Implementation of Technology in the Care Sector (Guide)
After careful deliberation and consideration, your organisation has chosen a digital technology to introduce into the care services. The technology has undoubtedly been chosen because the benefits are worth investing in. Now, purchasing does not equal a return on investment. Although it’s a reasonable place to start. Before doing so, staff need to appreciate and understand the change and later benefit what’s new. Naturally, the ramifications and implications of the technology depend on its nature. There is a clear difference between ceiling hoists, robot vacuum cleaners, or digital care planning like Sekoia supplies.
Through more than 150 implementations in residential and nursing homes across 4 countries we want to share some of the vital lessons we’ve learned so far. While every implementation is different, we have tried to compile the most actionable tips to successfully implement the technology.
What to bear in mind before you start implementing digital care planning
It is important with a number of things made clear for all stakeholders in the implementation process:
1. Don’t Expect Immediate Results
The implementation process is not an end-goal in itself – rather it is an iterative process. Hence, the owners of the project shouldn’t expect immediate results since an introduction of digital care planning signifies a paradigm shift in the way staff works. This profound change means that implementing new technologies is as much a matter of culture as it is a tech thing. As a consequence, project managers should not expect that everything is working perfectly just because the implementation period is over since that might not mean you’re now fully digital in the integrated sense. Recognising how implementation is as much change management as it is a matter of setting up the hard- and software is important.
We believe that a complete electronic care planning implementation will radically change the way care workers interact and deliver on the residents’ care plans. Hence, this requires time and focus. Since it’s a profound shift in their way of working it is a change that cannot happen overnight. Read more about this here.
Key takeaway: Don’t look at the implementation process as a quick and dirty one-off project. Rather as a continuous way of improving ways of working with your main technologies.
2. Leaders pave the way…
Introducing a new way of working to staff, some of which have worked in the care sector for decades, is often going to be a challenge. However, don’t underestimate people. We see that a bit too often. This is why we always try to emphasise what’s required from a registered manager’s perspective. These people and this role are MVP to making it. Spearheading the transformation must be local and requires a personal relationship with every member of staff involved. As well as an appreciation for the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. Too often has an implementation failed because management did not work side by side with their care staff in order to succeed in the implementation.
Implement Consulting Group recently did a study looking into top management's engagement in change management activities. It showed that on a scale from 1-10 (1 = not at all and 10 = to a very high degree): “To what degree did top management …”:
- … support the project? Average: 8.1
- … actively promote the project? Average: 6.8
- … take ownership of the project? Average: 6.3
This indicates that most leaders are very supportive regarding implementing new changes in their care homes. However, there seem to be a smaller number of managers who are also walking the walk and actively own and promote the change.
Key takeaway: Without the support and commitment of strong leadership, the implementation process will suffer, and in the worst case fail.
3. …But it’s the staff that carry the transformation
If management wants to generate support among their staff it is vital to involve every employee before, during, and after the implementation itself. It is not a given that everyone will be working towards the same goals, as there are several levels of "what's in it for me?". By involving people before implementation, you’re getting the best chances of aligning interests within the care home.
During the actual implementation, we find it important to educate super users to help carry the implementation, manage everyday change, and be responsible for decisions that often affect others. If employees understand and believe in the change resulting from implementing electronic care planning, this will influence their colleagues.
How to identify champions or super users? We have singled out these 5 characteristics of the ideal candidate.
Key takeaway: Train super users to carry the transformation among frontline staff members
Where to start?
So, bearing these steps in mind, where does one start out? A successful implementation requires well-defined criteria depending on the different roles of employees, and these must be clearly formulated so that they can act as a focal point within the organisation. The difference between success and failure is the ability to direct every employee towards the same goal, and the best way to do so is by having a set of clearly stated criteria to strive for.
How to maintain and embed the new way of working
With a good communication and support in place, staff are likely to embrace care planning software. It is important to start out the process by clarifying why you are going digital just now. Is it a radical change following a less-than-desirable feedback from Local Authorities? Or is it to become even better as a residential / nursing home.
Knowing more about the motivations behind this purchase, staff are likely to rally behind it and embed digitalisation into their way of working. By regarding the implementation process as on-going, the focus will not be on the end-date but rather on the positives of the support in the daily routines. To anchor and retain these new ways of working is important. These steps help ensure that staff will not just forget about electronic care planning once the implementation period is over.
The super users are the natural ambassadors. Make sure to train enough! They are often seen eliminating uncertainties among staff during the introduction phase, giving the implementation a higher chance of success.
Read more about the difference between an installation and implementation of a technology.
The final step of the implementation
Although the implementation process is never fully over, the final major step to take is the evaluation of the process itself. Here, the aforementioned success criteria come into play. How many did we reach? If we missed some, how come? What could we have done better?
These questions all rely on the success criteria being clearly defined, measurable, reachable, and realistic (A suggestion could be using the SMART goals model). By evaluating your results, it will become easier to identify areas to improve and start to not only follow best practice but actually create next practice.
In summation, our main recommendations when implementing technology in care services, but in particular digital care planning:
- Start with why and explain your motivation in order to get the staff to embrace it more easily
- View the implementation as a process where staff will grow as they become more confident using the new technology
- Ensure the implementation is backed by managers and key influencers in your organisation
- Involve staff in the implementation by deploying super users
- Evaluate the entire process once up and running to help ease the next implementation
These are our overall recommendations for a successful implementation. We recognise that every organisation is different in terms of composition, culture, and core competencies so some steps might have different degrees of importance. However, by following our recommendations you will have a good chance of successfully implementing digital technology.
Did we leave anything out? Are we just plain wrong in our tips? Let us know what you think of the recommendations! Tweet @SekoiaUK