Wiser Technology Advice Blog
- TECHNOLOGY FOR AGED CARE
Technology for Aged Care
The aged care industry faces many challenges which may be overcome by smart use of technology. There are fantastic opportunities for technology to provide connections and support in our modern world. But the aged care industry is risk averse, fears change and is reluctant to embrace technology.
ITAC conference, Sydney, July 2022
I attended the ITAC 2022 conference in Sydney in July, with inspirational keynote speakers, an awards dinner which celebrated success and a large expo of vendors of technology for the aged care industry. It’s been four years since I last attended an ITAC conference in 2018 and it was pleasing to see the depth and breadth of technology that’s available to the aged care industry.
A list of all the vendors who were at the ITAC expo is included at the end of this blog post, please get in touch with me if you want to learn more about my opinion of these vendors. But I didn’t have enough time to visit each and every expo stand, even though spent a lot of time talking to vendors.
A video of aspirational use of smart technology was aired at the ITAC conference, demonstrating the fantastic opportunities to use technology to support best practice and better lives for the elderly. Sadly though, this video was first shown 17 years ago, and nothing much has changed in the aged care industry’s use of technology since then.
The aged care industry, along with all of the health care industry, are rightfully conservative and risk averse. There has been constant pressure from poor publicity about the quality of care that’s provided to aged care residents, which tends to make organisations cautious about introducing new technology.
Adding to this fear of change is the long tradition of poorly executed technology projects. In my experience these failures are caused by a combination of non-technical factors, such as
- new technology not fitting with a broader strategic plan,
- poor understanding of stakeholder needs,
- poor communication about the changes, and
- corners being cut in providing training to workers expected to use the new technology.
The aged care industry has a high proportion of its workforce with low levels of technology literacy, which makes training workers to use new technology particularly challenging. There is also the added complication of a high proportion of the workforce in the aged care industry having English as a second language.
There is an overwhelming amount of choice available when it comes to selecting new technology to implement, so organisations can easily get stuck in analysis paralysis and nothing changes.
Organisations which have a long history of providing care will have a range of systems and technologies already in place. Even if they acknowledge that changes are needed, it can feel overwhelming, having to manage the complexities of keeping the lights on while making changes and potentially replacing old systems with new software. One of my clients, who is currently planning a digital transformation roadmap, uses a very apt analogy of the game Kerplunk to describe the complexities of managing dependencies. If you pull the wrong straw, all the marbles will drop and there could be a catastrophic failure!
After working the in the information technology industry for over 30 years I’ve learnt that the most difficult aspect of any technology project is bringing people along the journey. It’s easy to believe that introducing new technologies will solve the problems of an organisation, but you must ensure that new technology works well for your workers and supports what they do.
Aged care organisations have no choice but to embrace change and must make a leap of faith to start on the journey. If managed well, change can be a positive experience that helps the organisation thrive and survive through difficult times.
It's not always necessary to change the technology systems that are already in place. Data from existing systems can be used to make sensible decisions about how the organisation operates, without having to change the way workers use the systems.
ITAC keynote speaker Professor Johanna Westbrook, Macquarie University, Centre of Health and Safety Research, Australian Institute of Health Innovation spoke about ‘nudge interventions’, using existing systems to provide low-cost change with minimal training. For example, an alert that goes to a GP or family member if an aged care resident has been on the same medication for more than three months will nudge people to review whether the medication is still required.
If broader change is needed, the non-technical aspects of the technology project must be well managed. The return on investment in new technology is reduced when broader aspects of the change are not understood, and the effort put into implementing the technology can go wasted. ITAC keynote speaker Lysette Mavridis from G5 Strategic, an aged care advisory business, spoke about the need for a design led approach to ensure that introduction of new technology is managed smoothly. If the goal is to enhance the experience for customers and workers, then consideration needs to be given to how you design that experience. A design led approach will align an organisation’s digital strategy, workforce strategy, business model, systems architecture and work practices.
