The UK care sector is at an inflection point. From enhancing safety and achieving personalised outcomes to dealing with unprecedented challenges around staff recruitment and retention, care homes and social care providers alike are recognising the need for a new level of visibility into users’ activity and wellbeing. They’re embracing a new paradigm of data-driven care.
That’s why Stuart Barclay of Vayyar Care invited three of the most forward-looking people in the care technology space to take part in a roundtable exploring these issues. Vayyar Care partners Steve Holmes, Commercial Director at Arquella, Paul Berney, CMO at Anthropos, and Ascom’s own Stephen Cavanagh, Senior Sales Consultant, shared their insights and their visions of a new chapter in the story of care.
Stuart Barclay: How would you describe the need, demand and market-readiness for data-driven care?
Steven Holmes: The adult care sector is lagging behind other industries in terms of utilising data. And the potential is immense. Data on users’ activity is an untapped resource that can dramatically improve both the quality and the efficiency of care delivery. Providers understand that. Demand for data-driven models is growing fast.
Everyone’s under enormous pressure, financially, staffing-wise and on the regulatory level. Data is the key to improving both resident and operational outcomes. By analysing nurse call use, providers can spot patterns, understand why there are more calls on specific days, and be more proactive in addressing those issues.
Paul Berney: Care has traditionally been reactive but data is driving a major shift towards a new proactive model. Providers can better understand users’ needs, enabling prediction and prevention. Our goal is to marry the data collected by Vayyar Care with insights gathered by other sensors to build up a comprehensive picture of each person’s requirements. We need to help providers understand the benefits of connected-care platforms; how they convert data into insights that support proactive care.
Stephen Cavanagh: Covid has had a massive impact on the sector and there’s now a real willingness to embrace technology and new ways of working. Data from multiple sources enables person-centred care and creates more efficient staff workflows. Just a couple of years ago, the market wasn’t ready for data-driven transformation, but the successful adoption of digital care records and the insights they deliver has changed the game.
SB: How important is data-sharing within care organisations?
SC: By the end of 2024, the goal is for 80% of care homes to have digital care records. The benefits will include helping to save time during handovers, eliminating the traditional paper trail, and minimising errors that hinder consistency in care delivery.
SH: All care personnel – including agency staff – need instant access to the same data, from preferences and habits to routines and triggers. It’s vital in terms of ensuring the quality and consistency of care. It's also central to tracking correlations between staffing levels and outcomes.
PB: Until all the information is fully consolidated, it’s impossible to understand the full extent of benefits possible. Once care providers know how to properly manage and share data insights, there’s no question it will revolutionise the quality of care.
SB: What’s the potential of new data streams for enabling joined-up care journeys?
SC: The critical thing here is the orchestration, evaluation and integration of centrally stored data and making it available to multiple stakeholders throughout the care journey: users, family members, and GPs. We’re moving away from reactive models towards genuine predictive analytics that support a true holistic approach, incorporating nutrition and medication, with the principles of person-centred care guiding staff workflows at every stage.
PB: When data is shared between primary, secondary, and tertiary caregivers, and with local authorities, it enables collaboration, communication, and informed decisions that support more personalised care.
SH: Increasingly the conversation is about data that can be pooled, formatted, and presented on one cohesive and digestible dashboard. Busy caregivers need easily decipherable and instantly shareable snapshots that save precious time.
There’ll be over a million people with dementia by 2030 and there are already more over-65s than under-16s in the UK. These are challenges we have to address now with new, more effective ways of working.
SB: How would you describe the landscape in terms of the available sensor technologies and the challenges of data convergence?
SC: Moving from reactive care to predictive analytics demands the best data from the most advanced sensors based on technologies ranging from acoustic monitoring to radio frequency sensing. Vayyar Care is central to our strategy for the SmartSense platform, both in terms of fall detection and activity data that helps us create personalised profiles, identifying patterns and trends to enable positive interventions while respecting dignity and independence at all times. That’s where AI is set to come into its own, automating those processes to support human judgement.
PB: Our platform analyses and processes data collected from multiple sensors to create a comprehensive, smart home ecosystem. We’re talking data on movement, temperature, room presence and electricity usage, as well as location, medication management, vital signs, blood pressure and weight. The processed data is then directed to SMS alerts, email alerts, dashboards, call centres and care management software.
There’s so much potential benefit to a sector that’s under enormous pressure, from recruitment and retention to CQC-driven reporting requirements, not to mention the direct benefits to care users themselves.
SH: We’re partnering with companies that are prepared to open their APIs so that we can build a digital ecosystem that will benefit providers, reduce staff workload, and elevate care.
SB: What are the overarching goals for care homes and social care providers in embracing the new model of data-driven care?
SC: Early warning scores that flag up deteriorating health are key to preventing hospitalisations and reducing costs for the NHS as well as care providers. Quality care maintains occupancy for private care homes and keeps people in their own homes for longer in the social care space. Better outcomes depend on breaking down the data silos that have held back care for decades. There’ll be over a million people with dementia by 2030 and there are already more over-65s than under-16s in the UK. These are challenges we have to address now with new, more effective ways of working.
PB: You have to start somewhere. We recognised a huge unmet need to understand what's happening in the lives of care users.
Vayyar Care will provide insights into time at rest, revealing mobility levels, as well as bathroom visit times and frequencies that highlight medical issues. Data-driven insights like these will provide a more personalised understanding of individuals’ needs, saving time and money.
SH: We need to help care providers optimise workflows, staff utilisation, and operational efficiency. If there’s a staff shortage, data can mitigate the potential loss in quality of care.
Digital transformation is a multifaceted challenge: finding the right providers, the time, and financial resources to train staff, and aligning around a common vision are critical. But the rewards are clear to everyone.
SB: I think it’s apparent that the UK care sector has an historic opportunity to achieve root-and-branch transformation that unlocks true personalised outcomes and the firmest foundations for the future.