6 steps to Consider When On-boarding Digital Care Planning | Sekoia

6 steps to Consider When On-boarding Digital Care Planning


When you decide to take the plunge and become more digital there are things to be wary of. We have outlined 6 steps – from the contract signing to the evaluation meeting.

Implementing Digital Care Planning

The pressure on the care sector is no secret. All aspects of delivering care are under review and everyone is looking to optimise where possible. Digitalisation is often mentioned as the silver bullet and can, if implemented correctly, help improve service delivery. However, if not introduced to staff properly, digitalisation can be a millstone around the neck. We have gathered our best tips to make sure you get the most of the switch from paper-based care documentation to a digital solution. You can read about Somerset Care’s experiences of onboarding digital care planning at the end of the article.

Beware of companies that say you can just start using digital care planning with no training necessary. While the care planning system should be so intuitive that you can use it without any formal training, that is not the point of the implementation and training process. As working with digital care planning usually is a radical shift in the way staff are used to working, the implementation is much more a matter of culture change than actual training in using the product.

The focus should be on the when, why, and how to use the system.

Contract signing

Before anything can start the terms and conditions of the contract is clarified. Factors such as the contents of the project and the time frame and scope should be discussed and agreed upon. Furthermore, various agreements as the SLA and GDPR agreements are signed.

1. Technical Clarification

After the contract signing, the technical clarification/alignment starts. Here, it is decided which devices the digital care planning should be done on. Furthermore, it should be ensured that there is a stable wireless internet connection and/or adequate 4G. To make sure everything is in order, we suggest getting an independent third-party company to do a full site survey on the data coverage.

In terms of which devices should be used, we usually recommend mobile phones for the care staff and tablets for nurses, due to the different nature of their work.

2. Implementation Start & Management Meeting

After setting up all the deadlines and the overall timetable for the entire project, it is time to introduce the plan to the local management team. In this particular phase of the project, it is paramount to underline the advantages of the new technology hands the managers as well as their employees. Be clear on defining the local management’s role in the implementation. Furthermore, these ambassadors must believe in the project, so they can convey this enthusiasm to their colleagues and employees.

3. Kick-off

Kicking off with a new tool, and especially one with the profound impact digital care planning has, can be a daunting time for any organisation. Let alone one where maybe not everyone is comfortable using tablets and smartphones.

The staff might have a bit of a hard time adjusting from paper-based documentation and workflows to a new digital approach. Therefore, it is important to maintain the local managers as your biggest supporters. Their most significant task is to continuously explain and underline the purpose of going digital. In short, what’s in it for me? 

In addition to this, it is key to allocate resources to answer any questions the employees might have about this new development.

4. Super user training

When all employees feel fairly comfortable with their new role and the addition of a tool in their toolbox, it is time to train super users. By making ambassadors for the product who truly believe in the value of the tech you are giving the roll out a much better chance to succeed. The super users can assist and inspire their colleagues embracing the change in their work processes.

One of the reasons that most IT projects crash is due to a lack of support from its primary users. By educating super users you counteract this exact problem and resist falling into that trap.

5. Super user work

It is one thing to train super users in a safe and non-operational environment, but to set them free and practice while working is another thing. That is the real litmus test. Begin the process gently and with supervision that will help everyone get a good start. This way focus is on succeeding and feeling proud to be well on the way. Gaining confidence makes a huge difference when replacing one way of working with a new way that encompasses learning new skills.

6. Employee Training & Go Live

It is not enough to dedicate time with super users. Every employee needs to feel comfortable with their new role and the tool they are supposed to use. Remember to spend plenty of time on “why” you are changing the old way of doing things with a new and improved way. Why is it important. What good does it? And ultimately what is in it for everyone? In this phase, the inclusion of super users is very important. They carry a lot of understanding and weight here.

Follow Up & Evaluation Meeting

Many IT projects meet their demise because the primary users fail to see the advantages of the product. You have to monitor and follow up on your employees’ utilisation and thoughts on the technology. Do not treat the implementation as finished just because you have gone live with the tech!

That’s why we advise everyone to revise their experiences regularly to avoid another one of those costly yet ineffective and ultimately pointless IT projects.

How do I ensure the digitisation process becomes successful?

In short, how do you make sure the transition to paperless goes well? In our experience, you need to look at the project holistically. It is not enough to just launch a new product and then turn your back to everything else that goes on. Consider it a transformation process your whole organisation has to go through. The following points should be made in this process:

  • Establish a unanimous understanding of the end-goal
  • Involve all stakeholders to ensure everyone works towards the same goal
  • Create and carry out a set action plan for the implementation
  • Educate super users in the technology
  • Allocate time and resources for the follow-up process and feedback from the employees

Especially when digitising employees are likely to experience a fear-of-change affiliated with this new tech thing. It’s important not to be too scared of this resistance. After all, it is only natural. Focus here needs to be on addressing the topic and through dialogue change it for the better. A clear and well-executed implementation plan will also mitigate some organisational worries and give your new digital care planning system the best chances of succeeding.

The Somerset Experience of Implementing New Digital Systems

Somerset Care has implemented a number of digital systems into its care home and home care business over the last decade. Recently, the decision was taken to introduce digital care planning and care records into the home care division. So, who better to ask about the realities and practicalities of implementing digital care planning?

That’s why we’ve asked Director of Operations at Somerset Care, Andrew Needham to share some of their experiences. Andrew’s role was to ensure the operational element of the plan was delivered, the IT department worked on the technical aspects and both teams worked together to develop the forms, risk assessments, care plans etc in a digital format.

In regards to employee training…

With regards to the training, we found it important to run 2 different types of sessions, 1 for people who were ‘tech confident’ and another for those who weren’t. The software was very easy to use but some people had a fear of new technological solutions as they weren’t familiar with them outside of work. For those people, we found it better to get them together and spend more time with them and do more examples and test cases. The first training sessions run had a mixture of the 2 and this led to people not asking questions for fear of feeling daft and it led to the ‘tech-savvy’ people getting bored while more time was spent with the people who had less confidence.

The timeline of the implementation

We implemented the system in a phased approach, area by area.  We left time in the plan for contingencies. Each time we launched it in an area; there was always a need for contingency time.  Even as the rollout continued we gained more experience and fine-tuned the process but something always popped up and of course, as more people start using it, more things are discovered that need reworking and this can mean going back to areas who have already launched.

On the utilisation of the data generated by digital care planning

Once a significant number of people started using the system a lot of data was generated, the important question then is what to do with the data.  As a registered provider, it is important to demonstrate the improvements we are making for the people we care and support; having access to much more data, in real-time, is a fantastic step forward but the question is always ‘so what?’.  What difference did it make and if it didn’t make a difference, what is the point?

The learning we took after rollout and would strongly recommend to all new system planning is to think about how to use the data.  We have now recruited people across the group to analyse the data, turn it into meaningful actions / learnings and to ensure the quality of care improves as a result of it.  The data is powerful and insightful, I would urge providers to think about how they would make use of the data which is a natural product of digital system implementation.

In short, Andrew's top tips can be summarised to:

Work with a partner who is willing to be flexible in their approach to the customer.
Always plan contingency time into a roll-out schedule.
Plan your ‘helicopter view’ before you start the roll-out.