From February next year, government funding for the Aged and Community Care sector is set to change, with consumers receiving funds directly. This will give consumers and their families greater flexibility to choose which providers will deliver their services.
As a result, community care service providers are increasingly looking to technology to improve operational efficiency, keep workers and clients safe, as well as boost the quality of services they can offer.
By adopting a range of remote scheduling and monitoring technologies, care workers are making considerable improvements in productivity, and winning back time to focus on more meaningful and rewarding interactions with clients.
“For carers, nothing matters more than the time they spend with their clients,” says Agnes Sheehan, director of Enterprise Mobility for Telstra, “Carers are committed to outcomes, to helping their clients to be independent and achieve the very best quality of life.”
Carers are committed to outcomes, to helping their clients to be independent and achieve the very best quality of life.– Agnes Sheehan, director of Enterprise Mobility, Telstra.
Mobility streamlines care
One notable aspect of in-home care, which is being effectively streamlined through technological solutions, is client documentation. By adopting a mobile interface to automate processes, community carers no longer need to lug armloads of files from house to house on their daily visits.
“Carers used to come back to base with armfuls of files for data entry with decisions relating to ongoing management of client care being addressed long after the home visit,” says Tanya Felton, national general manager for Health Industry Development at Telstra. “Mobile technology is changing that.”
This was the case for McLean Care, who have equipped care workers with tablets to record client interactions. McLean Care estimates that this saves approximately 3,500 man-hours a year, which can be used to focus on providing quality care.
McLean Care provides services across a 100,000 km radius in the New England region and North Western NSW, thus the ability to enter client information straight onto mobile devices makes the documentation process quicker, easier and more accurate.
Mobile solutions have potential to reduce the time care workers spend on the road, as a connected mobile device decreases the need to visit a central office to pick up work schedules, client files or even undertake training. The ability to capture images and information on the spot, and make decisions relating to care faster, translates to improved care and outcomes for the consumer.
Changes to job schedules can also be updated in near real time, reducing frustrations and enabling workers to make the most of their time with each client.
More importantly still, streamlining data entry leads to a significant reduction in the time carers spend on tedious and repetitive tasks, boosting job satisfaction and employee engagement.
More time where it’s needed
While the benefits to personal job satisfaction and productivity enhancement are manifest, the macro advantages of mobile technology adoption will have a significant impact on the capacity the community care sector has to deal with some looming demographic challenges.
The community care sector, and the healthcare sector more broadly, faces the dual challenge of an aging workforce on the one hand, and an increased demand for the sector’s services, on the other.
This means that technological solutions, which boost both the productivity of workers and their job satisfaction, are vitally important to the capacity the sector will have to continue to deliver the best possible home-based care.
Moreover the demographic imperative to adopt productivity-enhancing technology will make the sector an important test case for other industries as they respond to similar demographic challenges.