Arboga municipality in Sweden wanted support for sharing up to date and customised information within the municipality’s care home service. In the autumn of 2021, cognitive support was acquired in the shape of the digital time and planning tool MEMOplanner. The result was so good that the municipality is now providing four more care homes with the same welfare technology solution.
In the autumn of 2021, Arboga municipality acquired MEMOplanner, Abilia’s digital time and planning aid, for four of its care homes. The municipality needed a solution in which common operational information was customised, up to date, and easily accessible. It was also important that the information is lasting, unlike telling somebody which can easily be forgotten, or handing out paper documents that can disappear.
MEMOplanner is a cognitive aid that creates structure, overview, an understanding of time, and memory support. It provides predictability in everyday life, which reduces stress and usually increases motivation.
When Arboga municipality evaluated what it was like to have MEMOplanner as an operational support, the conclusion was that it has been very positive. Above all, the staff have seen that it leads to increased independence, participation, and security for the individual.
Based on this evaluation, the municipality decided that they would implement MEMOplanner to three more of their care homes. Today, MEMOplanner is used in the municipality’s six care homes, of which a completely new care home received the aid from the very beginning. MEMOplanner is also used in the municipality’s short-term accommodation for children and youths.
Susanne Lassila works together with five colleagues at one of the four care homes that first received MEMOplanner. In the care home, they have placed MEMOplanner in the living room. It is easily accessible to everyone, as this is a space in which both staff and residents move about. The information entered concerns staff, joint activities, shared meals, holidays, and birthdays. The images that are added play an important role in clarifying communication and opening up a dialogue.
Provides security, empowerment, independence, and participation
Susanne provides specialist cognitive support for the residents and has played a significant role in implementing welfare technology in the care home, improving for residents and staff. This is what she has to say about MEMOplanner and what role it has played for the residents.
"It soon became clear that MEMOplanner was the focal point where residents go to find out information. It provides information on which food will be served, which activities will take place during the day, and which staff members are on site. We have observed that residents experience increased independence, which comes from being more confident in knowing what is going to happen. And if they don't know what to do, they know where to find the information. MEMOplanner provides visibility and security, self-determination, independence, and participation."
Susanne goes on saying, "The type of questions we used to get have decreased. As a result, it provides the opportunity for more dialogue, instead of just questions and answers. In that way, MEMOplanner is more than just an assistive device, as it also serves as communication support."
Improved operation with cognitive assistive technology
Implementing welfare technology in the operation entails changes in working methods, and Susanne feels that this has gone well.
"I feel that it has been easy to bring MEMOplanner into our operation, and that all the colleagues have been involved. There have been no direct difficulties, and it has gone smoothly. We in the staff have made changes to our working practice, and it is also reassuring for us to know that there is always up-to-date information available", Susanne continues.
Prior to the implementation of MEMOplanner in the three new care homes in Arboga municipality, operations manager Cecilia Ring-Moberg took help from Susanne who provided support during the implementation. Susanne was also joining the meeting when Abilia's Emilie Gerde held an introductory training for staff and support teachers at the municipality's new care homes. She shared her experiences from introducing MEMOplanner at her workplace and provided some concrete tips for a successful implementation.
Tips for implementing MEMOplanner in daily operation
Here are some of Susanne’s tips for successful implementation:
- Set aside time, as it initially takes time to implement something new
- Involve all your staff during start-up
- Make sure that all your staff are familiar with the tool and are confident in how to use it
- Every staff member is responsible for, and has the task of ensuring, that the information is up-to-date – don't just designate one person to be responsible for this
- Set up a structure for how to work with MEMOplanner; for example, decide on one day a week for adding activities and food for the week ahead
- Have a plan for the way forward. It is important to do what you can and learn as you go. Think long term but take baby steps – it's better that a little bit works from the start than nothing at all is working
- Ask residents / participants to take part in updates, as this keeps them more involved
In addition to the tips above, Susanne also wants to add the following:
- Take photos often, so there are photos in the image bank to use – if not immediately then at a later stage
- Sometimes, something might happen that prevents you from updating MEMOplanner as planned. Remember to make sure that someone else in the staff group makes the changes that wasn’t done
As operations manager in Arboga municipality, Cecilia Ring-Moberg was the one deciding to implement MEMOplanner in the care homes. Cecilia had heard about MEMOplanner and realised that it could improve the care in the care homes. So the investment was made through the use of digitalisation means. Once an operation has working procedures in place using MEMOplanner, and the residents have become more independent, safe and involved, the staff have experienced a change in their pattern of needs. The questions that used to be recurrent, but now have the answers in MEMOplanner, are no longer being asked to the same extent. Instead, there is more of a dialogue between residents and staff.
Cecilia says, "When information remains available over time and provides answers to concerns that residents may have, it reduces any uncertainty that may otherwise arise. It can be difficult to convey ones question, or there can be uncertainty in the answer, which can lead to the resident asking another staff member the same question. This may then result in a reply that creates additional uncertainty. I feel it's a lot to ask from people who have difficulties sorting and retaining information."
Emilie from Abilia, who conducted the training for the staff, says "I am inspired by seeing how much the staff appreciate welfare technology in general, especially our time and planning aid. By how they are motivated to think in new ways and have created new work procedures in which MEMOplanner has become a key part of the operation. This makes it so much easier to achieve improvements in the operation, and for individuals in need of support."