The technology-focused recommendations in the aged care royal commission are welcome, but the government’s promised $452 million may not be enough to implement them, says Greg O’Loan.

Greg O’Loan

Ensuring home care that is standardised, accessible, and delivers the utmost care is of paramount importance.

The 100+ recommendations tabled in the Royal Commission Aged Care, Quality and Safety final report show just how important it is to get this right. It also highlights glaring holes in the existing system that need action, fast.

As a technology provider to the aged care industry, we were satisfied with the number of technology-focused recommendations that were put forward – specifically a whole section of the report looks at improving aged care through data, research and technology – but we do wonder whether the additional investment of $452 million to meet these improvements falls short of what is required. 

From a home care perspective, we agree the Australian government should implement an assistive technology and home modifications category within the aged care program that provides goods, aids, equipment, technologies and services that promote a level of independence in daily living tasks and reduces risks to living safely at home.

Technology, of course, plays a key part to the delivery of accessible, quality community care. We know there is growing demand from providers for solutions that simplify the work of managing field staff and providing the best available care for clients, in the comfort of their own home.

There are already existing tech-savvy home care providers implementing fully-integrated and holistic software systems that are designed for home care providers specifically, pairing it with smart technology in the homes of their clients to help in the provision of care.

Light on detail

And while care providers are clearly already on board, we felt some of the final report’s recommendations didn’t provide sufficient detail, particularly when it comes to the interconnectedness of the home care, respite and residential care. I know providers, and clients and residents themselves would benefit from a solution that provides a single client record while being able to support operations and funding for all categories of aged care for example.

Technology is also about staying connected. The interaction between care worker and client is instrumental in providing favourable outcomes. Making sure clients get the services they need, when they need them, from their preferred supplier can make a huge difference to the quality of care experienced by the client.

And technology is key to simplifying these interactions. Smart software, for example, can generate visits and services based on client preferences, in a client-centric way. It helps staff use resources according to their availability and expertise, and enables organisations to schedule the right resources based on location, skills, availability and client need.

For example, if clients are more receptive to a particular care provider, then it makes sense to schedule that provider to attend to that client as much as possible. This means the client will have a better experience and be more likely to take their medications as directed. Or, if a client suffers from diabetes, then the community care provider should be able to easily roster workers who are highly experienced in caring for people with diabetes, helping them to better manage their condition and providing the appropriate level of care and quality.

Dedicated ERP software solutions hosted on the cloud are a simple-to-use, mobile-ready way for organisations to manage field staff. Having one simple solution to cover every aspect of in-home or community care, from identification to closure, and can be used on any compatible device is a game changer for providers, helping facilitate workforce management, resource allocation, and talent acquisition and retention.

Having a solution hosted on the cloud also means carers on the road can accept, progress, enter case notes, and complete jobs on a compatible mobile device anywhere and at any time.

Automating manual processes facilitates daily operations at a faster pace, more seamlessly and reliably – ensuring that no detail, no matter how small, is overlooked. It frees up carers and staff to focus on what’s important – the delivery of high-quality, personalised care.

‘Single source of truth’

For providers, having a single source of truth will help them make better decisions and be more efficient and competitive. That’s a recommendation we would have liked to have seen in the final report – a fully working data governance and minimum data set – providing easier data sharing, integration and interoperability.

This would allow software solutions to integrate through open-source APIs, providing reporting for quality indicators, prudential requirements, and other care-giving reporting requirements.

This kind of technology will become increasingly important as the number of home care recipients continues to grow in the next 10 to 20 years.

*Greg O’Loan is Software Regional Vice President for ANZ at Epicor

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