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Aged care providers’ digital implications based on the "Safety, Care, Dignity, and Respect" report

To grasp this significant opportunity a clear articulation of the speed, direction and extent of reform is now key.

Based on the royal commission’s final report the government has confirmed their intent and investment and funding for the sector, and it will be up to providers to transform the way aged care is delivered and experienced by older Australians and their families. To grasp this significant opportunity a clear articulation of the speed, direction and extent of reform is now key.


Care technologies have the potential to directly and positively impact the aged care experience. However, digital investment shouldn’t be seen by providers as simply a response to quality and safety, but used as a key differentiator in attracting new customers, as it will go to the heart of the consumer experience.


Providers must get the basics right, and this means being guided by a prioritised digital strategy. Significant investment is needed in core infrastructure and systems to ensure safe care, compliance and sustainable businesses. Digital must be central to any new models of care in the community, and to the design of new accommodation options for people with more complex needs.


The final report is just the beginning

The aged care royal commission’s findings are compelling, and of the 148 recommendations in its final report there are some appropriately bold recommendations around the use of technology, and the data it provides, as it can, for example, make the recommended Quality indicators real-time, and improve access to aged care services for people.


This presents an opportunity to identify the roles innovation and technology can play in significantly improving the quality and safety of aged and community care services, as well as enhancing personalisation and efficiency of service delivery.


The recommendations includes a significant spotlight on the role technology can play. A various number of recommendations speak to technology, including recommendation:


  • 34: Assistive Technology and Home Modifications Category.

  • 40: Transition to care at home (access to assistive technology).

  • 68: Universal adoption by the aged care sector of digital technology and My Health Record.

  • 107: Aged Care Research and Innovation Fund.

  • 109: ICT Architecture and investment in technology and infrastructure.

See for more details: Final Report Recommendations


These recommendations introduce some key issues and opportunities that providers will need to navigate to consistently deliver great care, operate sustainably and realise success in a new aged care system.


Five key elements will drive provider transformation


1) Develop a dynamic strategy


A dynamic strategy is the first step towards provider transformation. Agility will be key. Providers should craft an ambitious and compelling strategy, incorporating technology and workforce buy-in, if they want to maximise impact and future-proof their vision. It also needs to consider the role of mergers & acquisitions and especially partnerships.


Strategic disruption is expected. But a sound organisational purpose and mission will prove enduring.


2) Put people, experience and outcomes at the heart of aged care

A systems approach to quality and improvement is key if providers are to consistently deliver on community expectations. New skills, processes and systems are needed alongside cultural reform.


Care in this setting encompasses all aspects of health and wellness, including physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. True transformation means placing each person, their family and carers at the heart of the way providers design, deliver and appraise services.


They will need to develop a structured approach to measuring experiences, including reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of services, and then adapt service delivery based on these insights.


3) Equip your team for care, collaboration and change


Despite tremendous technological advances, we have not seen corresponding changes in the way care is provided or technology was used. Why has care technology introductions not succeeded in doing what it could do well; enabling the elderly, loved ones and care providers to do what humans do best – care and connect?

Finding good technologies doesn’t seem to be the biggest challenge, sustainably adopting them by the team and organisation is! Key influences on the non-adoption and abandonment of the technologies by individuals, or limited success in attempts to move from a successful trial project to a fully scaled sustainable service within and beyond the care organisations, need to be actively managed.


Digital will be a powerful enabler of the aged care workforce of the future and leading providers will utilise technology to support and enable workforce development rather than simply as a means for transactional efficiencies. Providers should take advantage of the range of new funding opportunities to manage the technology adoption challenges, like for example for training to upskill their teams.


Finally, seeking worker buy-in to organisational strategy and values so that employees can align behind a common ‘true north’ will help to motivate and engage the team.


Organisational scale provides clear opportunities to drive efficient operations. Providers should re-evaluate opportunities to access the benefits of scale through partnerships, alliances and outsourcing arrangements.


4) Align operations and the environment with the new system

Customer expectations have changed
Customer expectations have changed

The value of good data and systems will be accentuated, particularly in the management of staff, compliance and service delivery. While the technology is not new, it took a crisis to gain traction and there is now no going back. Virtual health and wellbeing through digital tools will now be a core element of connecting residents, families, staff and healthcare professionals. Tracking clients & staff whereabouts and responding to alerts based on remotely monitored status data enables actions to become proactive.


5) Optimise your environment


Due to exciting advances in technology, expansions in home-based and residential care will be required, and continue to be central to the aged care system of the future.


Digital solutions are the key to success

The aged care royal commission has shown the sector is lagging when it comes to digital transformation. Not only do digital tools support the operations of care organisations on a day-to-day basis, they also underpin each of the key elements that drive provider transformation. While there are some examples of digital innovation, the current funding environment has hampered scale-up. So too has a lack of capital investment.


The commission’s recommendations seek to address the root causes of under-investment, and catalyse technology uptake through specific funding initiatives. Providers should reassess their digital strategies and their potential to deliver positive change for care recipients, as well as improved service and business performance for providers and funders.


An abundance of exciting technology is emerging for the aged care sector. These technologies have the potential to directly and positively impact the aged care experience. Moreover, customer expectations have changed. The care recipients of today (and tomorrow) and their families are increasingly tech savvy and demand digital solutions in all aspects of their lives.


Starting on this journey


While the journey ahead is likely to be long for the aged care sector, success is achievable, so long as the experiences highlighted in the aged care royal commission’s hearings are learned from, and the recommendations brought to life. Aged care providers can start to evolve now around human centred, insight driven and digitally enabled care. Planning for what is needed is critical to ensuring the right path is taken.


Contact us if you like our assistance to build, review or improve your human centred, insight driven and digitally enabled care strategy. Planning for what is needed is critical to ensuring the right path is taken.


Hubert van Dalen


 

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