The release of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report with the title Care, Dignity and Respect signals a significant step to a new Aged Care Reform and an opportunity for the government, care providers, and the community to move towards a better care system for older Australians.
But moving forward with an aging population is going to require significant industry wide changes. The Royal Commission released 148 recommendations, including using technology to improve the quality of service and care which our elderly Australians deserve. Providers are asked to reassess their digital strategies and ensure that the care delivered is up to standard and accessible for everyone. Here are some of the ways technology will be used to enhance the aged care industry.
Investing in client management technology
The Commissioners’ highlighted the significant challenges and limitations of the current technology infrastructure and architecture for aged care, such as inefficient record-keeping for clinical and administrative information management, including My Health Records. Based on further research and investigation, current systems are not reliable for collecting and managing information across government, aged care services, hospitals and other health care providers.
“First, the systems should be designed to enable better services for older people. This should include a new service-wide client relationship management system for care management, case monitoring and reporting systems built around older people’s care. Data and information should be accessible, accurate and up-to-date, and there should be standardised systems and tools to make the user experience easy and efficient.”
Data management is an essential part of any industry, and it is required to be reliable and accurate at all times. By using effective digital data management solutions, care providers can rely on high-quality data to inform their processes and to assist client needs. This will boost data security and enable proper compliance and workflows in managing records and services, which leads to greater efficiency, allowing more time for quality care.
By implementing a client management system, care staff can proactively take care of their residents by understanding their needs, personal preferences and track their well-being, through a digital solution, rather than on a piece of paper or with an Excel workbook.
Empowerment with Smart Technology
The Royal Commission report emphasised that all care recipients should have access to Assistive technology which plays a vital role in care, especially for individuals with a disability. This includes electric wheelchairs, voice amplifiers and other devices that can improve quality of life. This innovation is significant for improving independence for elderly or disabled clients.
“Increased investment is needed in pre-certified assistive technologies and smart technology to support care and functional needs of older people, and help manage their safety and contribute to their quality of life.”
Several care providers have used smart technology innovations through the years by integrating Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) in assisting the elderly. And according to the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council’s (ACIITC) CARE-IT report, “there is evidence that smart home technologies can enhance the safety and security of individuals”.
These innovations have already helped aged care in several aspects, such as reducing social isolation, connecting retirees to their loved ones, especially during the pandemic. Several programs were also launched to improve retirement living for the elderly and encourage them to include technology in their daily lives. One of the primary goals of smart technology solutions for the aged care sector is to provide convenience for older Australians and as well as to assist in mobility. By utilising devices like Smart TVs and Smart Speakers for client concierge and communication platforms, retirees can access several services to help them in their day-to-day activities. These devices help create a safe and private environment for residents to connect with their families and communities.
Developing National Aged Care Data Assets
“There should also be an investment in systems that talk to each other and allow for seamless systems for reporting. There should be interoperability of information and communications systems. This would enable the sharing of data and information about people accessing aged care between aged care and health care providers and relevant government agencies.”
In regards to data management, the Royal Commission recommended building a purpose-driven National Aged Care Data Asset that aims to “provide a better understanding of the life experiences, pathways and outcomes of people receiving aged care the operation performance of the aged care system. It should linked with the data collected on primary and acute health care as well as disability care.”
This recommendation supports the increase of investment in aged care research and innovation funds to allow continuous development in the industry to meet the needs of the elderly. Research should not only be focused on health-related, clinical and medical matters only, but it should also extend research about the delivery of aged care, technology, better governance practices of aged care providers, and the social-economics of ageing.
By making aged care data available to the public, Australian citizens, especially retirees and their loved ones, can access reliable information about care providers and their services. This recommendation will also help facilities continuously use the research and data to upgrade their care facilities constantly.
Supporting workforce service with innovation
According to research done by the University of Wollongong in 2019 about residential aged care staffing levels, more than half of the Australian care residents were living in facilities with insufficient staffing levels. These circumstances have greatly affected the quality and quantity of care each resident receives. Again this is more often than not, not at the fault of the facility, but as a result of minimal funding and resources.
Along with the negative impacts of low staffing levels in the aged care sector, it is essential to ensure that the workforce can quickly adapt and provide digital services to the elderly. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the workforce was “forced” to innovate which created opportunities for providers to use technology to support their teams, from managing carers and staff, scheduling care support to organising budget, funding and creating an effective workflow.
Ensuring efficient operations in care facilities is vital to develop safe and quality services for the elderly. This can be achieved by investing in digital technology such as care management platforms that assist care providers and care workers in managing their work and services for their clients, improving collaboration with colleagues, and organising client record information all in one solution.
Using technology for care governance standard
An aged care provider’s core objectives should be to enhance the well-being of the elderly by providing them with safe and high-quality care and to put the older person’s wishes and needs first. But over the years, deficiencies in provider governance and funding have resulted in shortcomings in the quality of care and service delivery in the current aged care system. More often than not, this is not solely at the fault of the provider, but due to a lack of funding, resources and efficient technology to assist across all processes.
To address these issues, the Royal Commission’s recommendations included calls for a new governance standard for aged care providers (Recommendation 90), which cites requirements to set better provider governance standards. Such as “consistent and confident leadership at all levels of aged care organisations” and the boards, executives, and staff’s commitment to the aged care system’s core values.
Care facilities can utilise technology to deliver positive changes in care governance by using care management platforms that enable them to improve the quality of care by streamlining internal processes, strengthening transparency for their residents and staff, and accountability in their services.
There are great opportunities to further develop and improve the industry with digital innovations. As a technology provider for the aged care sector, CareVision is optimistic about the Royal Commission’s recommendations. We are looking forward to continuing working with care providers to ensure the quality and safety of older Australians’ care services in the years to come.
The CareVision team recognises and understands how important it is for your organisation to give your residents the best care. We want to help by providing you with information and the right tools for implementing technology advancements in your facilities. You may reach out by emailing us here, or you may call us at 1300 324 070.