Each group of stakeholders in a technology project will have their own views on what’s in it for them, and change must be considered from many different points of view. ITAC keynote speaker Professor Nick Goodwin, Director of Central Coast Research Institute, University of Newcastle talked about the need for integrated systems, for patients, carers, health care professionals (doctors, pharmacists and specialists), aged care organisations and government bodies. He provided some good suggestions for overcoming the barriers to adopting new technology:
- Keep it simple for patients and carers to use, and for professionals to adopt.
- Tailor the service to the specific needs of the end user, consider how they might best use and accept new technology.
- Enhance human contact by better connecting patients to family, friends and care professionals – users must feel safe, secure and empowered.
- Embed a technology infrastructure to act as the bedrock of better care through integrated information systems.
- Build relationships and networks to influence behaviours, build alliances, and overcome the significant mismatch of motives that exist between each stakeholder group – patients, carers, professionals, organisations and government bodies.
Exciting start-up innovations
The most exciting innovations I saw at the ITAC conference were by the entrepreneurial start-up vendors.
Inspired by poor service he’d received from NDIS care providers, Huy Nguyen founded a company called Enabler Interactive.
The aged care industry has a high proportion of its workforce with low levels of technology literacy, which makes training people to use new technology particularly challenging. There is also the added complication of a high proportion of the workforce in the aged care industry having English as a second language.
The Enabler Interactive product is a scenario based training app, with avatars acting out scenes where the user has optional responses. This is a great alternative to traditional PowerPoint slide e-learning, where it’s too easy to skip over slides. I spent some time at their expo stand, and found that working through the training scenarios feels like playing a game.
Interactive prototype robot
Andromeda, founded by Grace Brown, are developing prototype robot called Abi. It uses vision recognition to identify person, remembering previous conversations to provide an interactive experience and be a companion in aged care residential facilities.
The prototype shows all its inner workings, if this can be developed with a body and a friendly, cartoon-like face it will be an excellent step up from the currently available robot dogs and cats.
They’ve been experimenting with data and machine learning algorithms in Amazon Web Services to develop this prototype. There are challenges with training robots to use natural language, a lot of input is required for training data and it’s tempting to leave the robot to its own devices watching television shows. But one of Grace’s friends had a bad experience training a robot's natural language AI algorithm. He left it unsupervised to watch Netflix shows, but then found the robot started using aggressive language. This was because of bad training data – the Netflix algorithm had decided it was interested in crime dramas so that's all it had been watching. The robot had learnt that an aggressive style of language was normal. Maybe it would have started singing its responses to everyone if it had watched the Disney channel!
Gretel Analytics was founded by Georgie Armstrong to monitor and map all interactions of people in a residential care facility. This purpose of this system is to provide better safety and security of residents, who are vulnerable to abuse. Monitoring all interactions ensures that those who no longer have a voice of their own are protected from abuse from carers and other residents. All people at the care facility and all interactions are monitored, including residents, nurses and visitors.
The system uses edge computing artificial intelligence, with servers hosted on-site in the residential care facilities to analyse security camera video footage. This means that sensitive footage is never taken offsite and never seen by people. Only the results of the analysed data are sent to cloud system, to trigger alerts and case notes.
Urgent alerts are sent when the system detects problems, for example when a resident has a fall, when at risk or aggressive residents interact with vulnerable residents, and when there is unauthorised entry to a vulnerable person’s room.
Do you want to introduce new technology into your aged care organisation but feel overwhelmed by the choices available and don’t know where to start? With over 30 years’ experience in the information technology industry, I can see through the vendor hype to the reality of what’s feasible for you. My role is to help you get the solutions you need, rather than spending money on new technology that’s not right for you.
If you’d like to talk further about anything I’ve written about, get in contact with me today, I’m always happy to meet and have a chat over a coffee – in person or online, whatever you’re more comfortable with.
Conference expo vendors
Here’s a list of vendors who had stalls at the ITAC conference. As you can see there were way too many to talk to each one personally!
ITAC brochure: Nurse call, access control and IP CCTV solutions.
