The royal commission’s recommendations provide significant directions for community care providers to consider in strategic considerations as well as providing signals to drive investment decisions regarding greater uptake of innovation, writes Anne Livingstone.
At the top of considerations must be awareness that within the first recommendation, relating to the fundamentals of a new aged care system, is a key focus that an object of the new Act should be promoting innovation in aged care based on research.
This firmly places emphasis on community care providers to consider what the evidence is indicating about what positive impacts certain technologies ,along with more innovative practice, can have for older people and their carers.
Research by the Australian Aged Care Technology Council (ACIITC) recently explored a range of technologies and explored if the contemporary evidence was showing these were more impactful and lead to improved quality.
This body of evidence is growing and astute providers are investing in their own research or partnering with research entities to ensure that investments in innovation result in measurable impacts.
There is direct evidence that these investments can drive outcomes for organisations including improved quality, increased consumer empowerment and increased productivity.
Acknowledging the role of technology
The royal commission has also outlined several recommendations which acknowledge directly the significant role certain technologies can play in ensuring that aged and community care services of the future are of higher quality and are safer. It is encouraging to see the emphasis on assistive technology, telehealth, and telecare services in the recommendations.
These technologies are not new and our recent landmark research on Capabilities in Aged & Community Care Readiness: An Evaluation of Innovation & Technology (CARE-IT) undertaken in 2020 spotlighted the impact that these technologies could provide.
This research was aimed at assessing the capabilities and readiness of the
aged and community care industry in five key areas. These included business support and
administration, reporting and online access to government, surveillance and monitoring
technologies, telehealth, and smart care at home.
The report tabled nine recommendations three of which covered the need to improve the digita maturity of the workforce, further exploration of investment strategies, and the need to significantly improve the business-to-government interfaces.
These three initial recommendations have been the focus of current work and should be a feature for all community care providers.
Ensuring community care providers achieve a workforce that can provide digital services of the future is of paramount importance. Appreciating that community care providers have already significant workforce pressure across all levels and a range of issues, a clear future pressure will be filling the clearly identified skill gaps when it comes to digital enhancements in care and support.
Additionally, the ‘forced’ innovation experienced during Covid where the workforce was required to quickly adapt to higher levels of digital service delivery provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the successes and failures during this time and to refocus on developing a workforce that we need to better serve future care requirements.
The business-to-government interface was clearly identified as causing inefficiencies and lost
productivity in the Care IT Research and has been picked up by the royal commission as a key area for improvement.
The Care IT Research also identified the requirements to undertake national benchmarking to measure and drive areas of improvement, the need to develop new innovative service models and workforces, the requirement to detail minimum standards for technology and digital skills, and the possibilities of new projects within community care to assist post covid economic recovery.
Opportunities for co-design
This research provides essential considerations for community care providers including case studies of best practice, national perspectives on industry positioning, as well as guidance as to where to focus investment strategies.
Significant work is being progressed to ensure all the findings of this research, which align with the recommendations of the royal commission, are dealt with. Importantly we are working with various digital health and care focused organisations nationally and internationally to ensure leading practic is promoted and collaborative effort is achieved.
Importantly, the opportunities for co-designing new approaches for community care in this post royalcommission and post Covid era should not be underestimated.
Great opportunities to redesign service models, identify future workforce needs and envision a digitally enhanced landscape of care and support are all present. I am proud to be part of a range of work and research that is being undertaken to achieve this and encourage all community care providers to express your interest in these new opportunities as they are release
*Anne Livingstone is the Executive Lead for the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council and Chair of the Community Care Smart Assistive Technology Collaborative. She was also project lead and co-author of the CARE IT Research Project.
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