Managing the Transition to Digital Telecare: How to engage your customers guide image

Appello, a technology-enabled care (TEC) specialist, has launched a new guide for housing providers about how they can engage clients with digital telecare services as they are rolled out, and how to overcome engagement barriers.

It is the second in a series of guides from Appello on transitioning to digital telecare. The first guide – ‘Managing the Transition to Digital Telecare: A Guide to Engaging Your Staff with the Technology’ – explored the importance of engaging staff with telecare.

The second and latest Appello guide – ‘Managing the Transition to Digital Telecare: How to engage your customers’ – discusses the need for engaging clients with digital TEC solutions.

Appello’s free guide provides helpful information to housing providers about how why they should start engaging clients with digital TEC services, the benefits for clients in digital telecare services, and planning a client engagement programme.

Below, AT Today has outlined some of the key points from the guide.

The importance of engaging clients

It is crucial to engage clients with plans to roll out digital telecare services from the beginning, as it means providers can get the right systems in place in line with user requirements. Appello says that adopting an early collaborative approach will help clients embrace new technologies more easily and overcome any barriers to adopting new systems.

The guide further highlights that engaging staff from the start will ensure a smooth transition when digital telecare services are rolled out. They will be able to manage any issues that arise more easily.

When to engage clients

Apello says: “Your customers will ultimately determine the success of your services, so you need to prioritise customer engagement from the outset.”

Providers should engage their clients throughout the different stages of a digital telecare project, which are outlined below.

During the planning phase

The guide stresses that involving clients during the planning phase is crucial to ensure telecare services are designed to meet user needs and that providers invest in the right areas. Housing providers need to talk to residents to learn about their needs; understand their views on current services to get an idea about what does and does not work; and uncover opportunities to build on current offerings.

Engaging clients early on also presents a key opportunity for providers to get relevant feedback about planned digital TEC services. This idea of co-production ensures services genuinely meet the needs of those using them.

Before the installation phase

Housing providers may be required to provide a legal notice (Section 20 – S20- notice) of works to install digital telecare at their properties. Covering certain proposed works and services, this notice needs to let clients know what work is planned and why, giving them the chance to comment on this.

Appello warns providers that this notice should not be the first time residents have heard about the rollout of digital telecare services. However, if providers have engaged residents beforehand by explaining the plans, these practicalities will be more straightforward, the guide reassures.

As the installation phase draws closer, providers should make it easy for clients to ask questions, be transparent about the process, and offer training.

Post-service launch

Once digital TEC services have been implemented, clients will need specific support. This includes making sure staff are fully briefed on the new equipment so that they can assist residents; offering hands-on training so people feel confident with new assistive technologies; and providing straightforward FAQs and other additional information.

Overcoming barriers to engagement

Appello offers a variety of solutions to some potential barriers to engagement, particularly common ones like a lack of confidence with new technologies. The guide offers support for three common engagement barriers below.

Lack of confidence with digital technology

To help tackle a lack of confidence with new digital solutions, especially for residents who are unfamiliar with how the internet works or who have had little exposure to digital technologies, the guide says that providers should give clear information, reassurance and support along with hands-on training to increase familiarity with the technology.

Resistance to digital technology

Older adults may be resistant to using new technologies. The document points towards research from Lancaster University that found that this group of people may have concerns about how such technology is affecting society in general, a perception that technology makes some tasks more time consuming, a fear of getting things wrong, and anxiety that technology may replace face-to-face interactions.

Housing providers can address these worries in their communications, according to the guide. For example, providers should explain to residents why the digital switch is happening – i.e., analogue telecare services will be switched off by 2025.

They can also explain that the technology is not designed to replace face-to-face contact and show users how the technology will be used instead. Housing providers should give clients details about how digital solutions can support independent living.

Lack of awareness of digital technology

For residents who may not fully understand why digital telecare solutions are being introduced or the need for changing current services, housing providers can actively avoid these negative feelings. They can do this by involving users from the beginning and getting their input, providing information in a range of different formats to boost accessibility, and offering regular updates to keep the process transparent.

Benefits of digital TEC services for clients

Appello succinctly explains the range of benefits that digital TEC services can deliver to clients.

One of the key benefits, outlined in the guide, is that digital telecare services are more reliable traditional services. Appello says that analogue services can sometimes have a failure rate of one in 10 calls. Digital services also offer much faster connection speeds.

Furthermore, video entry systems give residents the reassurance of seeing who is at the door before letting them in, while 24/7 service monitoring means any faults can be picked up and fixed with quickly. Staff are able to keep track of maintenance issues, such as battery levels, and deal with these proactively.

Another benefit of digital telecare services is the option of video calling and Wi-Fi. Residents can keep in touch with loved ones more easily and access advice and guidance quickly online.

Planning a client engagement programme

To bring together all of the benefits of digital telecare services, housing providers should plan a client engagement programme, the guide underlines. The overall objective of this programme is to ensure a smooth transition to digital services for clients.

Client engagement programmes should make use of a range of communication channels to effectively reach as many residents as possible, while keeping in mind accessibility options.

Coffee mornings can provide face-to-face interaction and the chance for clients to ask questions openly. They are an opportunity to provide hands-on equipment demonstrations, so users can see how the technology actually works. This could also be done in the format of a co-discovery workshop, which offers a fun and engaging way for residents to get on board with new equipment while providers can understand more about their service requirements.

Written resources are also useful to raise awareness and provide information that can be referred back to. These could include FAQs, easy-read ‘how to’ guides, posters, and infographics.

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