Newswise — Newcastle University has assisted in finding cost-efficient methods for the NHS to improve the care and quality of life for care home residents.

The use of a smartphone application in care homes has helped reduce A&E attendances by 11% and emergency admissions by 25%, a study conducted by researchers at Newcastle University has found.

With over 400,000 people living in care homes across the UK, Newcastle University researchers examined the benefits of monitoring residents by recording daily activity via an NHS-owned smartphone application.

Through the Health Data Research (HDR) UK Better Care Programme, a collaboration between researchers at the universities of Newcastle, Durham, Lancaster, and Sheffield found substantial benefits of using the application Health Call.

Barbara HanrattyProfessor of Primary Care and Public Health at Newcastle University, said: “This is an important study from Newcastle University. Avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions from care homes is a priority, as it leads to better outcomes for patients and families.

“These findings suggest that the Health Call app reduces demands on hard-pressed NHS services.”

Newcastle University researchers discovered cost-saving benefits of using Health Call after examining 8,702 residents across 118 care homes in the North East between 2018 and 2021.

By linking routinely collected NHS data from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust with data gathered within the care homes, Newcastle University’s results show that using the Health Call app reduced the number of attendances to A&E by 11% and unplanned emergency admissions by 25%.

Newcastle University’s findings highlight the success Health Call has had in reducing hospital admissions, especially during the winter months.

In addition to these reductions, cost analysis found savings for the NHS of £57 per resident in 2018, rising to £113 in 2021.

Care home staff also reported that using the app boosted their confidence in being able to identify deterioration earlier and better manage illnesses before hospitalisation is needed.

Staff are trained to record the vital signs of the residents to allow calculation of the National Early Warning Score 2 (NEWS2) – used across the NHS to identify patients who may be at risk of deterioration.

Carers can also send a free text describing a resident’s condition using a Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR) approach, which is a structured form of communication used to enable information to be conveyed accurately.

The information, held securely by the NHS, provides a method for doctors and other clinicians to review the resident and offer care guidance while the resident is in their home.

Journal Link: Age and Ageing