Paper is durable. It is relatively easy to store. It is easy to retrieve. We get it - paper has been with us for centuries. It is a great medium for recording information. And even though many industries have radically reduced their reliance on paper over the last decade, and that there is a strong pull towards paperless solutions in the Health and Social Care sector, we understand that paper will be with us for a long time to come.
Why move past paper?
If paper is so enduring, why move past paper? We believe the answer is a combination of attractive features
- we call these 'pull' factors, and compelling features
- what we call 'push' factors. Taken together, we recognise that moving past paper provides a positive step forward for the sector. So what are these features?
The sector operates within society at large, and society is - on the whole - reducing its reliance on paper. Take the rapidly expanding market in ebooks as an example, or - less controversially - the rise of internet banking. Take the declining market in printed holiday snaps as another example and the corresponding rise in digital storage devices, including tablet computers, external hard drives and personal cloud storage solutions.
These factors provide a background push for the sector to keep up, but on their own they are not reason enough to move past paper. There are other, more compelling 'push' factors including guidance on security and data protection that affects everyone across all sectors. And there is specific legislation which provides unequivocal statements on new ways of working:
In a shared statement regarding the Care Certificate and training providers issued by Skills for Health, Skills for Care and Health Education England, these organisations make it clear that: "It is not possible to achieve the Care Certificate through completion of e-learning or completing a workbook alone."
The recommendations for CQC providers, from Skills for Care, 'Inducting care workers' say: "The assessment of a new care worker's induction programme cannot be undertaken by and external learning provider, via e-learning or through simply reviewing a completed workbook."
We see both of these statements as strong evidence that the established practice of reviewing some content and then testing understanding is simply not enough. It does not provide high quality evidence of competence and of safety to practice. These quality indicators can only be evidenced through observation of a care worker's practice - which is why our solutions are not designed to deliver content only, but to provide a method to measure the impact and effectiveness of that content in the only place it matters - in staff practice.
Where push factors provide a 'stick', pull factors provide the 'carrot'. We recognise that there are many and varied reasons to move past paper, not least because of the ubiquity and penetration of internet connected electronic devices; the huge security benefits of securely storing evidence electronically in ISO/IEC27001 accredited data centres; the ability to share information and evidence securely between manager and care worker across physical space and separate times; the time savings made through holistic observations
) that is: observing practice once and applying it to multiple, relevant Care Certificate outcomes or in building an automated evidence portfolio of the competence and safety to practice of your entire staff when it comes to inspection; the benefits of robust and rapid storage and retrieval of disparate evidence and supervision data; and the ability to provide real, rich evidence of continuous competence and knowledge through observed practice and not simply by testing staff recall in the minutes after they have engaged with learning material.
Paper has its place
We understand that paper has its place - who doesn't enjoy leafing through a book or magazine more than its electronic counterpart. We are not predicting the end of paper, nor would we want to. We recognise the strengths and the weaknesses of paper, and where there are weaknesses we provide better, more robust solutions which increase the positive impact on learning and on outcomes for patients and recipients of care, since these are the people to whom we are all ultimately responsible.