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The landscape of Australia’s aged care has been rapidly evolving for years – with the focus on providing compassionate and efficient services for our elderly population. Amidst this evolution, digital communication technologies have emerged as a valuable asset in connecting caregivers, residents, and families.

Among these, SMS communications has stood out as a powerful tool with immense potential to revolutionise the aged care industry. When utilised thoughtfully and responsibly, SMS can be a game-changer, offering numerous benefits for everyone involved.

SMS communication offers unmatched immediacy and reach. Although the perceived thought is that older Australians aren’t tech-savvy – the vast majority own mobile phones and often prefer communicating through text messages, finding them more convenient and accessible than other digital platforms. By leveraging SMS communications, aged care providers can efficiently disseminate important information to residents and their families, ensuring they stay informed about events, updates, and changes in the care facility. Whether it’s appointment reminders, activity schedules, or health alerts, SMS messages provide real-time delivery and ensure critical information reaches the intended recipients promptly.

This also works extremely well on the flipside. Esendex has been working with a range of aged care providers for a number of years to take out the extensive labour time and cost when it comes to things such as finding staff when someone calls in sick or even simple mental health check-ins on staff. 

Loneliness and social isolation present a serious public health issue for older people, the ABS recently found, with compelling evidence about the physical and mental health impact of these phenomena. SMS communications strengthens the sense of community within aged care facilities. Regular personalised SMS messages, even a simple “good morning” or “thinking of you,” can brighten their day and foster a sense of belonging. Engaging with residents through thoughtful messages can alleviate feelings of social detachment and boost their overall well-being. This can also facilitate communication between residents, helping them form friendships and support networks that enhance their quality of life.

Another significant benefit of SMS communications in aged care is its cost-effectiveness. Traditional communication methods can be expensive, especially for care facilities operating on tight budgets. Funds saved on expenses can be redirected to improving facilities, enhancing training programs, or investing in activities that enrich residents’ lives.

However, off the back of recent headlines, prioritising privacy and data security of residents and facilities has never been more critical. Aged care providers should ensure they have consent from residents and their families before sending any SMS messages and data encryption and secure storage protocols must be implemented to safeguard personal information.

With recent data breaches and scam activity, there are some ways that older Australians and aged care providers can make sure they are keeping safe. Tech training programmes are a great way to engage older Australians in aged care and make sure they understand the benefits and risks. 

Simple tips like being aware that no one should ask for your bank account details or personal documents over text or phone calls and being sure to make anyone over the phone give adequate proof that they are who they say they are. Letting them know when in doubt, hang up/don’t reply and speak to a relative or care provider before proceeding. 

SMS holds great potential for aged care but it is essential to strike a balance between digital communication and human interaction. Technology should never replace the value of face-to-face engagement, but rather complement and enhance it. Aged care providers can use SMS as a tool to augment the quality of care and personal touch they provide, not as a substitute.

By harnessing the power of technology responsibly and with empathy, we can create a brighter future for our elderly population, where they receive the care and attention they truly deserve. As we embrace this digital evolution, let us remember that behind every text message lies the potential to positively impact lives and make a real difference in the world of aged care.

Attributed to Jonathan Walsh, General Manager APAC, Esendex Australia