Dr. Juhi Tandon, Clinical Director of Cognitant and GP

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised serious challenges for care homes across Great Britain. The office of national statistics estimated deaths in care homes either directly or indirectly related to COVID-19 to be 12,526 by 9th May 2020. However, academics at The London School of Economics have been quoted as saying this is a massive underestimation and the true number could be double this.

Residents in care homes are at high risk for COVID-19 due to age and pre-existing medical conditions. The majority of residents that become unwell with the virus are unlikely to be admitted to hospital for several reasons amongst which frailty is one. Care home staff are feeling overwhelmed and daunted by the prospect of COVID outbreaks within their care homes and feel ill-equipped to manage, this let alone have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to feel safe. Hence, there is an urgent need to provide additional training for care home staff to enable them to safely care for COVID/COVID suspected patients whilst safeguarding other residents in the care home and protecting their own health.

The British Geriatric Society recommends that care home staff should be trained to measure vital signs including blood pressure, heart rate, pulse oximetry, and respiratory rate. This will enable external healthcare practitioners to triage and prioritise the support of residents according to need. Remote monitoring of vital signs have become even more pertinent given the rapid digital transformation of healthcare post COVID — with fewer face-to-face ward rounds run by the GP and almost all consultations being done virtually. If care home staff were able to relay the haemodynamic status of a resident (how sick a patient is — quantified by their vital signs) to the doctor over a virtual consultation then it would rapidly facilitate safe clinical decision making.

Earlier this year, Cognitant won an NHS backed government grant to deliver smartphone-based interactive training to all care home staff. This will provide training about the vital sign measurements required for care home residents as well as when to use personal protection equipment (PPE). Collaboration with the key stakeholders — healthcare assistants, clinicians, and care home managers within social care will ensure the content addresses the need. This educational tool will be made available, through the Healthinote app, to care workers in care homes as well as those in domiciliary care, free of charge, and can be shared peer-to-peer via social media. Users will be asked to complete a short evaluation at the end of the course and will then be awarded a certificate of training.

We are very excited to be part of the digital solution to the healthcare challenges posed by Covid-19, including helping to better educate our social care workforce. This smartphone-based approach has the advantages of speed, accessibility and impact when compared to traditional learning programmes.

If you are a care provider, or work in the care sector, we would really value your input, and that of your healthcare workers, via via this quick and simple survey. All information gathered will help us to ensure that this training truly makes a difference to the community of care providers.

For reliable, verified medical advice and guidance, you can download the Healthinote app here.


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