By Jose A Perez, Chief Information Officer, Hammondcare
Health and aged care are among the most dynamic sectors on the planet, partly fuelled by a rapidly aging population—a triumph of our health systems—but bringing with it increased and more complex needs for older people, at the same time, as funding bases are under enormous pressure. It is no wonder, in this context, that finding technology solutions that contribute to improvements in the care and quality of life for older people are being proactively engaged by thought-leaders such as HammondCare in Australia.
HammondCare is one of Australia’s leading health and aged care providers, with a particular focus on dementia care and palliative care, and its dementia environmental design and model of care is seen as a benchmark internationally. But with a challenging policy, regulatory, and financial setting, HammondCare is not standing still and is actively developing new technological responses that can further enhance the effectiveness of its processes and, most importantly, its responsiveness to people’s care needs and expectations.
Analytics is a technology buzzword but has real substance as HammondCare seeks to be prudent with its resources and effective in its care delivery. While many people will be familiar with the common ‘nurse call’ button seen in hospitals and other care environments, few would be aware of the responsive analytics this technology can now deliver. HammondCare has developed a visualisation platform which allows its residential care managers to see activity levels, patterns, outliers, and responsiveness to the nurse call system across more than 21 care homes in 11 locations with nearly 2000 residents and about 1600 staff.
At a glance, and without needing to negotiate complicated spreadsheets, managers can analyze this information across all of residential care, across a home, within a cottage, down to an individual room or alert type. And, this is not just for when a resident pushes the nurse call button but includes the full integration of alerts which are provided for residents depending on their care profile—bed, floor and door monitors, for example. It means response times to calls and alerts can be seen and where there are delays or other issues, these can be analyzed quickly and responsive solutions can be introduced as needed.
The e-learning hub not only provides self-paced training anywhere and at anytime but also maintains the training records of staff, which is vital for quality indicators and also to ensure no staff member slips through the gaps
The result is that without intruding on the privacy or amenity of residents, HammondCare is better able to develop the best staffing strategies, minimize risks for residents (such as falls), and deliver responsive care, all while maximizing use of resources. As this data collation and analysis evolves, it is likely that it will have a predictive element as well, allowing further enhancements to prudent allocation of resources to ensure continued high-quality care delivery.
Learning Anywhere, Anytime
Another major need in the health and aged care context is for well-trained staff who can continue their learning journey easily to ensure they are well-equipped to provide quality care to residents, clients, and patients.
In the past 25 years, HammondCare has grown from one location in Sydney to 60 locations across the nation, with staff increasing from 200 to over 4000 and care delivery from 200 residents to more than 25,000 people in aged care homes, hospitals, and in the community. Clearly, the methods that were used to provide ongoing training for staff that worked even five years ago will no longer work and so, HammondCare has invested in a state-of-the-art e-learning hub which is currently being rolled out across the organization. Not only is it vital that staff receive the training they need, but that organizations like HammondCare have a clear record of this training to firstly meet our own internal risk, quality, and safety objectives but also to satisfy external reporting requirements.
The e-learning hub not only provides self-paced training anywhere and at anytime but also maintains the training records of staff, which is vital for quality indicators and also to ensure no staff member slips through the gaps. Alongside this, many clinical staff need to complete certain ongoing training requirements for the purposes of accreditation and all of this can be managed, delivered, and recorded through the e-learning hub.
HammondCare has a strong commitment to workplace training and mentoring—this is the hands on, on the job, person to person training which will continue to be a feature of our approach to quality. But behind this, the e-learning hub allows staff at all levels to develop the necessary theoretical base and qualifications to enrich their care delivery. The e-learning hub is delivered as a component of the HammondCare intranet and can be accessed on computer or mobile, which suits a diverse workforce. It includes onboarding courses which vary depending on whether the staff is employed at head office, in aged care, or in a health or hospital service.
These two examples of innovation in ‘healthcare tech’ may not be the most ‘sexy’, but they are absolutely essential to ensuring robust systems for delivering quality of care for vulnerable people, which is what we exist to do. We could talk about our adoption of teams to exponentially improve multisite, multinational communications, or the use of virtual reality to introduce people to the benefits of evidence-based dementia design, or how we are collecting big data to improve the delivery of dementia care internationally, but these innovations may need to wait for another article.