Aged Care Sector Embracing Technology
How Australia’s aged care sector can adopt new
facilities management solutions to improve industry standards
Under the microscope of the ongoing Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, there has been immense scrutiny placed on this billion-dollar industry for countless years. Heightened in 2020 as a result of the continuing pandemic, it is fair to say that the current spotlight on Australia’s aged care sector is more significant than ever before.
Taking a deep dive into the industry on a granular level, the commission is overseeing a broad spectrum of issues, of which, facilities management will unquestionably become a hot topic for the commissioners and their counsel.
Like anything, facilities management has continued to evolve with cloud-based software now offering the best solutions when it comes to automating processes, providing clarity, and simplifying the operations of buildings such as aged care homes.
By embracing cloud facilities management technology, many aged care operators can significantly improve their businesses and operational efficiencies in a short period of time.
What has the Royal Commission uncovered to date?
Receiving more than 10,000 public submissions since the Royal Commission began in 2018, each has highlighted a multitude of concerns surrounding aged care in Australia, from staffing issues and unmet resident needs, to medication and fall prevention management.
Evidenced in the aggregation of submissions, it has uncovered a soaring figure concerning non-compliances in the country’s aged care services, up from 10.9 per cent in 2018/19 to 22.8 per cent in 2019/20.
Paling in comparison to global standards, the Royal Commission released a statement in August revealing that Australia is “far behind in monitoring the aged care quality in comparison to leading countries such as Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and the USA.”
While more recently, The University of Queensland completed research on behalf of the Royal Commission, estimating “it would cost around $621 million per year to improve all homes to the best quality level measured in Australia’s current aged care system.”
Aged care and COVID-19
With years of growing concerns nationwide, in the past 10 months alone it seems that almost daily our newspapers or nightly TV news bulletins share unnerving stories affecting some of our nation’s most vulnerable because of poor regulation.
Emerging as the epicentre for countless COVID-19 outbreaks – now forming part of the Royal Commission’s investigation – the industry’s issues have become especially pertinent due to the high proportion of virus-related deaths in Aussies over 70.
What should happen?
More often than not, the issues faced are regulatory failures beyond the individual; overworked and underpaid, carers are struggling with disproportionate staff to resident ratios.
With an aging population, it seems more vital than ever that operators implement a mandatory and robust technology-led management plan – overseen by the Federal Government regulator – as a simple first step in the system’s much-needed overhaul.
How can cloud-based facilities management assist aged care staff?
With the uptake of cloud technology, aged care staff will experience a vast improvement in compliance and governance. Maintenance schedules, communications and processes would be streamlined, allowing staff to liaise directly with the numerous contractors who enter a facility on a day-to-day basis.
A mandatory program would ensure transparency over the compliance of all contractors via thorough checks – providing details on who entered the facility and at what time, plus their compulsory qualifications or compliance – reducing the hours spent sourcing and liaising with contractors.
Facilities management cloud-based systems would also ensure a chain of custody to replace many unrefined, paper-based systems often untraceable and which are currently risking breaches in the safety of residents.
Further, staff and site managers would have full visibility over asset management and maintenance schedules with real-time workforce management and comprehensive system triggers for planned works.
Cloud-based systems with customisable dashboards and dynamic analytics would also allow for extensive real-time reporting for stakeholders, offering a unique level of transparency and predictive analysis for true operational optimisation.
Most importantly, a mandatory facilities management program can provide an opportunity to empower elderly residents, offering a sense of independence which is paramount when moving into an aged care facility.
With many software platforms offering dashboards for each individual room, this accessibility would allow residents or their families to report on maintenance issues without these requests becoming lost in a backlogged paper-based system. Similarly, residents would be able to arrange their own appointments with outside contractors – everything from a physiotherapist, nail technician or even dry cleaning!
While the sector’s future rests on more than just facilities management, this year alone has proven Australia’s often rudimentary approach to aged care. So, as we await the Royal Commission’s findings and recommendations, one solution is crystal clear: modern technology can enhance operational efficiencies, improve compliance and governance and offer dynamic analytics and reporting for key stakeholders.
Interested to hear more about Urbanise and our innovative cloud solutions? Reach out to the team today to see how Urbanise Facilities can enhance your business processes today: Book a Demo
Ashley Austin, Global Customer Development Director for Urbanise