Installation vs Implementation: Reap the benefits of digital care planning
When buying a digital care planning system you will most likely have high expectations that the system is going to help you increase efficiency and provide better care for your residents. After all, that is why you bought the system. However, these results will not magically appear once you make the transaction to the supplier of the care planning system. Because you now have access to a comprehensive care planning system, does not mean your organisation knows how to use it efficiently.
The installation process is just the first step toward “becoming digital”. It is only once you have learned how to use the system, that you can start to reap the benefits of it. Many suppliers of care planning systems only provide online manuals and instructions to educate their customers. A number of problems arise when you are left on your own to learn the ins and outs of foreign technology. What if the manuals are not clear and concise? How can the supplier know how digitally adept your organisation is? The short answer is that in order to realise the promised benefits of the system, the supplier will have to be present in person - and not just through lacklustre online manuals.
First of all, the experts in the care planning system are the people who actually made it. They know exactly how the system is best utilised and no matter how thorough the online manuals are, face to face explanations will always be preferable. Especially in regards to a new, and for most people, a novel way of working. Furthermore, the people who made the system are able to explain why the system is built the way it is and know how your organisation will make the best use of the system. It can be a daunting change to go digital and one of the most common fears when digitising is the fear of missing something. To avoid this, the care system needs to not only be installed but also fully implemented within your organisation. In this regard, online manuals can be a great supplement to the in-person implementation as long as it is not replacing it.
Partners - not customers
As mentioned, to fully implement a care planning system the physical presence of the supplier cannot be underestimated. Besides showing a human side to the business it also sends the message that the customer is not on their own. Many suppliers have a classic customer approach and aim at selling their technology, whereas others have a more collaborative approach where it is a shared interest to make the system work as best as possible and more importantly a mutual responsibility.
These providers recognise the importance of getting the employees to embrace the technology because it is their work processes that will be changed. If the provider does not want to put an effort into getting to know their employees' apprehensions or doubts towards the system, then how can the employees be expected to embrace the technology? The relationship between the supplier and nursing home should be a partnership and not just a cold customer relationship. Only when suppliers and nursing homes work together in unison can we start to make a measurable difference in the residents’ lives.
How to ensure your employees will embrace new technology
It is not a given that your employees will like or adopt a new care planning system. Strong and dedicated leadership is needed in order to address the “what’s in it for me” for every employee. Before doing that it is important to clarify why you are purchasing a care planning system. 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.
When you are aware of the motivation behind the purchase, then you are also better equipped to create a strategy for how to use the care planning system. All employees need to know their roles and expectations in regards to the care planning system. Is everyone going to be an advanced user of the system or will there be a combination of super users and regular users? And who is going to train them? These are questions the supplier should answer and to do so, they need to be physically present. If you create champions for the care planning system you increase the chances of your employees embracing the technology significantly. But creating champions takes time and effort which is something most suppliers do not want to spend. Therefore, it is important that you choose a supplier who actually cares whether the technology works or not, and the best way to judge that is by looking at the level of support and training they provide.
Working with a care planning system never really stops. After the system has been fully implemented and everyone is comfortable using it, it is important to schedule regular meetings where users of the system are given time to reflect on their use of the care planning system. Doing so allows your nursing home to continually improve alongside the technology and ensure you reap the benefits showcased in business cases. This reflection is only possible when the implementation has been done thoroughly.
After all, the ingenuity and benefits of a care planning system (or any other technology for that matter) means nothing if no one is using it. It has to make sense for the primary users of the system because, in the end, it is all about the people. People do not become carers because of fancy technology but because they want to make a difference for other people. So when you choose a care planning system you have to pick one that is enabling care and won’t be a burden. The solution is to pick a supplier with a full focus on implementing the technology in your organisation and regard you as a partner and not any other customer.