Can technology drive quality in aged care?

| 04 Sep 2014
Nurse talking to older woman

Achieving high quality care is something all aged care providers strive for. Today we take a look back at a blog post from 2013 that’s message is as important as ever; technology can help to improve quality in aged care.

Technology will never stand to replace the human interaction that occupies the very heart of aged care. Nor will it ever replace the compassion, kindness, empathy and understanding between care providers and the people they support.

However, what technology does represent is the potential to enhance the quality of aged care by empowering care providers with ways to:

  • improve operational efficiencies,
  • reduce errors and risks,
  • increase capacity to manage limited resources effectively, and
  • give care and nursing staff more time and space to deliver personalised care and support.

There is a wide-range of information technology and software being exclusively developed for the aged care sector, many of which include residential and home care-specific applications that work together to positively influence the quality of care and support services delivered.

Improving quality of care in residential aged care

Electronic care management applications are now a common site within residential aged care facilities throughout Australia, providing care and nursing staff with the ability to deliver more efficient and effective care. The simplified electronic collection of information at the resident’s bedside ensures greater accuracy of resident records, while rapid access to this information provides care and nursing staff with the ability to be more responsive in their daily care provisions. Illegible documentation is replaced by electronic care plans that support person-centred resident care and assist facilities to more effectively demonstrate and ensure compliance. Similarly, electronic medication administration enables care and nursing staff to more effectively coordinate, monitor and administer medications, which can greatly improve resident safety.

Replacing paper-based records with comprehensive electronic records also facilitates the flow of this information between the wider health care community including hospitals, medical practitioners, pharmacies, and specialists. Whether it is transitioning a resident from a residential facility to a hospital in an emergency, or to an elective appointment with a specialist, electronic resident records play a major role in communicating the most relevant and important information for each resident.

Residential aged care facilities are also extending broadband internet access to their residents, which is a powerful tool in building a sense of belonging, support and connection. Applications that support video, chat, email and other online communications ensure residents can quickly and easily connect with relatives, close friends and the community, which can significantly contribute to a greater quality of life.

Improving quality of care in the home

Technology-based solutions can simultaneously enhance the quality of care and the quality of life of elderly people that choose to live in their own homes. Advancements in technology are enabling the ageing population to remain self-sufficient for longer, extending the amount of time they can maintain independence in their own homes, where they are most comfortable.

Smart scheduling and rostering systems ensure the most appropriate care worker can automatically be allocated to a specific care recipient based on a comprehensive list of pre-determined criteria. These include factors such as staff availability, travel requirements, qualifications, skills, continuity of care, and importantly, the individual care needs and preferences of the person receiving the care. This allows an organisation to deliver more flexible and personalised care, therefore driving improved outcomes for the care recipient.

The use of mobile devices provide care workers with access to important information while on the move or at a home visit. This information – and the ability to update records at the point of care – greatly increases the quality of the care that is being delivered, while ensuring more time is spent on personal interaction with the care recipient.

By utilising assistive technologies, home care organisations can help care workers remain responsive to care recipient needs. The use of intelligent sensors and alerts can help maintain the care recipient’s independence at home, while automatically alerting a care worker if an unusual activity is detected. The result of implementing such technologies is a higher standard of care for the elderly person in their own home.

In what other ways are you seeing technology improve the quality of life for the ageing and care dependent? 

Tags: aged care, assistive technology, home care, quality, residential aged care

Sophia Bolden

Communications Coordinator

Sophia Bolden is the Communications Coordinator at iCareHealth. With a background in the disability and aged care sector, she brings an understanding and passion for aged care. Sophia recognises the importance of social media and online communication in relating technology and aged care news in the most effective way possible.

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