The devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was felt greatest within the nursing home community, accounting for half of all deaths related to COVID-19 and over 80% of these deaths in Canada. Importantly, this revealed a fatal flaw in the workings of the nursing home, an inability to contain an infection and protect the health of the most vulnerable population. Unsurprisingly, the conditions and treatment of nursing home residents have been unsatisfactory, and residents have reported neglect or witnessed acts of neglect. Medication errors have been experienced in as many as 70% of nursing home residents in the UK. To date, there has yet to be consensus on how to best improve the care offered to this population of seniors.
Increasingly, the elderly population are relying on polypharmacy and multi-disciplinary care to treat their chronic illnesses. In one study, residents were found to be taking an average of 8 medications and experienced an average of 1.9 medication errors. Heart disease – a frequent morbidity in the elderly – alone may necessitate a combination of three key drugs: Aspirin, ACE-inhibitor, and beta-blocker. Additionally, the use of multidisciplinary care increases the likelihood for error or unnecessary medication, whereby unnecessary prescriptions may occur. The clinical consequences of these errors may include adverse drug events, non-adherence, or negative drug-interactions. With time, these errors incur greater healthcare costs and consumption of material and human resources. Staff can become overwhelmed with the medical demands of their patients and subsequently commit preventable errors.
However, the problem in nursing homes is at the systems level rather than the individual level. Medical errors can be reduced by finding solutions upstream and implementing efficient systems that are easily comprehensible, have built in redundancy for safety, and most importantly, serves the needs of the user. In this project, we have sought to create an app that streamlines the medication delivery schedule for nursing home staff to reduce error and improve patient outcomes.
What it does
Wecare is a mobile app that specifically designed for nursing home staffs. In the app, the staff can create a personal profile for the resident who he's responsible for taking care of and record the medical histories of this resident. For each resident, the staffs will also record his prescription drugs details(medication name, medicine ATC, route, dosage, time to take, frequency) and an event will be created accordingly on his calendar; The staff will get a notification if it's time to give medication. This feature helps the staff to better organize each person's medication schedule and avoid possible medication error.
Accomplishments that we're proud of & What we learned
We always know that most of the nursing homes don't have a good living environment. But only during this hackathon, we have actually came up with a solid and promising idea that we know will be helpful. We will extend this project to our graduation design project and eventually we hope we will be able to introduce the final product to the local nursing homes.
What's next for Wecare
- We are aware that an elder might receive multiple prescriptions from different specialists but some medicines are not supposed to be taken together. So we aim to detect medications that might badly interact with each other if they appear in one person's medication schedule.
- We wish to add another section where will be used to record the elder's special living habits such as A always wants to have dinner at 4:30pm and B always needs to go to washroom at 2am. By having all these informations, the nursing home's staffs will be able to provide a higher quality of living environment for the senior people.