In the media

Home care planning can be significantly improved with a tool-supported approach

By Tommy Søjberg Wiborg, Jon Hjorth-Jørgensen, Anna Madsen


29 August 2022

Read the original article in Danish here.

It is possible for municipalities to work more uniformly and in a more structured way in their planning of home care and so get much more out of both their resources and skills. Municipalities’ ability to plan the delivery of home care can be noticeably improved with a tool-supported approach. The result is a much more coherent and predictable day-to-day life for both employees and not least citizens.

Municipal elderly care is a central part of the Danish welfare state, but it faces the challenge that on the one hand, efficiency must be increased and, on the other hand, it must improve quality and ensure more continuity for the citizen and a better working environment for employees. This creates a natural pressure on the planning function, which is becoming more and more complex and the daily need to match capacity and needs is difficult to achieve due to lack of access to the right data and poor planning processes.

If you really want to increase security for the elderly, you need to a full overview. Several municipalities have now realized this, and in working with them, we found that more structured planning increased the time that citizens have in real face-to-face interactions with a carer (ATA time) by 20 percent and reduced the use of temporary workers by up to 60 percent.

The tool we have developed has two parts: A "backend" where data is loaded and processed, and a "frontend" in the form of a dashboard where data is set out in visual form. The tool processes the municipalities' existing data on employees, citizens and services in a new way, with special emphasis on continuity of care for the citizen and efficiency in planning.

In collaboration with planners, managers and financial consultants in the municipality's home care service, we have developed a way to measure continuity of care. The goal is to establish the complexity of the citizen's care and care needs in relation to the number of different employees a citizen sees in a given period of time. This citizen complexity is calculated on the basis of a number of underlying data points – including time spent and the nature of the services – but is shown in an intuitive way where it is easy to identify the cases where action is required.

Overall, the tool makes it possible for planners and managers to distribute the work more evenly across home care employees and to take targeted action when individual citizens experience high turnover in nursing staff. Therefore, the tool not only supports increased ATA time and reduced use of temps, but also provides positive side effects in increased continuity of care, increased transparency in planning and operations, an even distribution of workload over the day and week and a mature organisation where there is greater management responsibility for the overall delivery of the care effort.

An overview provides better treatment

By creating as much continuity of care as possible for the individual citizen, it gives the employees a much better opportunity to monitor the elderly person's health and prevent diseases through timely care and treatment. The municipalities also find that transport time is minimised, the use of temporary workers is reduced and employees get a more predictable working day with an even distribution of the workload throughout the day and week.

With better planning, the municipalities can ensure their budget compliance, improve the accuracy of future budget assumptions and project their needs more accurately, ensure better premises for the planning work in general in the municipality and, last but not least, establish a solid, sustained basis for decision-making and the ability to put strategy into practice around the provision of care. In addition, there is an improved working environment and well-being for all employees who carry out the care as a result of a more predictable working day.

Municipalities should focus on two main actions:

1. The availability of data is essential to developing the knowledge and insight to create efficiency, continuity of care and, not least, manage the complexity that can exist around each citizen's care needs. By having the right tools and access to the detailed key figures, a foundation can be built for working purposefully and can be structured to optimise planning

2. A few, constant employees, are crucial to the quality of care for the elderly. In order to increase continuity of care, the municipalities must put a strong focus on the organisational framework for the interface between the citizen and the employee and establish a uniform planning approach across the municipality and ensure new methods are embedded through participatory processes with managers, planners and employees.

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