An increasing number of aged care providers are implementing emerging technologies to drive efficiency improvements. They are doing this in response to the substantial growth the aged care industry is set to experience over the coming decade, with predictions that 3.5 million Australians will access aged care services everyday by 20501.
One of the aged care providers at the forefront of this new technology adoption is Sapphire Care, which has developed a number of initiatives to help both staff and residents embrace technology.
Sapphire Care was founded in 2003 with the objective of changing the way in which the aged care industry was viewed and operated. Starting with just one residence, they are now the largest residential care provider in Victoria after merging with provider BlueCross in 2017.
Sapphire Care has committed themselves to moving their residences into the 21st century to help improve the comfort and wellbeing of their residents. The company’s facilities come equipped with wireless internet and flat screen TVs that are designed to enable residents to stay in contact with their loved ones.
Sapphire Care has also implemented initiatives to reduce staff time spent on administrative tasks to support them in providing better and more efficient care.
Through this, they have developed a software package Emprevo. This has been commercialised and is now being used nationally and in New Zealand across the aged care, acute and childcare sectors. Emprevo is a digital, mobile-first application that was developed as a shift-filling application to ease the pain of filling vacant staff shifts across multiple sites and reduce underemployment among Sapphire Care’s employees. It has also decreased the company’s reliance on agency staff. This has the additional benefit of enabling more consistent care for residents.
Sapphire Care has also launched two internal digital tools, online mandatory training and MyHUB.
The online training modules are currently in pilot mode and were developed in conjunction with RMIT University to deliver user-friendly and effective training to all levels of staff. The system also collects staff records and data assessments, which can then be used to indicate areas where additional training is required.
MyHUB brings together aggregated information from the company’s clinical system, payroll, roster and finance system, and business and compliance critical excel spreadsheets. This creates a central depository for all resident and staff files, providing faster and more accurate data availability for both direct carers and central office data management. It also reduces confusion and enables concise handovers.
The system has an intuitive design and as a result, it has become the company’s preferred means of accessing information for measuring compliance by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) during unannounced assessment contact visits and re-accreditations.
Regulatory requirements for aged care providers can take up considerable time for staff so systems that improve this process will be vital as the sector continues to grow.
“Aged care is a very complex industry with high compliance and reporting obligations. To fulfil these requirements, as well as offer quality and consistent care, we need to embrace new technology. This allows our frontline staff to spend more time caring for our residents and their families instead of filling out forms, organising staff and managing complex non-integrated systems,” says Sapphire Care General Manager of Human Resources Toni Flynn.
1Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce 2018, A Matter of Care Australia’s Aged Care Workforce Strategy.