Scott Shaw, Director of Sales
0449 109 677
Brochure: ‘As a leading provider of a revolutionary end-to-end software solution, we empower the residential, home and disability sectors in Australia and New Zealand to deliver the highest quality care and achieve better outcomes for their businesses.’
Brochure: ‘Fully automated accounts payable and fraud detection software. Streamline, protect and simplify your accounts payable functions with features built for aged and community care organisations. Seamless integrates with Xero, MYOB, SharePoint and iManage platforms.’
Brochure: ‘The next generation of integrated nurse call solutions for the healthcare industry.’
Sell hardwired and wi fi security devices, nurse call buttons, duress alarms and software to integrate devices through IoT.
Andromeda - Abi robot (start-up)
Abi robot prototype uses vision recognition to identify person, remembers conversations, companion to aged care homes, data and machine learning algorithms in AWS.
Aimee French, Sales and Marketing Coordinator
0404 608 913 / (08) 9472 0444
ITAC program description: clinical management system for aged care, encompasses clinical documentation, reporting, medication management, family communication and point of care data entry.
Brochure: ‘A new app streamlining RN communication with families. Redefining communication in aged care.’
Brenna is a messaging app which allows Registered Nurses to send messages to family members rather that waste time trying to call them on the phone. This is better for family members, who feel a rush of panic when a residential care home calls them.
ITAC program description: web based application for onboarding care recipients.
ITAC program description: software provider, fully integrated and cloud hosted billing, payroll, rostering, purchasing, GL and government reporting suite of applications.
ITAC program description: falls detection for residential aged care, system connects into existing nurse call systems.
ITAC program description: sector-specific feedback, complaints and analytics tool for ageing and disability sector.
Checked In Care
ITAC program description: care experience app, connected digital solution. Employees have direct access to everything they need in the app. Content dynamically configured based on who the user is and type of care they’re receiving or delivering.
ITAC program description: software collects client data and supports case management, rostering, resources, award interpretation, budgeting and financial tracking.
ITAC program description: simple and intuitive catering app for aged care homes. Create menus, take orders on the go, prep and fulfil meals.
Enabler Interactive (start-up)
Huy Nguyen, CEO and Founder
0402 207 775
Brochure: ‘Support worker training and assessment. Intuitive and easy to use serious games technology which enhances motivation of participants to engage in complex or boring tasks.’
ITAC program description: connects aged care, hospitals, GPs, specialists, allied health, radiology, pathology, health apps and more.
Suite of tools. Eziplan to manage rostering, invoice and payroll data, claim portal extracts exports, incident reporting and investigation. Ezi pay payroll and workforce management. Monty client portal, external comms, newsletters, community care appointments. Time staff clock in for resi care. Predictive AI for health eg falls risk being developed.
Field Solutions Group
ITAC program description: Telecommunications carrier, connectivity and IT solutions.
ITAC program description: Build and deliver software as a service, customer experience (CV, CRM) and employee experience (ITSM, HRSM).
Gretel analytics (start-up)
Georgie Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer
0428 763 798
brochure: ‘Gretel provides a data driven, smart buildings approach to care, powering better clinical outcomes and best quality of life for consumers.’
Gretel Analytics monitors and maps all interactions of people in a residential care facility, providing better safety and security for residents.
ITAC program description: ‘Health Metrics solution eCAse supports the functions of residential aged care, disability, home care, retirement villages and primary health care for customers of any size.’
ITAC program description: source of aged care content and daily news. Readership of aged care professionals, Australian seniors and families. Fresh content on a daily basis across all forms of media.
Provider of nurse call and patient engagement systems in hospitals, aged care facilities and retirement homes.
Home Care HQ (start-up)
Anna Millicer, Founder
0468 381 220
ITAC program description: improve communication and engagement with consumers via email and digital platforms. Do the research and content development, produce 12 high-quality pages every month.
Aged care accounting system.
