Digital Red Cross
Digitalisation is happening everywhere and changing the way we work in every industry and service. The opportunities provided by new technologies in the field of health and social care are undeniable - workflow and communication can now become faster and more efficient. Methods of scheduling, timekeeping, and documentation can be improved so that more people receive appropriate care.
The Red Cross is actively making efforts to adapt its work to this changing context. But which is the best way to go digital within the organisation. How can we adapt innovative practices to the needs of the people we aim to help?
The German Red Cross project, #diRK (digital Red Cross) focuses on care professionals and practitioners in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. It aims to improve the digital literacy of Red Cross staff and volunteers, and to support the introduction and development of digitalised work processes and structures within care facilities. The project also develops and tests innovative social media strategies that can help attract young, skilled people to the workforce.
Funded in part by the European Social Fund, #diRK provides training workshops and practical learning opportunities for care practitioners to help them adapt to the new digital environment. Digitalisation in care services includes important communication improvements, which are essential in a field of work that is dependent on the relationship between the specialists and those in need of care. With this in mind, #diRK focusses on developing the digital literacy of carers to improve the services they provide and their communication with patients.
The two-year project’s first stage began in 2018, when the German Red Cross started to raise awareness among participants about major trends in digitalisation. Tools were also provided to enable them to deal with the new challenges brought about by digital transformation. The spectrum includes shifting documentation practices from paper to tablet, duty roster planning, using collaboration and communication tools to support teamwork, and working with computer-controlled beds and health care robots. The aim was to develop a vision and a mindset for a “digital Red Cross”. In practical terms, this meant tackling topics such as new management practices using agile methods, proactive project and change management, and initial and on-the-job training with digital tools to develop ideas with participants that were applicable to their daily routines.
In May 2019, the project moved on to topic-oriented workshops and innovation labs covering both home and institutional care. Participants have also started working on a social media strategy to reach larger numbers of volunteers and interest more people in working with the Red Cross particularly in core activities. In these workshops and labs, participants have time to develop exploratory spaces and networks in order to advance their own practical projects. They also serve to increase awareness among people in Saxony-Anhalt about the Red Cross’ work and welfare projects.
The workshops and innovation labs follow a “design thinking process”: taking a step back and looking at what is currently being achieved, while observing and analysing the way issues have been handled so far. This means examining every single step of a process and evaluating where there is scope to support the procedure through digital tools to relieve the caregiver or provide better assistance to people who need care. Based on these findings, participants develop a vision and concrete steps that they test, assess, improve and test again. It is important that during this process, participants collaborate as experts, connect with each other and add their valuable practical experience.
With this project, the German Red Cross aims to qualify 30 practitioners across the state Several good-practice projects are also set to be developed in the field of digitalisation of care. After the project, participants will be able to transfer their knowledge to other professionals in the sector. In addition, #diRK aims to create a strong network between academic research, the economy of digitalisation, public authorities and the German Red Cross to make the findings more visible and accessible. The overall objective is to frame the process of digitalisation in a way that makes it intuitive and easy to navigate, while maintaining the needs of the patients as a top priority. Ideally, practitioners in health and social care will find their work made easier by digital tools, giving them more time for personal encounters with their clients.