Careline Support Ltd was established in 2020 by the UK’s top retirement housing management provider, Millstream Management Services. They provide monitoring services to over 6,000 retirement properties across the UK. The in-house Careline offering was introduced to ensure a co-ordinated service with Lodge/House Managers and provide a more personal service to Owners.
In 2020, as Careline Support Ltd looked to introduce their services to customers, they commissioned Appello CareNet as their monitoring centre platform for the handling of customer emergency and wellbeing calls.
In this short interview with James Knight, Monitoring Services Manager at Careline Support, we look at their decision-making process, the implementation process and experiences over 6 months of delivering services to customers through CareNet.
Did you review the market when looking for monitoring centre platforms and what was your experience?
As a team we looked at many suppliers of monitoring centre platforms. At first it was difficult to distinguish the differences and the realities, so we decided to take a step back. We identified our core requirements and took the approach to write a very clear specification which focussed on our needs now, and in the coming years.
We asked for responses from the platform providers we were interested in and this presented a very clear way of fairly comparing the options to make an informed decision.
How important was digital to your decision?
The digital move within the industry was very significant in this process. We needed to ensure that we could monitor the digital protocols that are increasingly used. Some of the properties we monitor have already moved to digital, so we have been monitoring digital equipment from day one of moving to CareNet. There is also a digitalisation project which aims to have all properties we monitor using digital equipment by 2023.
We found the clarity around digital very helpful and the proven experience of CareNet monitoring digital calls was a reassuring factor in our decision.
Why did you select CareNet?
Beyond the confidence we had in the digital capabilities, we were very impressed with how there are so many ways to do things in CareNet. You can access records from multiple routes and make large updates easily, this makes the platform efficient to use but also intuitive. In a time critical role, these features highlight how CareNet is a platform specifically created for this environment.
CareNet is also a simple platform to use, which has been proven through our newly recruited operators. Many had no previous experience in a similar environment, however the usability of the platform, along with the right training, has been important in how these operators have been able to quickly grow into their role.
New operators have benefitted from the live ‘break in’ feature during their induction process. This allows another more experienced operator to transfer or take over a call when someone with more experience or specialist skills may be required. We have also found ‘remote observation’ to be very beneficial in training, allowing Senior Operators or Managers to listen in on calls to identify areas of improvement and provide guidance where appropriate. Training is a critical element in a monitoring environment, and these features really complement the work we undertake and the development of the team.
How was the implementation process?
Appello created a very personal approach from the beginning, which continued all the way through the implementation process and is still the case today. We went live with CareNet approximately 6 months ago and still have regular meetings with the senior management, training, and IT teams at Appello. They are always available on the phone if we need them and happy to offer advice and support.
This level of communication made a huge difference during the implementation and has been one of the most pleasing things about what feels like a partnership, rather than us just purchasing a platform.
Have you seen any benefits in CareNet being cloud hosted and part of the Appello Cloud suite?
We are still running most shifts on site however, we have trialled some operators working from home for short periods. This wasn’t even imaginable 18 months ago and through the later stages of the pandemic, it has been re-assuring knowing that if we had shielding or isolating requirements within the team – the system would support a remote approach. The features in CareNet ensure operators working from home are still visible and supported, and we also use Microsoft Teams to ensure there are open communication channels between everyone.
We have also found AppelloSBR really useful. It is being used by managers in some of the properties we monitor to update customer details into CareNet, and some of the operators even use this to update records as an alternative to the front end of the system. It’s great to have two platforms working in tandem.
How has CareNet supported you in your role of managing the monitoring centre?
Beyond the functional features, the reporting in CareNet is fantastic. It gives me exactly what I need and when delivering updates to senior management, the feedback has always complimented the thoroughness and usefulness of the data.
All the key information we need is really easy to access, from call volumes and times, to insights into service peaks, types of calls and frequent users. This is really important for me as this data has the ability to influence and enhance our service, and ultimately how it is delivered.