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Grant Reilly


31st August 2021


Innovative Care Homes app for residents with suspected COVID-19.

Tuesday 31 August, 2021

A new Care Home Assessment Tool (CHAT) has been collaboratively developed in Scotland to support faster, shared decision making for residents with suspected COVID-19.

CHAT was introduced into two Care Homes in Biggar and Glasgow in July 2021, where qualified nurses can use the tool to carry out resident assessments and then electronically transfer these to their local GP practice to inform decisions on appropriate treatment and care.

The CHAT development has been led by the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI) and Scottish Care in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland, Thistle Healthcare Care Homes, Cartvale Care Home, Glasgow City HSCP, South Lanarkshire HSCP, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire, Care Inspectorate, and the Local Government Digital Office.

Where previously care home staff would record resident data in free text notes and then relay that information to the GP over the telephone, CHAT provides a structured and consistent format within a mobile application.  It prompts staff to record details relevant to the care home setting including capturing soft signs of deterioration e.g just not themselves, along with specific COVID-19 symptoms and vital signs measurements.   GPs then receive a digital summary of the assessment integrated within their normal workflow and ICT systems.

The information collected is securely saved onto the residents’ assessment record and accessible to other care home staff who may come on shift later that day.   All data is stored securely on the NHS Education for Scotland TURAS platform.

The next stage of the project will see CHAT extending to additional Care Homes and GP practices over the next few months, along with an exploration of its applicability for wider usage outwith COVID-19.

The application was designed using World Health Organization COVID-19 guidelines with input from Scottish clinicians and is based on a familiar SBAR format.  The application development has been undertaken by NES Digital, building on an earlier prototype from a Scottish SME, Daysix.

Iain Hathorn, Clinical Director of Primary Care in NHS Lanarkshire, said:

From a general practice perspective, it is invaluable to have the structured detailed clinical information which this tool provides when the deterioration in a patient’s condition is being escalated from a care home setting.  This provides a clear picture of the situation and enables general practitioners to prioritise and respond with an appropriate degree of urgency.   The fact that this information comes electronically into our existing mail systems is a great benefit.  Not only will this tool be of benefit in the context of Covid, but it also has the potential be very valuable with the escalation of other causes of deterioration."

Moira Mackenzie, Deputy Chief Executive for the Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre, said:

This is an exciting collaboration, which although born out of a need for an urgent response to the Covid pandemic and its particular impact on our care homes, has the capability to support a much wider approach to digitally integrating care across the NHS, public and independent care sectors.

Karen Hedge, National Director, Scottish Care

‘On behalf of our membership of independent care providers, Scottish Care has been championing the ethical use of digital tools for some time. CHAT can enhance direct care for care home residents and support digital upskilling of our dedicated workforce.”

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