How assistive technology can help lessen the impact of the latest court ruling on sleep-in-shifts

A leading UK charity has lost its appeal against a ruling that it should pay support staff the minimum wage for a sleep-in-shift.

Currently, Mencap pays just £29.05 for a nine-hour sleep shift, and with 5,000 staff who sleep at the homes of people they support, the charity has stated that it could face a financial crisis if they are forced to pay the minimum wage.

The charity’s response to the ruling was that it was “not against paying its care workers “properly”, and was seeking to raise their rates in the longer term, but that it was not paid enough by the councils and NHS bodies that commission it to support disabled people.”

The judgment against Mencap is the latest twist in a wider battle over payment of sleep-in workers in the care sector. Standard practice has been to pay a flat sum for a shift, plus the minimum hourly rate for the time when the worker is roused to help the person they support.

 So what options are left?

To meet the cost financially of paying the minimum wage, care providers have estimated that they need an extra £800m over three years, which would soak up 40% of the emergency £2bn funding for social care.

There is also talk that employers may have to pay backpay for up to six years and this is causing considerable alarm among the 65,000 disabled people who pay their support workers, using personal budgets allocated by councils.

Technology, of course, can have a huge role to play in reducing the need for sleep-in support staff. It can proactively manage the care and identify risks through a central monitoring centre which can potentially be responsible for ten homes within a two-mile radius, reducing the need for ten support staff down to just two or three. If there is a problem, a member of the team can easily go to the individual’s home and look after them.

How technology can reduce waking nights’ costs

One of the pieces of technology that we offer is the award-winning GrandCare Systems. Its extensive features – sensors, communication tools, scheduling, care reporting and healthcare devices – deliver a holistic view of the day-to-day well-being and activities of the individual. The same features can also be used during the night to monitor individuals and alert a central monitoring unit if they are waking or have got out of bed and haven’t returned during a set time.

Sensors on the front door are also capable of alerting care staff if the door is opened during the hours of 10 pm and 8 am, and along with geo-tracking technology in shoes or as a wristband it can quickly identify where they are.

New technology such as Vitalerter will also complement GrandCare through its ability to continuously monitor vital signs. Heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate are all monitored, and with inbuilt algorithms, it can detect if there are abnormities before alerting the necessary care staff to take appropriate action.

Other technology can also make a huge difference such as U-drain. Completely reducing the need for night staff to be on hand to change leg bags, individuals are instead connected to the U-drain system that takes urine straight from a urine night bag to the foul waste pipe. This easy to install device completely removes the need for a carer to change the bag up to four times a night.

If you’d like to know more about our technology and how it can reduce waking nights, please feel free to contact us – m.warnes@adaptivetechnology.eu