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Technology may be the missing puzzle piece to increasing access to home care services

By Dan Isterling, Managing Director of Premier Community



Dan Isterling, Managing Director of Premier Community, has first-hand experience of seeing the value of digital in supporting people in their homes.

After partnering with the Access Group, Premier Community is paving the way in digitising the homecare sector to better support both their staff and service users.  

Premier Community is an award-winning second-generation family business that has been providing quality home care services across the Midlands since 1996.

What started as a small business by my mother, who has a nursing background, has now grown to support over 700 people.

We have over 450 care workers working with us and have acquired four Local Authority and NHS contracts.

In the last few years we have grown exponentially, something that came with many challenges but  ultimately, was the best thing for our business.

Digital has been crucial to helping us tackle key sticking points that were inhibiting the expansion of Premier Community across the Midlands.

Having recently won the ‘Digital Excellence’ award at the Midlands Family Business Awards, I think we’re starting to gain recognition for adopting a digital approach to support our business.

The most significant way we chose to adopt digital technologies was through partnering with the Access Group in 2014.

Over the years, products from their Health, Support and Care division (HSC) have been essential in scaling our family business and now we use seven of their solutions, including eLearning, recruitment and screening, rostering, digital care records and more.

These are all connected within Access Workspace for Care, giving us a complete digital hub to manage our services and business.

Overcoming obstacles to growth

Though Premier Community had been running successfully for many years, we were struggling to achieve our mission of scaling our business and breaking through growth barriers.

When it came to managing and supporting our staff, it became clear that we needed to update our processes to improve efficiency.

Our staffing rotas were completed in Excel and our timesheets were paper-based.

Both processes were lengthy, meaning staff invested approximately two to three hours on administrative processes each day.

This cut into the time staff were able to spend with service users, reducing the number of total care visits every day.

Though we have been focused on digitising to see sustainable, long-term growth across the business for a few years, the Covid pandemic made us realise the need to offer our care services even when our staff were working remotely, and store data safely in one place to monitor clients.

Digital tools enable us to access client care records remotely and connect to our workforce to offer the best quality of care, regardless of physical circumstance.

Our approach to adopting digital

When selecting the right digital solutions for Premier Community, it was important that we partnered with a business that shared the same values and the ultimate goal of offering the best quality care to as many people as possible.

We needed to make sure that additional technologies made processes more efficient for care workers.

This was something we didn’t want to compromise on and after exploring a range of different products, we identified Access HSC’s solutions as the most intuitive and user-friendly.

If I could give one piece of advice to any businesses looking to digitise, it would be to make sure the systems you implement are accessible to your staff.

If not, they won’t help, but likely hinder your mission to improve the efficiency of processes.

We started a journey with Access HSC using PeoplePlanner to manage staff rotas, and have introduced six more of their products to improve additional processes across all aspects of our business.

Realising the benefits to staff and cost savings

In the nine years since we began to digitise, we have managed to grow exponentially and are now recognised as one of the most successful care service providers in the Midlands.

Perhaps the greatest upside to using digital technologies has been the changes it has made to our staff.

Processes have been simplified so that our care workers can do their jobs better and quicker, and spend less time on admin.

Not only has this allowed us to support more care needs, but there has also been a significant uptick in staff morale.

Access to a client’s entire record digitally has meant there are fewer delayed discharges in hospitals and staff are able to conduct assessments much faster.

This has helped speed up the creation of care packages, enabling them to set up multiple packages in one day, which was not possible in the past given the lengthy client assessment times.

Now, up to four packages can be set up by one member of staff in a day, meaning Premier Community can offer more care to more people, faster.

As admin processes now require fewer staff, we have seen significant cost savings since digitising.

For every additional 500 hours of care we deliver without needing an additional member of staff, we save around £40,000.

Access Workspace for Care shows us live data on care delivery, helping us to clearly realise efficiencies and see what processes are working, as well as what isn’t.

This has been extremely helpful in allowing us to be responsive and resolve issues that come up promptly.

Having all of our data and evidence on the Access Workspace hub has made it easier to demonstrate compliance to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as well as Local Authorities.

Furthermore, we can easily showcase the benefits of our services and prove our value.

Looking at the data also allows us to set KPIs which challenge and enable us to grow, while remaining realistic and achievable.

The future of technology in home care

Introducing digital into our work streams has proven invaluable in overcoming many of the barriers we have faced – including how we best expand our business.

We have grown hand-in-hand with Access HSC to ensure digital solutions help boost efficiencies so that we can offer our care services to more people, while improving care quality.

Digital technologies have made both our staff and our customers happier, as we are able to provide more care to people than ever before and monitor them from one digital workstream, making daily processes far more efficient for care service providers.

We are currently embarking on our journey into assistive technology with a pilot program of Access Assure, Access HSC’s digital tele-care solution, to create a new model of technology-enabled care.

Apart from the risk reduction benefits that in-home sensors offer, we are especially interested in the proactive data they provide which can detect early deterioration or help our reviewing team accurately assess a person’s needs.

Our experience with Access products has given us the digital maturity needed to synergise effectively and with everything hosted within the Access Workspace for Care, we can future proof our business to deploy technologies efficiently and support our service users in the best way possible.

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