Despite the benefits, most providers are not using smart home devices in the homes of their consumers, a major report on technology in the aged care sector has found.

Anne Livingstone

The Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council’s (ACIITC) CARE-IT report, launched by health minister Richard Colbeck last Thursday, found a low level of engagement with smart home technology as well as a digital maturity divide between providers who are using it and those that aren’t.

“We found some excellent examples of smart home technology being applied in some organisations, while at the other end of the spectrum some providers don’t know where to start,” project manager Anne Livingstone said.

“We found there’s real evidence that smart home technologies can enhance the safety and security of individuals but we also found that cost is still an inhibitor, that there are some concerns about privacy and security and reliability and usability of the technology.”

Most of the providers surveyed said they weren’t installing smart home technology in the homes of consumers, the survey found.

The top three technologies used by the 32 per cent who said they were using the technology included personal and medical alarms, tablets or mobile phones and wearable alarm devices.

The report says the relevance of smart home technology to the sector is increasing as prices drop and products become more widely available, and Dr Livingstone says vendors need to work more closely with consumers and providers to design products.

Landmark report

ACIITC Chair George Margelis says the CARE-IT report represents the culmination of five years work by the council and is a landmark that will set the groundwork for digitally enabled aged care in Australia in the future.

George Margelis

“We believe that better use of digital technology will help our industry evolve,” Dr Margelis said.

“We believe that this report and this research provides the opportunity to really start to develop some digital maturity goals for the sector and a strategic plan of attack and we’ll be working to see that happen.”

The project surveyed 139 vendors and 282 aged care organisations.

It contains findings on five key areas which along with smart care at home include administration and business support; reporting and online access to government; monitoring and surveillance technologies and telehealth.

The survey also found that approximately only one in three organisations have reached digital maturity and a “concerning percentage” of organisations don’t have appropriate security and protection technology.

 It also the Covid 19 pandemic has driven innovation in technology-enhanced care and accelerated adoption of technology.

For example, home care recipients are also able to use their packages to access personal monitoring services and HCP funds became available to digital technology and video conferencing equipment.

A core service component

Senator Colbeck said technology would become a core component of home care service delivery as the government reformed the sector.

“I think the technology will fit into the way that providers provide care,” he said. “It will be an integral part of the progress. Obviously we’re looking right now at how we can reform the provision of care at home.”

Richard Colbeck launches the CARE-IT report

He also acknowledged the financial challenges facing providers when it came to investment in technology and said that the government would consider providing assistance.

“Yes we will consider that, because we do understand for some it won’t be an easy move, and we are having some of those conversations already,” he said.

Access the ACIITC Aged and Community Care Innovation and Technology Capabilities and Readiness (CARE-IT) Report, discussion paper and case studies here.

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