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Cloudview Health & Social Care Partner Success Story: Care Protect

Gary Flood is an independent IT journalist and commentator @garfage

Why are care home managers turning their backs on a powerful and convenient way to help better protect their residents - and even improve staff loyalty? It’s never nice, hearing about how some callous people treat our oldest and most frail fellow citizens. And regrettably, there’s no need to go back to all those horrifying undercover TV exposes of what goes on in some of Britain’s most poorly-run institutions to find examples. To take just one of the latest: a BUPA nurse who told elderly patients she was meant to be caring for that they were ‘only here to die’, had to have her right to practice taken off her just last month.

But, maybe we should put less attention on these genuinely shocking cases and start thinking about what the wit of man can do to stop them happening. And for many people, the clearly leading candidate for a cheap, reliable and robust tech-based way of doing that has to be use of video - as many concerned family members themselves had tried to do, DIY-style.

Capturing incidents on film for everyone to see could be a hugely powerful way to get everyone back on a level playing field when it comes to trying to work out what really happened - and would surely make patients feel that bit more protected? The problem is: who should be doing that oversight? Pay for it, or wade through all the hours of footage? A company that thinks it may have found a practical answer is Care Protect - one of Cloudview’s most interesting health and social care partners. What Care Protect has done is build a team of fully-qualified health and social care professionals who have a duty of candour to report issues of concern and who are rostered to login to the Cloudview/Care Protect system and cast their incredibly experienced eyes over footage of what’s actually going on in the care homes and hospitals that subscribe to its service. In the words of its MD, Philip Scott - who himself has extensive experience at the sharp end of the social care sector - the service is a highly affordable and convenient way for managers to have an independent third-party professional remotely assess the quality of their service, and report on such. “British care homes on average get two regulator visits a year,” he points out. “That means the most they can hope for in terms of independent auditing is two lots of six to eight hours, per year. Sixteen hours a year is just not enough to fully safeguard clients, help promote the use of best practice and adherence to the latest and highest standards for care delivery - nor is it sufficient to identify areas staff could be better supported with more training or advice. “But using the Cloudview-enabled Care Protect professional best practice support service they can get from us, that help goes from 16 hours a year to more like 720 as a result of two hours of monitor viewing every single day.” A safe place for our loved ones That has to be much better than what we have now. The problem is that it’s only a few care home groups that have accepted the benefits that such a system has to offer. That’s a shame, as one of Scott’s first customers in the elderly care market was Zest Care Homes, where a Cloudview-based monitoring service has been in place since 2015 and which was featured on BBC One’s popular One Show back then. 

Ann Willey, who is the Home Manager for two Zest facilities in the Birmingham suburbs, says that the service Care Protect offers has been a big relief to not just her, but her 110 residents - and even the dedicated staff that look after them. “Residents love the system, as they feel so much safer, but even initially reluctant staff say they’d walk out if I turned off the Care Protect cameras now!” In fact, Zest’s experience of the value of cloud-delivered visual support has been so positive that it even makes it a key feature of its value proposition to families looking for a new safe place for their elderly loved ones.

That’s because it believes use of this independent professional service shows its commitment to high quality transparent care as a way to ensure Zest’s standards are consistently high. The system also creates alerts if certain parameters are breached with the recorded footage sent to Care Protect staff immediately - like if a patient has a fall in their room, the system could, if pre-set, detect such a problem in seconds.

Time for long overdue change

The success of innovative services like Care Protect’s does seem to beg the question of why video back-up isn’t more widely used in the British health and social care sector. That seems to be down to a combination of inertia, the regrettable lack of interest in technology in the NHS - and, in some quarters, perhaps an overly-zealous interpretation of some aspects of the 1998 Human Rights Act, particularly around statements about right to privacy, say observers. But maybe it’s time to think again. For James Wickes, Cloudview’s founder and who has been a tireless advocate for wider, intelligent use of visual data in the public sector, its power and usefulness just can’t be denied for much longer: “It can be hard to justify the use of conventional CCTV systems in care settings, as access to footage cannot be controlled and therefore privacy is not fully guaranteed. “The game changer, though, has to be using cloud, as that immediately means the enablement of fully secure management of all data collected from cameras, as well as rigidly-protected access to it.” That means, he predicts, that the welfare of our vulnerable citizens and family members alike can be monitored as much, or as little as is required - without any invasion of their right to privacy. Let’s hope he’s right - and Scott reports that his unique service is about to be picked up by a national chain of mental care facilities. That’s welcome news… until you realise there are 400,000 care home beds in the UK. Will we soon look back on the days that we ignored the power of cloud video assistance in care the same way we look at the days of the workhouse and cold baths for the ‘insane’? It’s a sobering thought - but something really has to be done about this most distressing failing in the way we look after the vulnerable in this country.