At Birdie, we work with hundreds of domiciliary care agencies all over the UK. One of our partner agencies is Harino Care, based in Theale in Reading. At a recent UKHCA event focused around digital care management solutions, we invited Tracey Pearce, the Registered Manager to speak about her experience with Birdie.
"My experience of Birdie is that they are there for me. All the time. They make me feel individual. It almost feels like it’s only us that are using it, because they are there immediately"
Below, you’ll find everything she had to say, including the challenges, the victories and an honest account of her journey going paperless with Birdie.
Q. Tracey, first of all, tell us why you chose Birdie?
A. “I have to be totally honest - I wasn’t involved at all in the choosing of Birdie, that was solely my director. I came into the office one day and he said right, we’ve got Birdie coming in to give us a demonstration on how to go digital and their product, so please be available as I’d like you to be a part of it.”
“Initially, I had spoken to my director probably twelve months prior to that, to say that we needed to look at eMARs, definitely - and getting the MAR charts on digital. But he decided against that and ordered a load of paper MAR Charts. So that was a year ago - and now a year forward we’re looking at going digital with all our care planning and MAR Charts.”
Q. How’d the first meeting with Birdie go?
A. “So, Lola arrived, with a colleague and it just blew me away, to be honest. I sat there and I looked at the demonstration and Lola took us through, very enthusiastically, the product of Birdie.”
“I was blown away. It was everything that I dreamed of”
“I got very excited and I was a little bit too enthusiastic myself, I think. In fact, the directors told me off afterwards and said: “Tracey, they’re supposed to be selling the product to us and it looks like it’s already been sold”.
“But it was just absolutely brilliant. So transparent. The idea that families can see, and can log in and have a look at what the carers have done. We have continually had problems with handwriting because we use communication sheets, so that was going through my mind at the time that that would get rid of the communication sheets and the poor handwriting. Possibly even get rid of auditing those handwritten communication sheets that nobody can read…”
“Various other things came to mind - including removing a little bit of responsibility from those carers out in the field when it comes to medication. Every day, there are problems with medications where the MAR chart hasn’t been filled out, or it has been filled out incorrectly. Or a client will get new medication and sometimes it’s not added properly to the MAR charts. Or it’s been written on and nobody can read the writing or nobody can read the dose. It’s just a minefield. So after the demonstration, we went away and Lola was brilliant, I have to say. I certainly think we made a bond right from the start.”
Q. What happened next?
A. “So after we signed the contract and agreed to take Birdie on, Ravi appeared at our door, bless his heart, and took us all through it in depth. We arranged some training for the carers and he came out two days in a row to train the carers on how to use the app. He has the patience of a saint. He was absolutely brilliant with them.”
“We have 50 carers and 136 clients so it was a bit of a challenge - or it still is, a challenge, to be honest, as we have used the whole experience of getting Birdie on board to sort of update all of our paperwork, like our GDPR paperwork, our consents. We’ve done care plan reviews. So we’ve used this as a perfect opportunity to update everything. Which is brilliant because also at the same time that we started to launch Birdie, we got our CQC rating through - which was Good. And in that, they mentioned that we are going digital. So that was huge.”
“And the CQC inspector that we had was very appreciative of everything that I said about Birdie and going live with them. And he was very impressed I have to say.”
“And hopefully, the next one, which is in another two years, we’re aiming for the Outstanding. And I think with the help of Birdie I really, so far, believe that we can do it.”
Q. Have you had any major challenges with Birdie?
A. “There have been challenges. In that, it has taken a lot longer than I anticipated to get all of our client’s details onto the Birdie system. We do our rota planning through CarePlanner, so obviously, CarePlanner and Birdie must run alongside each other. We had some issues regarding logins, which I think we have resolved, and every time we have an issue, the guys at Birdie, the support team are just fabulous, honestly.”
