bringing elderly care closer to clients

For staff at Amstelring, the idea of “warm care” is central to the services they provide for elderly and disabled people. “‘Warm care’ is about making people feel at home,” explains Yoanette den Boer, Information and Automation Manager at Amstelring. “Really caring for people means being attentive to them, so we can best understand what they would like us to do. It means taking an interest in the people we care for, and making care more personal.”

Providing personal care is a logistical challenge for a company with 2,000 people in residential care at 35 locations, alongside clients using day care, home care, a hospice, and services for the physically disabled. To meet that challenge, Amstelring has 3,000 employees, up to 1,400 flexible workers and 1,300 registered volunteers spread across the Greater Amsterdam area.

Previously, the company used an on-premises email solution and a company intranet site to bring this dispersed organization together. Staff looking to access their email, check the medication needs of clients or write reports would often have to go to their office computer, away from the people they care for.

“Part of ‘warm care’ is showing what you are doing, not disappearing into an office to write reports,” says Yoanette.

Time spent with clients is our priority. Digital tools enable carers to access and send the data they need without leaving the client’s side. For that to work, you need to be in the cloud.
— Yoanette den Boer, Information and Automation Manager

“less a normal implementation – more like a party”

Companies implementing new productivity tools are often concerned by the additional training those changes create, especially among staff who are less comfortable with digital tools. “Our community includes many people who are really not very digital,” says Yoanette. Previous IT implementations had caused headaches for Yoanette and her team, requiring substantial aftercare, so to see which cloud solution would best fit a dispersed organization with up to 5,000 digital novices, Amstelring ran a series of pilots.

“We ran three pilots on one solution but people found it too difficult to understand,” says Yoanette. “Rather than get to grips with the new mobile tools, we discovered that people were going to their workstations and logging into their old email. We needed something more intuitive, that was really easy to understand.”

Amstelring ran a trial of G Suite, and after just two weeks, the company was confident to go ahead with a full deployment. “It was the enthusiasm that persuaded us,” says Yoanette. “Everyone was so happy to work with Gmail and the other G Suite tools.”

Amstelring connected with g-company, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, to assist with the rollout. “Together, we made the deployment all about change, not about technical issues,” says Yoanette. “We got people excited. Less like a normal implementation – more like a party
. We handed out t-shirts and appointed Google champions. We did all of that first, and left the conversion of old data and other more complicated tasks for later on. Following g-company’s advice, we implemented G Suite in phases through their excellent training sessions, beginning with Gmail and Calendar.”

Amstelring and g-company encouraged adoption by creating a group of 100 “Google Guides”, chosen from staff working in direct contact with elderly and disabled clients. “There is less of a hierarchy now,” says Yoanette. “We make groups in Hangouts and collaborate through that, instead of working in silos. On IT projects, for example, we used to work everything out in head office, then go on location to make our ideas fit the reality on the ground. Now Google Guides explain what they face on our Hangouts group and we collaborate with them on an ideal solution.”

Backed by enthusiastic support from Amstelring’s board of directors, the Google Guides, based at every company location, create an effective network through which Yoanette and her team are now deploying Drive and Chromebooks.

“I've worked in IT for many years and led many implementations. Normally we get complaints, but rolling out G Suite was a happy experience,” says Yoanette den Boer, Information and Automation Manager at Amstelring. “There was enthusiasm for something new and fresh. Everyone enjoyed it.”

closer care with Chromebooks and CloudReady

To work alongside the clients they care for, Amstelring staff can use a range of devices to connect to G Suite, but Yoanette and her team discovered that carers were not using the tablets they had been issued. “A lot of the carers had locked their tablets away because they were shared, not deployed one to each carer,” recalls Yoanette. After a long and thorough pilot, Amstelring have decided to deploy thousands of Chromebooks across the organisation, along with CloudReady devices arranged through g-company, giving old laptops a second life as Chromebooks.

“Certain medications require one carer to check the dosage and one to dispense it,” says Yoanette. “With two-camera Chromebooks, a carer at a remote location can check the label and see it passed to the patient, live.”

reports in one week, not three months

Now Amstelring is beginning to use BigQuery on Google Cloud Platform to optimize relationships with suppliers and analyze information on care quality, and the company’s information analysts and SQL experts are already using Data Studio and Datalab to generate reports at speed, as Yoanette explains:

“Many BI tools and data warehouses involve a lot of time spent working through consultants, but we can use Data Studio and BigQuery ourselves. With Data Studio, we can have perfect data in a few days. A year ago it took us three months to produce a quality report. This year we did it in a week.”

about Amstelring

Amstelring delivers care services for the elderly and disabled throughout the Greater Amsterdam region with 4,400 full and part-time employees.