Swallowcourt, Cornwall’s leading private care provider, is led by a team of passionate individuals who work together to provide quality lifestyles in beautiful environments.
As well as managing elderly care homes that provide residential, nursing and respite care for older people, Swallowcourt also operate three specialist care homes for individuals with learning and physical disabilities and associated conditions.
But although the multi-award-winning care providers had a highly experienced and certified team behind them, they were being held back by an IT infrastructure that failed to support their data protection, connectivity and adaptive technology needs.
Inundated with boxes of archiving and struggling with inadequate internet bandwidth, the Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst for change in a reform that was long overdue for Cornwall’s 12th largest employer. Working in one of the most challenging and pressurised of environments, Swallowcourt quickly realised they needed to invest in a comprehensive IT upgrade so they could continue to maintain the highest standard of care for which they are known for.
Leah Marsh, Managing Director for Swallowcourt, said, “It is ironic that in our Poldhu Nursing Home, which is situated just metres away from the very place that Guglielmo Marconi sent the first wireless transatlantic signal in 1901, that we have struggled with wireless connectivity.”
Swallowcourt were also aware of the increasing number of older people that were now embracing technological advancements, such as video and audio communication tools to keep in touch with family and friends. In addition, they wanted to provide Specialist Services, who support individuals with profound physical and learning disabilities, with class-leading IT that could pave the way for assistive technology.
Strict compliance and data protection obligations meant that Swallowcourt needed to have specific retention policies in place. How medical and personal information is being held has huge implications for the organisation, and so a complete security set-up was a top priority for them.
The implications on physical social interaction during the pandemic also created an urgent need to improve connectivity within the care homes. The cobbled-together system was slow, unreliable and lacked the infrastructure to support modern-day communication tools.
The solution and results
In response to the inadequate bandwidth and inability to fully utilise today’s technology during Covid-19, Swallowcourt partnered with Aztek to undertake a comprehensive upgrade of all IT connectivity within the homes.
Leah Marsh said, “Whilst we had planned to upgrade our systems over the coming years, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted to us the need for us to accelerate these plans.”
The IT infrastructure was a significant investment for the care providers, but they recognised the digital transformation would reduce the administrative burdens on their staff, enhance security and provide valuable connectivity to friends and relatives during a highly challenging time.
Aztek installed high-speed connectivity in each home, as well as the head office, with a gigabit leased line as primary and fibre in place as the failover. A new cloud-based phone system was also implemented, allowing residents to seamlessly connect with friends and relatives during the pandemic. An enterprise Wi-Fi solution was also installed in each home to support the rollout of digital care planning via mobile devices.
Adaptive technologies would be a lifeline for residents who are not able to communicate verbally. Getting online was now faster, more reliable and easier to access, allowing residents to access online resources and improving quality of care. Visitors could now use an online calendar to book visits to see relatives and friends, which proved to be revolutionary during the pandemic when structure and clear planning was critical.
With a comprehensive, secure IT infrastructure in place, personal information and other data could be held electronically. And rather than having to keep scanning and sending physical documents, improved communications meant health professionals could share records securely and at speed.
Whilst the main project took 26 weeks to complete, Aztek quickly became an extension of the team. They continue to support Swallowcourt’s drive to utilise the latest technological advancements to support the needs of their residents and staff.
Swallowcourt has exciting plans for future developments, propelled by a push for assistive technology within social care and advancements in artificial intelligence. With a ‘people before technology’ approach, the Swallowcourt-Aztek partnership is only set to strengthen further.
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