“I couldn’t wish for a better team to help us and support us through this. They’re all passionate about Birdie themselves, as am I, but they’re just brilliant. I cannot fault them at all.”
“The slightest little thing, some days poor old Christabelle has me on the live chat down on the right-hand corner of my screen, every 20 minutes or so. It’s like ‘Christabelle, I’ve got a problem, how can I do this, how can I do that?” And she’s just not fazed by it. She is brilliant. As are the others. I can mention Ravi, James, Trevor - those are the guys that I speak to regularly on the live chat. They are there. And they look into things immediately. Certainly, within minutes of me asking the question.”
Q. What’s been the most difficult part of getting set up?
A. “Inputting all of our client’s data into Birdie has been a challenge. To be honest, I underestimated how long it would take us. I said that we would have it done in a week, no problem at all, but no. The reality is that I think we are still inputting. We’ve got about another six or seven clients to put in that are very complex, so we’ve had to go and do more risk assessments, more care planning around these clients, to make it specific and person-centred for them. And this is what Birdie does.”
“But, the inputting takes a long time because it's tasks, and then it’s the free text underneath where you can put in the person-centred things. For example one of the tasks would be a normal assist wash in the mornings, but we would make that person-centred, by saying ‘the bowl is in the kitchen, please use the yellow flannel for the top. Mrs Smith prefers to use X bubble bath’ So we can make it actually really really person-centred and the carers can see exactly what they need to do. Even if they haven’t visited the client before, they can see exactly what the client’s preferences are. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about the client. And helping them to be as independent as they can, and make their own decisions. And we have those conversations with the client now, by selling Birdie to them - asking them exactly ‘how do you want this done?’ and we can put this into the system so that everybody does exactly the same thing when they visit the clients. Which is huge. It’s huge for the client. And actually, if we take it on the CQC front, it’s huge for us as a company because everything is written there, everything is transparent and the carers need to read it and do exactly what is there.”
Q. How do your carers find using Birdie?
A. “The feedback I’ve had from our carers out in the field is that is gives them more time, more face to face time with their client. Which is brilliant. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about the client. They are able to sit and have a chat for two or three minutes, rather than sitting there with a book and writing, in dreadful handwriting, all the things they’ve done for that client.”
“Now, they are focused on that client at that time, rather than spending 10 minutes writing notes in the communication sheets which is absolutely brilliant.”
Q. How has Birdie’s eMAR helped?
A. “The medication is solely managed by me, at the moment, in the office, because I’m trying to get it right. So, we have to outcome everything. We have to outcome prompting, we have to outcome assisting and we have to outcome the administration. But it’s all there. The carers, if there is any new medication, they have to send me an email to tell me and I can immediately put it on. And then it’s right there, right at that time so that the carer can sort it out while they’re in the field.”
Q. How have clients and families found using Birdie?
A. “I do have to say that I was particularly surprised by the feedback I got from clients and their families about going digital. They were all on board, apart from two. So out of a hundred and thirty-six clients, there are two that I am coming up with solutions about how it can work for them.”
Q. What’s your advice to anyone considering using Birdie in their agency?
A. “I haven’t got a bad thing to say about it, really and truthfully.”
“It’s a challenge getting it all done and I did underestimate, so that’s my issue, I didn’t manage that very well at all, but it’s all new, and these things that are new do take longer than anticipated.”
"My experience of Birdie is that they are there for me. All the time. They make me feel individual."
“And that’s really all I can say. You know what, just go for it. I honestly believe that this is the way to go and although I only have experience with Birdie, the team are amazing. Absolutely amazing. I’m not here to sell Birdie to you, but my experience of Birdie is that they are there for me. All the time. They make me feel individual. It almost feels like it’s only us that are using it, because they are there immediately. They iron out any problem, they give really good advice on how to do things. And they are open to suggestions which is brilliant.”
If you’re thinking about going digital in your agency like Tracey at Harino Care, get in touch with us to arrange a free demo of Birdie.