Paperwork is one of those tasks that just never seems to go away, no matter what industry you’re in. But in some sectors, you will find that the paperwork demands are much higher than others, and one of those sectors is the essential care in care homes. On average, a single care home has to complete over 100 separate items of paperwork every single day. A lot of these documents will be replicating information or duplication or orders, all of which takes up a huge amount of employee time. In fact, many care home employees have reported that they feel judged more on their ability to produce paperwork than to deliver actual patient care. But is this excessive paperwork having a detrimental effect and undermining essential care in care homes?
Focus On Legalities
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that has the balance between prevention of poor care and the promotion of good care completely off kilter. Fuelled by fear and insecurity, care homes are now spending too much time attempting to cover themselves against blame or litigation, often at the expense of spending time with residents. The powerful ad administrative need to provide evidence of proper care has been pushed to the point that it actually negatively affects the care itself. We don’t mean that medical care isn’t given or there are substandard conditions, but rather employees are not able to spend quality time with their residents (which in itself has immense positive benefits) because they are too busy documenting everything going on. This shift in focus from the promotion of good care through patient interaction to the prevention of poor care through thorough documentation is often the focal point for many care home discussions.
Above the time difficulties, excessive paperwork has actually limited our ability to measure the quality of interactions between staff and residents. Rather than being judged on the actual quality of care, homes are instead marked on how well their paperwork has been completed and filed. While we aren’t denying that paperwork is an important part of care home operations, it should be seen as a complimentary, supportive activity instead of a primary focus on quality. Instead, the day to day interactions between staff and residents should be at the heart of every care home inspection and should give real weight to resident participation, choice, dignity and respect.
Every care home has a list of core ‘must dos’ based on key legislation, which are all embodied in 28 standards of quality and care. However, care homes work with a lot of agencies on a day to day basis, and different agencies make requests for information, which in turn need to be processed according to their standards. For this reason, it’s impossible to talk about care home paperwork in terms of a complete ‘set’. There is very little co-operation or co-ordination between the different regulatory bodies, which means care homes are continually duplicating information to meet these changing needs. These unnecessary duplications (which must be submitted in unique formatting for each according to the agencies guidelines) take a lot of time away from personal patient interaction and often result in lower standards of care.
Overall, paperwork is a challenging area for care home across the country, regardless of whether they are privately funded or NHS run. These problems are universal, and can only be solved when care home management takes steps to improve their paperwork processes internally. One of the ways they can do this is through investing in a centralised content management solution, e-forms and other paperwork management solutions, which not only reduce the workload on caregivers through simple searching, version control and easy collaboration but provide the backdrop for a higher quality of care through reduced errors. For more information, or to book your free demonstration, get in touch today.