The coronavirus pandemic has made fundamental changes to the way we do most things – and, of course, social care recruitment is at the heart of OUTT’s purpose.
Covid Safety Paperless
Our newest initiative looks to reduce all plastic items and paper timesheets – not only to improve our environmental footprint but also to affect a safer way of working, in line with enhanced responses to the COVID-19 virus.
As an innovative social care recruitment app, we are always prepared to challenge the status quo when we see a better, faster, easier and safer way of working. Reimagining the onerous paper trails that care managers are faced with is our latest focus.
How Paperless Processes Streamline Social Care Staff Management
We all know the traditional approaches to managing agency and contingency staff, which revolve around printed documents, physical signatures, and triplicate forms.
While assurance and oversight remain critical, we knew there had to be a better way to leverage our digital know-how to reduce paper waste.
Alongside this comes a consideration of COVID safety protocols.
Most of us are now familiar with wipe-down menus, or app-based solutions in the hospitality sector. We believe it is time for the social care industry to get on board with these anti-contamination procedures.
Here is the problem:
- Paper timesheets are completed to record shifts.
- The authorised manager signs these at the end of the shift.
- Triplicate copies are produced, of each form.
It is essential to have a verification process in place and to ensure social care employers manage the hours claimed; however, the implications are profound.
COVID-19 virus particles can remain live on paper for up to 24-hours, and so transporting documents between sites, or having them handled by more than one person, is a distinct contamination risk.
- Increased risk of virus transmission with multiple documents being handled by numerous people.
- Locum workers visit multiple social care facilities in any one working week, increasing exposure.
- The environmental impacts of producing several copies of each paper document create waste, potential data hazards, and additional resource costs.
Here is the solution:
Digital, automated timesheets and located-based QR codes, to eliminate the requirement for hard copy documents, and thus protect staff and patients in all employment locations.
Let’s explain in a little more detail!
Digital Innovation for Agency Staff Managers
It stands to reason that, if we can coordinate networks of social care professionals, high-quality employers and multiple shift patterns into one app – there is a way to incorporate timesheet management into those systems!
The OUTT team has developed a new protocol, allowing employers to retain the same control over timesheet approvals, and for staff to accurately record their hours worked, but without the waste or potential contamination factors.
Here’s how it works:
- Timesheets are available on the candidates’ mobile device, created automatically for completion after the shift.
- QR codes can be scanned online on arrival and departure from the placement.
- Managers on-site can approve the timesheet electronically.
- Employers receive a weekly notification to review and approve, claims submitted.
The same digital processes carry applications across multiple paper trails and document chains used throughout the social care sector.
As the OUTT team rolls out our new approvals systems, we will be introducing further initiatives, all equally aimed at cutting down on waste production and creating a paperless system.
Our drive is to elevate COVID security best practise at a time when contamination risks may be business-critical to care homes and social care facilities, as well as to the safety of their patients.
The Security of a Paperless System
While some fundamental processes might require physical signatures and hard copy documents, timesheet approvals are not one of them.
In researching the sector-wide impact of potential cross-contamination risks from plastic items and paper-based records, we identified that existing systems create upwards of 30,000 triplicate timesheets – for every agency, every single year.
If those figures aren’t startling enough, when we dived deeper to see what risk factors we could remove, and how we could impact overall paper usage, we found that this applies across the board, with cost factors such as:
- Printing hard copy paper documents.
- Delivery packages and envelopes.
- Postage costs for document distribution
OUTT believes that not only can digital systems create a safer social care society, but that we can further reduce employer costs by eliminating outdated techniques.
As we move forward, ID cards with printed plastic formats will also be superseded by a digital, contactless alternative.
Live ID cards, generated centrally with tamper-proof technology, will enable candidates to display their credentials via any mobile device, with the same information displayed in the employer’s OUTT control panel.
ID cards are another traditional element prevalent in the social care workforce – and we recognise the critical importance of staff screening and ID verification – but by making this process digital, we introduce a further development to increase COVID awareness.
Coronavirus particles can live for up to 72 hours on plastic. So, this is not just efficiency and convenience – it might be a life-saving technique to afford the highest levels of protection to our most vulnerable patients.
Our Responsibility to Drive COVID Awareness
There is no sector, family or individual who hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic. As such, we need to work together to create solutions to make our environment as safe and protected as we can.
And, when it comes to environmental impacts, it is hard to find a negative.
In 2016/17, the NHS alone produced 29,062 tonnes of CO2 through paper transactions.
The estimate is that this could have been almost halved to 15,840 tonnes were recycled materials used – but OUTT is setting our sights on net zero.
In the media, we often hear adverse reports about the social care sector, relating to underfunding, mass skills shortages, or out-dated infrastructure.
Now is our chance to make a difference.
The personal touch will forever remain crucial to social care facilities, and make a significant difference in the quality of care and communication we offer to residents and patients.
However, by embracing technological innovation, and being open to the possibility of new systems and protocols, we can move social care recruitment into the 21st Century, adopting safety measures that set the tone for best practise in COVID-19 safety and patient safeguarding.