Home | Opinion | Easing admin challenges in aged care with digital visitor management systems – opinion

Easing admin challenges in aged care with digital visitor management systems – opinion

Australia’s experience with the coronavirus has demonstrated how rapidly viruses can spread within the community and the devastating impact it can have in vulnerable settings, such as aged care homes.

As case numbers fluctuate and some restrictions continue, Australia’s already-pressured aged care industry faces more challenges, such as staff shortages due to COVID-19-related illness. In addition, recent data indicates up to 75 per cent of workers in the aged care sector intend to leave within the next five years, and 19 per cent plan to leave as soon as possible.1

While engaging contractors and temporary staff to support organisations can alleviate some of the challenges posed by labour shortages, it can also lead to an increased administrative burden, as managing visitor and staff access onsite takes time away from caring for residents.

One way aged care organisations can improve visitor management and better protect residents is by investing in digital visitor management systems that automatically track onsite visitors and contractors with customised sign-in processes and integrated health and safety inductions.

The new support tools for aged care workers

Digital visitor management systems are becoming an increasingly crucial investment for the safety and management of aged care organisations. Cloud-based solutions offer a more efficient way of managing and tracking onsite visitors compared to manual, paper-based sign-in processes. This lets aged care organisations elevate safety and compliance across their sites while simultaneously reducing overheads and administration costs.

There are two primary ways that digital solutions help aged care organisations:

Enhanced safety and security: Managing visitors onsite at aged care facilities has been critical to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 among residents while simultaneously supporting contact tracing efforts throughout the pandemic.

Digital visitor management solutions can help to streamline this process by automating the visitor sign-in process. The latest solutions help to improve site security by digitally registering all site visitors, facilitating rapid access to an overview of who is onsite at any given time for facility staff.

This guarantees that administrative staff will have access to the most up-to-date information possible about visitors should a health event or security breach occur.

Cost-effective solutions: Digital visitor management systems eliminate the need for dedicated staff to be available to check in visitors. Not only does this reduce administrative costs, it also lets staff dedicate their time to prioritising other time-sensitive tasks and provide support to residents and other workers as needed.

While there are costs involved, digital visitor management systems ultimately serve as a long-term investment in the health, safety and operations of aged care facilities.

While the pandemic poses an immediate challenge, it’s not the only issue putting pressure on the industry. The number of Australians aged 65 years and over is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade to 2030, as increasing numbers of baby boomers born between 1946-1964 turn 65.2

The proportion of Australians aged 70 and over is predicted to rise at a compound annual rate of 3.3 per cent over the coming years to 2025-2026.3 And, by 2058, it’s expected that the number of Australians aged 85 years or older will increase to more than 1.5 million people (3.7 per cent of the population), from just over 503,000 people (two per cent of the population) today.4

As the number of older Australians continues to rise, the role of the aged care sector will continue to grow, as will the number of workers needed to support it. And, as recent survey results from the United Workers Union indicate, 19 per cent of workers also intend to leave the industry in the next 12 months and up to 75 per cent of workers within five years,5 the movement of workers, contractors and potentially volunteers between aged care facilities will change, making effective visitor management an increasingly crucial feature of aged care organisations.

As such, it’s essential that aged care providers and supporting organisations act now to help better support residents and workers into the future. Aged care facilities can leverage digital solutions now to better protect the health of residents, workers and visitors as COVID-19 becomes endemic and in the case of future health events or flu seasons or changes in the how these facilities are run and staffed.

Stephen Darracott is vice president and country manager, Pitney Bowes Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

(1) https://unitedworkers.org.au/media-release/aged-care-crisis-a-full-blown-workforce-crisis-survey/
(2) https://www.abs.gov.au/articles/twenty-years-population-change
(3) IBISWorld, Australia Business Environment Profiles Report C1356: Population aged 70 and older, February 2021: https://www.ibisworld.com/au/bed/population-aged-70-older/23/
(4) https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/news-and-media/medium-and-long-term-pressures-system-changing-demographics-and-dynamics-aged-care
(5) https://unitedworkers.org.au/media-release/aged-care-crisis-a-full-blown-workforce-crisis-survey/

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One comment

  1. Digital managements reply completely on the appropriate questions being asked. When one of the questions cannot be answered truthfully, eg have you just done a RAT when the requirement is only 2 a week for frequent visitors, or answering a question for staff and contractors when the person signing in is a visitor, the whole thing becomes invalid when there is only a binary question. I have had failed log ins for weeks and I just don’t bother any more. Reception is on leave anyway. I would complete a written form and take my own temperature without problem.

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