Businesses in this modern age of industrialisation have little to want when it comes to innovation. It is a time full of advancement like no other. This is a particularly useful feature for organisations that house vulnerable populations in times of a global pandemic. The question to ask then is: how can technology for aged care contribute to providers’ solution to COVID-19’s many challenges?
Brightwater Care Group has the first-hand experience applying the benefits of this age to their modern problems. COVID-19 has required the organisation to contend with many conflicting requirements when it comes to visiting practices. This includes having to account for residents’ mental well-being—which visits play a crucial part in maintaining—while making sure to also execute government-mandated visitor restrictions.
Not one to compromise either priority, Brightwater took advantage of new technologies to achieve a delicate balance in their aged care service provision. Below, we recap the irreplaceable role technology has played in mitigating the acute problems the pandemic has presented to their facilities.
Providing aged care services without technology
Traditionally, aged care facilities achieve operational success through many analogue processes. This is a continuation of older practices that can be improved with the proper implementation of streamlined systems catered to efficiency and putting residents first.
As Brightwater Care Group Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Lawrence notes, “The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our visitor process have been significant for our families. Prior to the pandemic, they did not need to book visits or sign a health declaration upon arrival. With the new regulations in place, it was important we made it as easy as possible for our clients.”
Constantly evolving regulations may cripple previously sufficient systems, especially when it comes to visitor management. To keep up with these changes would mean overwhelming, even more, an already overstretched aged care staff. They would have to worry about things like ensuring fair use visitation policies that give each resident reasonable amounts of time to spend with their loved ones.
Remaining fully compliant to evolving restrictions was especially challenging to accomplish without jeopardising the rights of residents. What rights, you might ask? Visitation rights, of course. Residents’ quality of life and holistic wellbeing comprises visitors and accommodating them is a non-option.
Therefore, introducing efficient technology for aged care to improve the visitor experience will greatly lessen the stressors on aged care staff. As a not-for-profit provider for over 750 residents, Brightwater Care Group decided to implement a customised visitor management solution to facilitate smooth operation in each of their unique facilities.
Ms Lawrence says, “Technology solutions have always been a big part of our business, but the pandemic has certainly accelerated innovation. We are continually looking to improve our experiences through innovation.”
The importance of accommodating aged care facility visitors
Accommodating visitors is not just a luxury provision of aged care facilities—it is a necessity. Many resources including the Royal Commission COVID-19 special report elucidate the cruciality of visitors to residents’ holistic wellbeing, as mentioned previously. Especially in times when residents become extra vulnerable, visitors are the least of anyone’s concerns, right? Wrong. This factor of the aged care experience, when less prioritised, is compromised at the expense of residents’ mental health.
Aged care facilities can hardly feel like home if residents’ loved ones are never allowed to visit. However, visitor restrictions arising because of COVID-19 are indeed in place for legitimate safety and health concerns. In such situations, aged care providers cannot let operational limitations hinder them from doing all they can to mitigate stringent visitor regulations.
That is where technology for aged care comes in.
Customised technology for aged care
One of the biggest challenges of handling visitor management in aged care facilities is remaining 100% compliant with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. The delicate nature of COVID-19 necessitates the updating of standards and regulations as the pandemic evolves. The best way to handle that is a customised solution that has aged care’s needs in mind, acutely and attentively.
Such a technological solution features easy-to-use booking systems and advanced check-in functionalities, streamlining the visitor sign-in process and managing crowds at entrances. And here’s the kicker. Visitor sentiment tracking can give providers invaluable insights into the visitor experience of their residents’ loved ones. This goes above and beyond to ensure both physical safety and emotional satisfaction for all.
What technology offers is automation and customisation. Providers automatically receive analysis reports and summaries of collected feedback from new-age visitor management systems like Zipline. Managers are able to keep close track of how each of their unique facilities is performing. This way, tech does the analysis for these team leaders and measures both the quantity and quality of visits. They can also focus on improving the aged care experience with more concrete and specific data in hand.
Functioning efficiently makes all the difference during a pandemic. Customised technology for aged care can help ensure top-notch visitor management and establish the best processes that will enable each facility to function at maximum capacity.
Brightwater felt this difference almost immediately after Zipline was installed across its 21 sites in just two weeks. Ms Lawrence states, “The overall ease of implementation in such a short space of time has been better than we could have expected. The tablets we use were literally plug-in-and-go when they were delivered. This makes the whole process easier and more secure for visitors.”
How technology targeted every pain brought about by COVID-19
Social distancing efforts due to the coronavirus undoubtedly complicated the visitor management processes that Brightwater previously relied on. In such a delicate health crisis, contact tracing became absolutely essential to keeping health standards at an acceptable level. Adopting a technology-driven solution, then, would be the only sensible next step.
By digitising facilities’ visitor management systems, both providers and their visitors found it much easier to comply with national and state regulations. Why? Because of the assurance that technology offers in handling the overwhelming changes that crop up as the COVID situation evolves.
Zipline in Brightwater’s facilities, for instance, automated the tracking of the stream of visitors in each section of a facility. Visitors could confidently enter without flouting any rules by entering a particular floor or area. The rules would have already been accounted for when they first made their booking and signed in to the facility. It provides a peace of mind quite irreplaceable during stressful times, as Ms Lawrence also notes:
“Implementing Zipline not only improved the experience for our clients and staff. It also provided an extra level of assurance in ensuring visitors read and respond to their obligations before coming on-site.”
While updating sign-in processes would have had to be manual before the implementation of technology for aged care, Zipline automatically updates their software whenever regulations change because of COVID outbreaks or in light of other situations. Brightwater has been able to handle every visitation curveball thrown at them. This is all thanks to the convenience of technology’s applications in these unprecedented times.
At the end of the day, Brightwater knows its residents are at the heart of its business. Residents’ continued health and contentment are, after all, the driving factors to all operations. Technology for aged care offers a solution that thinks not just of residents, but also their closest and dearest friends and loved ones.
With a digitised, customised visitor management system, Brightwater had access to insights on visitor satisfaction like never before. They have since achieved a rating of 8.2 out of 10 for visitor experience.
Ms Lawrence speaks to the welcome change that the automated solution has offered. “Zipline has had a big impact on our families and friends visiting their loved ones in our care. Most of our families have been really happy to adopt the change as they are aware of why we are having to register visitors now and know it is a really positive way to ensure their loved ones are protected.”
About the author
Other than for work, Marielle loves writing for fun (fantasy fiction is her not-so-secret mistress). She is also an intense Broadway and Disney geek and sometimes sings professionally.