The importance of technology in healthcare is unquestionable. Yet so often it can be difficult for healthcare providers to introduce new technologies because of numerous barriers.
The Huntercombe Group strives to continually seek innovative solutions to improve care and are currently piloting a new software called Brain in Hand at Cedar House in Canterbury. Brain in Hand (www.braininhand.co.uk) is being used to help patients better self-manage in order to reduce anxiety and crisis incidents, especially when in the local community.
Brain in Hand gives patients easy access to their own personalised diary, reminders, and coping strategies through an app on their phone. An inbuilt anxiety monitor also allows users to report their emotional state on a regular basis using a simple traffic light system. This enables support staff to be able to see how patients are feeling, wherever they are, and intervene if needed.
If coping strategies aren’t working and a patient needs help, they can press the red traffic light button at any time and a text message is sent to the senior nurse on site. The senior nurse then then contacts a trained traffic light responder, who will get in touch with the patient to help to deescalate the problem. The system also provides a wealth of usage data, including anxiety tracking and problems faced, to help with reflection and planning.
Amie Drayner, Brain in Hand Lead at Cedar House explains: “Eighty staff have been trained on how to use Brain in Hand and ten patients now have been set up with the software; including patients with Learning Disabilities, Autism or Mental Health conditions. Each patient has weekly sessions with their supporter; together they look at the patient’s Brain in Hand usage tracker. This shows exactly when they have been feeling anxious and what coping strategies they have used. This informs discussion, helping to spot any new areas of concern or develop new coping strategies. They also take this time to add any upcoming events or reminders to their diary, such as a day trip.
“It’s only been a few weeks, but already the team are seeing results. Some patients are now getting up earlier in order to complete their morning routine, getting up at 11am compared to as late as 3pm sometimes. Others who do not communicate with staff when not feeling good are pressing red, enabling staff to provide help before their situation worsens.”
Chris Davis, Senior Support worker, adds: “It gives patients the chance to express themselves, even if there are unfamiliar staff, or the ward is unsettled. They’re not going to want to come and find help if the ward is unsettled, but now they can use their device for that.”
The software is designed to help people with a range of conditions including; mild or moderate mental illness, autism or recovering from brain injuries. It is based on well-established therapeutic principles such as CBT, solution focused therapy and recovery-based rehabilitation; the learning from these approaches are turned into a set of patient-centred coping strategies.
Feedback from patients has been extremely positive. When asked about Brain in Hand, patients have shared that: “It helps with communication’’ and “I like Brain in Hand because it helps me to stay calm.”
Going forward, it is planned that the software will contribute towards safer discharge planning.