less time searching for documentation after an issue has been raised gives them more time to focus on providing the very best standards of care.
How to improve maintenance management
There are many ways and means to improve maintenance management. Firstly, it’s important to have systems to record compliance. That way, you’re protected should an incident happen. On that note, think about moving away from a paper-based record system, because paperwork is open to damage and loss. It’s far better and safer to store the compliance data online.
Most care homes engage with maintenance contractors. If you’re one of them, it might be an idea to monitor these service providers to ensure the SLAs agreed at the outset of the relationship are being honoured. For instance, what’s the difference between how quickly you expect repairs to be made and the actual time it takes? Collecting the relevant data can improve contractor management, ensuring both parties get the best out of the working relationship.
Tracking fixed assets & trend analysis
Tracking fixed assets can give care home managers insights into why a particular piece of equipment needs frequent maintenance, which may prompt the question as to whether there’s a more cost effective, reliable alternative.
Managing assets in this way means you can conduct trend analysis, which will reveal if there is a troublesome asset that needs to be replaced with a different model or manufacturer, or whether there’s an underlying reason for the malfunction, such as misuse.
Various technology on the market can help with these pursuits.
There are energy tracking devices available which can help businesses understand whether they’re using energy efficiently. Care homes need to be kept warm for much of the year, however there may be ways to reduce the associated cost of heating.
Those options will only become apparent when the relevant data is presented.
The Internet of Things
There’s also much talk about the Internet of Things (IoT). This basically refers to the technological and virtual infrastructures that together measure and present information on environmental factors such as air quality, temperature and sound levels.
Then there’s predictive maintenance; technology that monitors the performance of assets, such as a boiler, and which can determine the most appropriate time for maintenance intervention.
CAFM software & the benefits of real-time maintenance data
An all-encompassing tool is computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) software, which presents real-time maintenance data in easily digestible ways.
A good CAFM system should be easy to navigate and the data should be easy to understand for all stakeholders – whether you’re the care home manager or the property director of a portfolio of buildings. From this you can see how many reactive and planned tasks are on the horizon.
You can monitor all aspects of your maintenance programme, from what you’re spending, to how assets and contractors are performing.
Orchard Care Homes and eMaintenance+
The ability to monitor maintenance in real-time was a key driver to Orchard Care Home’s recent decision to use eMaintenance+, a CAFM tool, to manage all reactive and planned maintenance tasks across the UK-wide network of more than 50 care homes.
This technology automates maintenance task handling for Orchard Care Homes, promotes contractor performance management and provides those involved in the maintenance process with real-time visibility through a single system.
The beauty of these systems is that they can be tailored to your property’s needs, and the data can be presented in whichever way you choose – either email or SMS alerts if there’s a problem with any area of the built environment, or via business intelligence reports, dashboards and data grids if you want to see a snapshot of the bigger picture.
No more reams of paperwork to make sense of (and risk losing)!
Ideally, care home maintenance should be seamless, non-intrusive and virtually invisible to residents. It can help to promote the best standards of care by offering quality of life for residents, minimising disruption to their care and ensuring their safety and comfort.
If I could give one piece of advice to care home managers, it would be to promote the importance of maintenance within your organisation, as it impacts all levels of the business.
Find out more about Urgent Technology’s computer-aided facilities maintenance system, eMaintenance+.