The aged care sector is experiencing pressure from all sides. The population is ageing, workers are in short supply and reporting requirements are becoming more stringent. When combining this with the uncertainty of a global pandemic, inefficiencies can create feelings of unease and stress across the sector.
In 2020, the Australian Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission conducted 147 residential aged care site audits. After personal and clinical care, the second most frequent requirement of the unmet standards was Standard 8, “Effective Governance Systems”. This specifically relates to the governance systems supporting information management, continuous improvement, financial and workforce governance, regulatory compliance and feedback and complaints.
As part of the Royal Commission report and federal budget commitment, the Australian Government promised to give the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) about $25 million to undertake an additional 1,500 safety audits in residential care facilities for 2021-2022. So, data management systems and the assessments thereof, have been more frequent for organisations, along with other safety audits necessary to maintain quality care.
By 2025, Gartner predicts that 60 per cent of global midmarket and large enterprises will have invested in cloud-based tools for operational management. Digital solutions that can alleviate the pressure of operational processes and be a hugely effective in boosting productivity and engagement.
In addition to ensuring improved communication, covid safe compliance and enhanced consumer well-being, management software assists with the implementation of care compliance, rostering, social interaction, volunteers, feedback and forms in a platform that is easy, and accessible to all. And employees who are upskilled in ever-changing technologies can become champions of new tools, helping spearhead innovation moving forward.
Empowered employees are a company’s backbone, and it is up to aged care providers to provide staff with the tools needed for efficient work. Cloud-based digital tools have the potential to benefit employee productivity and quality of care.
Utilising management software or AI to improve personcentric services throughout an organisation however, means diving deep into the data being amassed daily. Data is a critical element of developing client affinity.
Aged care facilities have access to a substantial amount of rich information about the people they care for within their facilities and residential care. In a world where data keeps on innovating businesses, there is a significant potential data holds for the sector.
According to Professor Johanna Westbrook, Director of Australian Institute of Health Innovation, “The aged care sector needs a significant overhaul, based on their research, in terms of what can we do now to improve care, recognising the demands and limitations of the system… And the focus should be on better using existing data and particularly leveraging the power of information technology in partnership with aged care providers and consumers.”
But how can data help one improve care services?
Many aged care facilities are rich in data, but only a few have access to interpret it and help them with business decision-making to expand their facilities.
If data is used effectively in the sector, it can enhance services and client care experience. These can include:
- A better understanding of the needs and preferences of people needing care
- The ability to develop and innovate with technology that meets the needs of the clients
- Empowering support workers to understand the technology, improve care and boost employee morale
These are just some of the significant opportunities that the aged care sector can take advantage of by using the available data in their organisations to drive innovation, experience, and boost efficiency.
Data collection practices and dashboards thrive in innovation and increase the quality of care delivered throughout an organisation.
1. Manage data by centralising client records
2. Ensuring the data is valuable
3. Consistently analyse data to get to know the clients, their needs and preferences.
Manage data by centralising client records
Aged care facilities have been used to managing their information with manual spreadsheets, paper documents and forms. This process is prone to errors and is timeconsuming for the staff. It is also harder for teams to take note of important insights to improve the business. By digitising a facility’s data management system, staff have more time to deliver care and centralise client records that can be accessed using a computer or a mobile application.
With a centralised data management system, management and care teams can view and update client profiles, findings, and services on one page. The ability to see a client’s information; interests, social groups, and complex care reports from different support workers ensure that those responsible have the whole picture when making decisions and planning.
Ensuring that data is valuable
For the data to be valuable to an organisation’s growth and further boost the client care experience, one must ensure its accuracy and significance.
Data accuracy refers to error-free documents that can be used as a reliable source of information. When data management relies on manual entry by different people from different places (in the instance that you have several branches), it’s hard to collect and update documents. When teams store data in a centralised data management system, it keeps the same information, maintains consistency, avoids human error, and has a clear record of any revisions or updates.
Relevance is another ambiguous characteristic of data; what are the essential details one needs to note to help you provide better services to your clients? What care assistance has been increasing in demand? Because there is so much data available from clients, it’s essential to filter out the necessary details to improve the client care experience and overall operations.
Analysing data to get to know the clients better
Once everything is digital; the organisation has one entry point system of all data, too. But has it helped to make better business decisions, to boost workflow and services?
Data analysis can help organisations better understand their clients, evaluate their facility and their services. Ultimately, businesses can use data analytics to expand their facilities. By analysing the data one collects, care teams can point out the areas that need improvement, such as the capacity of retirement villages, upgrading management systems, and increasing demand for support workers.
Finding the right tools that will help one better read and interpret the data is a good investment when it comes to data analysis, such as dashboard tools that are easily accessed by your teams. Ideally, it should be user-friendly enough that your team can jump in and understand the data in front of them and how it can be used to your advantage without the need for a walk-through.
Keeping up with the latest technology trends to improve business operations is a growing requirement in today’s world and seeing the significant role of data in a business and how it can be turned into an asset in a business will give everyone a better understanding of clients, allowing facilities to adapt services that meet their needs, improving the effectiveness and efficiency.
Aged care has changed enormously over the past few decades. The rapid pace of this change continues with digital solutions transforming how we live, work and look after our ageing population. Digitalisation has created new opportunities that will allow us to address challenges faced by this industry.