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How digital technology is helping to transform the quality of care in aged care homes

It’s no secret that the utilisation of digital technology has facilitated innovation and improved digital access for many of Australia’s aged care homes.

Providers relying heavily on paper or outdated systems to evidence care have been hit especially hard due to the mounting time pressures around administrating and evidencing medication, which have accelerated exponentially since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Unsurprisingly, such unprecedented events have forced aged care providers to adapt with the times or risk getting left behind.

Yass Valley, an aged care group based in New South Wales, was no different.

After all, it was only two years ago that all care administration was paper-based and documented separately, with individual charts and lists needing to be updated daily. Now, everything is integrated into one digital system, making it easier to track/keep records up to date. In fact, since implementation, the Yass Valley team is documenting over 2,000 care notes daily.

The group has also integrated and utilised several COVID-19 specific features to protect those most vulnerable. These included coronavirus reporting, staff coronavirus auditing, track and trace reporting, and a video portal that allows residents and families to communicate in real-time.

Moreover, the quality of information that is transmitted over to aged care home managers has increased exceptionally. Also, since incorporating profile-building software and digital clinical documentation, there is more of a meticulous focus on providing individual-focused care, which leads to an overall improvement of a person’s life.

Mobile digital care systems have helped to reduce the time it would take to physically transcribe care notes as staff can record information at the point of care, while also mitigating the risk of errors through innovative icon-driven tools.

Equally, Embracia, an aged care group in Queensland, has utilised digital technology in the form of care planning software to increase the level of activity from caregivers on their respective care floors. As a result, carers have reduced the time spent away from residents when completing documentation, as they can now access notes on the go. This has enabled the residents to be more involved in the evidencing of their care, too.

Embracia has two sites, one with 120 residents and the other with 75 residents. Both are residential aged care homes based on the Eden and Montessori models of care, meaning they favour a person-centred care approach. Keeping with that ethos, the transition to digital technology has enabled caregivers to evidence care in real-time through the simple click of a button, which is instantaneously saved into a secure online portal accessible to all those in the organisation who have been granted access. At a time where room for error is so marginal, carers now have the resources to dedicate their time to residents as opposed to sweating over repetitive data logs.

Across Australia, the implementation of digital technology saves carers, on average, a total of 180,000 minutes every day. This is valuable time that can be reinvested into solely spending time with and taking care of residents.

With the Australian Government planning to invest $60 million to extend support for COVID-19 response measures in aged care homes until 30 June 2022, it would be wise to utilise a large proportion of that funding for digital care technology. In doing so, aged care homes can eliminate the unnecessary burden of paper-based dependency for more effective and multifunctional technology, especially with the continually increasing pressure of mercurial COVID-19 changes.

It is clear to see the benefits of technology, and aged care providers are quickly learning how its flexibility can drive improvements in care delivery and management.

Ultimately, the shift from a task-driven model to a more person-centred approach has improved and empowered the quality of care delivered by Australian caregivers exponentially.

Tammy Sherwood is the CEO of Person Centred Software Australia, a leading global technology company and developer.

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