Let’s demand more personalisation of social care tech  - Sekoia

Let’s demand more personalisation of social care tech 

A nurse is giving orange juice to a resident

Technologies in our space leave a lot to wish for when it comes to their ability to factor in individual requirements. Like personal wishes, interests and needs. Very unlike our personal mobile apps. Which makes us ask, why don’t we demand more personalisation of social care tech? 

At the recent mega show in London Excel, the Residential and Home Care Show, we were invited by the organisers to speak about personalisation. 

Once we were digital Jamie Olivers 

A long time ago, before deploying our hearts and minds into social care digitalisation, we worked on a project for school meals. It was called Lunchbox. We wanted to make sure that kids were served a decent meal, whilst parents would pay, track and learn on the go. 

As the story goes, we didn’t make the cut. Down the line, other companies managed to take over the agenda and serve the world with on-demand ordering, choice and transparency alongside kids’ school meals. 

Back to the bath 

Despite not making a business out of Lunchbox, the story reminds us of Sekoia’s start-up, and the relevant debate recently raised by the Buurtzorg type of home care. Can we as individuals influence our own care and support plan? 

Let’s say someone prefers a walk over a weekly bath. Or vice versa. Whose plan is it then? And how much does it reflect our personal preferences and thoughts? 

Remembering a staff-shadowing exercise when launching Sekoia. A care assistant was gently supporting an elderly man bathing. When she’d finished, we asked her how she knew his routines so well. No surprise, she had often visited him before.  

However, in her system, this entire activity was described with a single word, “bath”. Not very personal and supportive. 

Learning from Netflix and other giants 

Looking at other sectors and particularly some commercials giants, there are things we ought to adapt. We all appreciate the convenience of our Netflix experience. Kindly reminding us of shows we’re watching, similar content and other personalised clues. 

Imagine what Netflix would do with “activities coordination” in social care. Consider this:

  • Netflix carries out A/B tests to 100,000 viewers 250 times per year to find the right landing cards for each of its shows 
  • They use AI and machine learning to optimise their recommendation algorithm. Looking at viewing data and search history to predict what’s worth a personal clue 
  • They look at what device we’re on and what time of day we log in to make sure their recommendation is in line with predicted bias 
"We must ask technology developers to consider not just what makes people safe, but how to make people feel more comfortable, and how to make them feel at home..."
Vic Rayner, National Care Forum’s Chief Executive

Wonder what this kind of personalisation would do for activity engagement? And for outcomes! Oomph on Demand is trying to crack that nut right now. 

A company like Deliveroo have attracted more than £1 billion to get to where they are now. And if your pizza gets delivered to the next-door neighbour their primary consequence is a bad review. In social care, if someone’s Parkinson’s medicine is given to your next-door neighbour… 

Incomparable pressure and a new window of opportunity  

The pressure in this sector is incomparable to many other sectors. Yet, the funding of those seems remarkably better. 

Quality assurance, compliance, staffing, training, efficiency, diversification, and the financial impact of Covid already has a lot of providers struggling. Add to this rising demand from a growing number of people that draw on services with their families adjusting their expectations to their Netflix and Deliveroo experiences.

This consumerisation trend will not let any provider organisation off the hook before we start harnessing personalisation. Of course, no individual or organisation can control the trends on their own, but we’re all free to compromise, prioritise and choose what we believe is right. 

This goes for social care tech as well. As in all professional work, tools are important! Shaping the world we admire, instructing everyone in the organisation and enforcing a way of working that’s compatible with our dreams. There won’t be a silver bullet piece of tech though. The hammer can never build a house on its own. Likewise, tech won’t magically make social care more personalised. But we do need to demand more opportunities to personalise through our tech. More Netflix and less bureaucracy.