Care home innovation hub launches to help improve lives

Christine Asbury, WCS Care CEO, cuts the cake with Ed Russell, WCS Care’s Director of Innovation and Delivery, along with partner organisations and invited guests

Sharing approaches, technology and best practice that can help transform care and improve lives is the aim of a new care home innovation hub, launched by WCS Care.

The Innovation Hub, created at the Warwickshire-based charity's newest and most technologically advanced home, Castle Brook in Kenilworth, is a unique space full of working mock-ups of the latest technology and concepts that WCS Care already uses or is set to use in future developments, provided by a number of partners of products and services.

It features a recreated bedroom with a night-time acoustic monitoring system that automatically alerts staff to unusual sounds so they can respond quickly when needed. A visual prompt is also being trialled as part of the system to give carers more information on which to base their care decisions.

Electronic care planning, that means carers spend more time with residents instead of extensive paper recording, and an advanced nurse call system that alerts staff through handheld devices rather than by disruptive call bells, are some of the other technologies that feature.

WCS Care has also installed circadian rhythm lighting into the hub that mimics daylight in the day and creates biological darkness at night, keeping the body in a solid circadian cycle, helping to improve sleep and daytime alertness, which has positive impacts on people with dementia.

Ed Russell, WCS Care's Director of Innovation and Delivery, said: 'We've already incorporated many of the concepts and technologies that are in the hub into a number of our homes and have seen the positive impact they've had on the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia.

'We're excited about how some of the new features we're trying - like the circadian rhythm lighting which will be installed into our next new home in Warwick - will benefit future residents.

'We're always asking ourselves 'what will make people's lives better' and it's this that drives us to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation in care to ensure that every day is well lived.'

But the Innovation Hub is not just about new technology - it's also promoting creativity in care and investigating new approaches to existing ways of doing things, that can improve people's experience of living in a care home, ensure safe, effective, and responsive care, and save providers time and money. 

WCS Care and Coventry University are working together on a number of PhD studies which will investigate the impact of a range of factors on the health and wellbeing of residents.

This first-of-a-kind research could help the charity, and other care providers, develop their approaches to care ensuring people enjoy life to its fullest.

Studies will cover a range of topics including sleep, nutrition, the benefits of time outside, self-management and responsive care, and the use of robotics and digital technologies. 

Christine Asbury, WCS Care's Chief Executive, said: 'As the only care home provider in England to have five outstanding ratings from the CQC, people are looking to us to see what we're doing and how we've achieved what we have.

'The Innovation Hub lets us share our experience. While this may not suit everyone, it does leave people feeling inspired about how they could do things differently - and of course we're learning from our visitors too.

'We've set a positive challenge to the sector about ambition in care services, and using creativity and technology to deliver results. We're passionate in our belief that everyone gets access to high quality care, regardless of who provides it or how it's paid for.

WCS Care's Innovation Hub has already welcomed over 100 visitors to date, including representatives from other care home providers, MPs, CQC, national NHS teams, and hospital trusts.

Visitors also receive a tour of the Castle Brook home, which includes household-style living with fully-functioning domestic-style kitchens, ensuite rooms and double apartments, as well as a traditional launderette, deluxe cinema, café, shop and pamper salon.

Organisations can find out more about the Innovation Hub visit and Castle Brook tour, and book a place, by calling WCS Care on 01926 864 242.