Co-founder and Director of Radfield Home Care, Alex Green, is a founding member of a consortium of homecare providers campaigning to make social care services zero-rated for VAT. In this blog he discusses the benefits of investing in home care technology for the home care sector.
Technology solutions in the homecare sector have significantly matured in the past few years. They have now reached a pivotal point where improved affordability and utility will make them a key part of the homecare marketplace moving forward. The CQC have already indicated that a good use of technology in care will be key to achieving outstanding ratings in the future.
It’s one of the many reasons why Radfield has added its voice to the campaign for a fairer VAT regime for social care. If the sector is to flourish it needs to be able to fully embrace technology and we need to be able to move with the times – for the benefit of both clients and carers. And that’s why we talk about future-proofing the sector. By securing a change to zero-rated VAT, we will release funds that consortium providers are committed to investing back into their businesses; and tech is one of the areas that excites me the most.
The new wave of technology solutions is focused primarily on passive, in-home monitoring services that record changes in routines. These systems use a variety of motion, environmental and biometric sensors that identify patterns of behaviour that are monitored by AI enabled software. Where behaviour moves away from an established norm, the system will notify the care provider of the change. Changes may be subtle, indicating increasing frailty or an impending illness, or they may be more critical, indicating a fall or acute problem.
These systems have many uses and benefits. Clients typically use them for early support, prior to requiring a visit from a care professional. The system will ensure that assistance is at hand when needed, offer reassurance and improve longer term health and wellbeing.
When used in partnership with a care provider, these systems can alert to early deterioration in a client’s condition. They can help providers to tailor and adapt their support as needs change. They can enhance the knowledge and skills of carers, increase efficiency and can reduce the overall cost of delivering care.
The impact on wider health services is even more significant. A client who previously would be admitted to hospital with a urine infection, could be supported and treated at home, prior to requiring hospitalisation. This will save a costly admission and greatly improve the outcome for the client. We will also see more effective discharge of clients from hospital through improved monitoring and communication tools that prevent deterioration and re-admissions.
Improvements in the outcomes of clients within the social care sector has a direct impact on the costs and workload of the NHS. The social care sector which supports the NHS is in the main a web of small independent providers each working at a local level to offer care and support within their community. Over recent years, costs have increased significantly without a proportional increase in rates paid for care provided. These costs look set to increase further with a predicted doubling of insurance costs following the impact of Covid and an ongoing increased PPE cost burden.
As well as allowing a reduction of costs for providers, making care 0% rated for VAT will allow further investment in this vital technology. It will also improve wages, training and conditions for our care professionals, helping to attract high-quality carers and it will lead to innovative, sustainable quality care services for all social care clients.
It is the indirect impact on the NHS that has the promise of being the most significant outcome. The health conditions causing the greatest number of emergency admissions to the NHS, such as urine infections and pneumonia are potentially preventable and manageable outside a hospital setting through earlier detection and treatment*.
The total number of emergency hospital admissions in 2016/2017 for over 65’s, excluding admissions from care homes was 2,238,380**. With an NHS bed day cost estimated in 2015 at £400 per day***, it is absolutely clear that a wider implementation of healthcare monitoring technology by the social care sector, has the potential to bring very significant cost savings.
*BMJ Reducing urinary tract infections in care homes by improving hydration 2019
** The Health Foundation – Improvement Analytics Unit Briefing July 2019
*** Department of health (data.gov.uk 2015)
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