Oaklands' Rest Home Case Study:
The Oaklands' Digital Journey

Oaklands' Rest Home Story

Oaklands Rest Home is a small care home in the New Forest, caring for elderly people with a specialism in dementia care. Ten years ago, everything at Oaklands was paper-based. Every aspect of care was planned and then recorded on reams of paper. Stacks of sensitive care records were stored in the attic. Analysis of overall trends and increasing needs of residents was ad-hoc at best. Searching through records could take days of manually sifting old paperwork.

The management at Oaklands recognised the need for change and the opportunities that 21st-century technology could bring, but moving everything from paper to digital systems was a daunting task. They decided to call in iCare Services, starting in 2014, as experts in care technology to map out a strategy for migration.

The strategy developed by iCare Services was to adopt technology piece by piece – moving the day to day work of the care home from paper to digital technology one process at a time. The largest return on investment would come from the first transition – moving to electronic care planning and records. Given a solid baseline of devices and wifi coverage around the care home, more and more of the internal processes could be migrated to digital solutions – making the best of the investment in hardware. The transition to a fully digital system was now underway!

Oaklands has adopted all of the following digital systems, integrated onto a common set of hardware devices and making the best use of web-based technologies for compatibility. At each stage, iCare Services were on hand to advise on the choice of software and how best to integrate the new system with existing systems. Smoothing information flow, providing suitable security and maximising the return on investment were all concerns where the support of iCare Services was invaluable.

  • Digital Care Planning and Care Records System

  • Office Cloud Computing for the back office

  • Rota Management for shift and holiday planning

  • NHS Mail for communications with GPs and hospitals

  • Digital Reception for visitor sign-in and out

  • Electronic Medication Administration Records (eMAR)

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to manage room occupancy

  • Acoustic Monitoring throughout the home for falls prevention

  • Dependency Management to track the care needs of each resident

  • Document Electronic Signatures for contracts and orders

  • Staff Rewards System to help with staff retention

  • Recruitment and References for new recruits

Benefits along the way

Increased needs of residents could now be tracked and additional care planned for them. A full understanding of dependency levels throughout the home enabled accurate planning of safe staff levels.

Joining the regional Shared Care Records system (called CHIE) using data from the digital care records has enabled information flow back and forth between the care home and the NHS. GP and hospital data can now be seen by the care home staff and the rapid exchange of accurate data helps to keep residents safe. If a resident needs to be transferred to a hospital, then a ‘hospital pack’ can be produced by the care records system to provide all of the relevant health data to clinicians.

Mistakes around the administration of medication are much reduced by the use of an eMAR system which controls which resident receives which medication at what time, all driven by a centralised plan.

Going digital has made Oaklands a more attractive place to work, especially for younger members of staff. The median age of employees at Oaklands is 39 years, whereas Skills for Care says that the average for Adult Social Care workers in England is 45 years.

New Capabilities

Digital systems have meant that Oaklands has been able to track new metrics and provide new forms of preventative care that simply were not possible with paper-based systems.

The acoustic monitoring system, along with the fluid intake charts has had a major impact in reducing falls in the care home. Falls are a major cause of hospital admissions and putting these new systems together has improved the safety of residents by reducing night-time falls.

‘Outside time’ is a new metric – tracking how long per day, per week, per month etc each resident spends outside of the building. This is a major factor in well-being for residents and is automatically tracked using our activities monitoring system.

Providing evidence to the CQC is much, much easier when your day-to-day work is digital rather than paper-based. Evidence of care planning and delivery is at the fingertips of the management team, as is a thorough analysis of the needs of residents and the provision of safe levels of staffing. Feedback from residents and their families is gathered electronically and can be presented to the regulator as evidence of caring, responsive practice.

Financial Benefits

Since the adoption of a CRM package, fees per resident and total fees have risen sharply as seen in the chart below.

Mission Accomplished

The transition from paper to digital systems has been a long project, taking a decade, one system at a time. Oaklands, supported by iCare Services, strategically addressed the major workflows first to deliver the greatest benefit to residents and staff

The transition is complete – internally the home has no paper-based systems remaining, everything is recorded and stored digitally. In 2023, the management team was awarded Management Team of the Year at the National Care Awards.