An app to fight coronavirus in nursing homes

By: June 5, 2020

There are over 25,000 elderly people in nursing homes across Ireland. It is suggested that nursing home residents who have died due to Covid-19 in Ireland make up more than half of all deaths attributed to the disease here.

Zendra Health, a digital therapeutics platform with offices in Dublin and Fermanagh, has developed an app for staff in nursing homes to help fight the spread of the virus.

The app aims to help staff self-screen for coronavirus, keep them up to speed with the latest practises, look after their wellbeing, provide them with reliable access to support while maintaining their privacy.

Here, CEO and co-founder Thomas Coleman (pictured left with his brother David) discusses how the app works.

“The idea for the app came from a conversation with my sister Orla, who is director of nursing at St Luke’s Nursing Home Cork. She was struggling to find a way to help her staff manage and triage COVID-19 among patients while maintaining their wellbeing. My brother and I believed that our platform could help and set to work on the ‘Staff companion app’.”

So, how does it work? If I was a care worker, how would I use the app?
You would simply download the app and access the information and the tools. You can learn more and feel better supported by receiving personalised, curated and consolidated training materials into the palm of your hand.

You can look after your wellbeing – through resources that help combat stress, anxiety and worry.
You will feel more engaged with your workplace through push notifications so you can be quickly notified of any communication updates, care response protocols and wellbeing supports.

You will be able to reduce the risk of further outbreaks through self-screen smart assessments with nudge-based notifications which provide instant feedback; all of which are configurable to adhere to care home response protocols.

Additionally, you will be able to quickly triage any potential outbreaks effectively through support contacts at the touch of a button.

Finally, you can optimise your person-centred care and offer a holistic care offering to residents, families and relatives through the app’s range of features such as TeleHealth.

How difficult is it to get people to adopt new tech like this, especially in a sector like care homes?
Although there are great communication initiatives and resources available to care homes, the information is fragmented. Management spends too much of their time curating resources for their staff and there’s an abundance of communication channels used which can be overbearing for staff.

For us, the COVID-19 pandemic drove many care homes to look for better ways to streamline communication, education and care of staff. As a result, our app is already in several care homes in just a matter of weeks.

Is the use of the app managed by individual care workers or can there be one point of management?
Our platform supports two access types to the app:
Anonymous access – No login required for care works on the app. All information collected by the app is completely anonymous. No personal information collected.
Non-anonymous access – Care worker login is required on the app. Administrators can track self-screen assessments and the app engagement from the dashboard. Management invites the care worker to the app through the admin dashboard which automatically assigns them with a unique ID to use when registering on the app.
For both access types:
The app is available to download on a private repository.
Care workers can be assigned specific groups to receive app content that’s personalised to their group needs (e.g. care home location, profession).

95% of the app content can be updated anytime, anywhere through the admin dashboard. Management with the necessary account privileges has access to the admin dashboard.

How effective can tech like this be in the fight against a virus in care homes and across Ireland?
There’s a multifaceted preventative approach and mitigating approach against the virus in terms of education, wellbeing, support, self-screening, PPE, contact tracing and social distancing.

Tech like ours is incredibly effective at targeting several aspects of the preventative cycle of COVID-19 such as education, wellbeing, support, self-screening and really compliments the other pillars of preventative measures such as contact tracing.

Could workers in other sectors (schools, colleges etc.) benefit from this kind of technology?
Yes. Our technology could easily benefit other sectors but our prime focus is using our technology to support Care Homes.

What about the privacy issues around this tech?
We treat data privacy and protection with the utter respect it deserves. Zendra Health is one of the select few companies world-wide that is compliant with medical-grade regulatory standards ISO 13485:2016 so we know how to build medical-grade software. Care home apps built using our platform does not use any location tracking.

Zendra Health’s data store is GDPR and HIPAA compliant and uses best-in-class security measures for storing personal health information. All server communication is encrypted over TLS and data is encrypted on REST.

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