Brochure list of features: Time & Attendance, Roster, Payroll, Human Resources, Training Management, CDC & CHSP Home Care, ACFI automated billing, DAP/RAD automation, claim reconciliation, orders and suppliers, fixed assets, general ledger, cash management, analysis and reporting.
ITAC program description: value-added IT distributor, working with Reseller Partners, driving business opportunities and exceeding revenue expectations.
Brochure: ‘InterRAI suite of instruments is based on a common language. Using common measures enables clinicians and providers in different care settings to improve continuity of care, as well as to integrate care and support for each individual.’
LAS / CareTech / RTM Cloud
Ange Ryan, National Sales Manager
0412 547 350
ITAC program description: CareTech – manufacturer of Truly IP nurse call system. LAS – software development, systems integration. RTM Cloud – management of facilities, contractors.
Brochure: ‘With LeeCare you can connect people, care & business, ensure better care outcomes, manage seamless care journeys and improve financial health. P6MyCarePlan is the LeeCare app providing clients, residents and families with access to preferences, goals, personal calendars, alerts and feedback.’
Privately owned company aged care only includes customer portal.
Lexmark solutions, from corporate operations through to point of care, are designed to focus on providing care to people, not printers.
Ben Hough, Head of Growth
0419 661 594
Care management platform developed by a care provider and spun out to separate company. Blackbox system, not on Microsoft or Salesforce platform.
- Home Care Package finance solution (Home Care Package customer account management, track HCP subsidies and fees)
- Planning and rostering
- Collaboration (internal staff collaboration)
- Remote care monitoring
- Reporting and quality (client reports, feedback reporting)
- Business support (setup through ongoing support)
Manad Plus (Management Advantage)
ITAC program description: aged care solution with suite of modules: client administration, clinical management, quality, risk, compliance, communication, workforce and finance.
ITAC program description: Proxima is the seniors smartwatch arm of Moochies , a smartwatch company aimed at kids.
ITAC program description: consulting services and bespoke software solutions.
Person Centred Software
ITAC brochure: Fully mobile clinical documentation system. Staff able to evidence average of 50 care notes per resident per day, leading to data driven decision making.
ITAC program description: process automation and business optimisation, specialising in aged care, healthcare, disability care and higher education sectors.
ITAC program description: nurse call, resident safety monitoring, resident entertainment, RTLS, project management, installation and service.
ITAC program description: ‘Sandwai is a single ecosystem for all your home and disability care needs. Offering comprehensive client management and schedule, a mobile worker app and client and family app, with seamless and real-time flow of information between all three apps.’
ITAC program description: nurse call systems in healthcare and aged care. Nurse AI system supports flexibility and is uniquely portable.
ITAC program description: Skedulo provides mobile workforce management and has a dedicated healthcare product.
SilVR Adventures (start-up)
Virtual Reality (VR) solution, which I did not try, previous experience of VR was it gave me motion sickness.
ITAC program description: enrich quality of life with meaningful experiences through virtual reality, help overcome social isolation and loneliness.
Brochure: ‘SaaS ERP for aged, home and disability providers.’
ERP, financial and asset management. Community, government, disability and aged care sectors. Various API interfaces including MuleSoft.
ITAC program description: feedback and complaints system designed by aged care nurses. Mobile app, the web and inhouse kiosk. Data mapped against quality standards governance to optimise compliance.
Brochure: ‘Telstra Health CareKeeper. Resident care interactions in the palm of your hand. CareKeeper app enables care staff to be clear on their list of tasks and allows them to document by the resident’s side, providing more opportunity for a personalised connection.’
For residential aged & disability care. Clinical and medication management. Tight integrating with Technology One.
Brochure: ‘Future proof your nurse call system. Vitalcare’s new Felix wired, wireless and hubrid nurse call platform provides an open, scalable and modular solution that integrates with other systems across any hospital or aged care facility.’
ITAC program description: medication management solutions for aged care and pharmacies. MedCare is end-to-end electronic medication compliance solution, connecting aged care teams.
Your Link provides basic technology training, how to turn devices on, to help elderly residents and carers with low technology literacy come to grips with using technology.