A new digital solution that connects care homes to NHS services has been introduced across Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside and South Tees.

Care homes are usually not connected to NHS IT systems so care home staff need to rely on telephone calls to local NHS services when they have concerns about a resident, but 296 care homes around the North East and North Cumbria region have now started to implement a solution from Health Call.

This involves providing each care home with a toolkit so care home staff can carry out observations using an NHS-approved method called Situation, Background, Assessment and Recommendation (SBAR). The SBAR digital referral and remote monitoring tool is used to provide contextual referral information, including the observations which are used to calculate the NEWS2 score.

The care home staff take several readings using the equipment in the toolkit which are then sent electronically to local NHS services and integrates with the patient’s existing medical record.

Health Call has worked with the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC) to roll out its solution across County Durham.

Dr Nicola Hutchinson, chief executive at the AHSN NENC said: “Our role as an AHSN is to support, develop and evaluate new innovations and where appropriate, adopt these products into the North East and North Cumbria region, as well as further afield. The Digital Care Homes tool has already brought significant benefits to care home staff, clinicians and, more importantly, to care home residents.

“Health Call is a unique, regional organisation, which is wholly owned by the NHS, and I’m delighted to see this innovative tool being made available to more care homes across the region.”

The work has been funded by NHSX as part of the Innovation Collaborative which aims to “level up” more of the regional care homes.

Health Call is a collaboration of seven NHS trusts who provide digital health solutions across the region, and beyond.

Ian Dove, director at Health Call added: “Staff in the care homes and NHS teams have also been really positive about the impact the technology has had. We are really looking forward to expanding Digital Care Homes to other parts of our region over the coming weeks so more patients and staff can benefit.”