Australian aged care facilities turn to digital transformation

Implementation will help aged care providers meet digital expectations.

Not-for-profit welfare company Wintringham, home and community care provider for the Finnish community Finncare and Victoria-based aged care organisation MannaCare have turned to Epicor Software Corporation to further their digital transformation and meet the expectations of the digital age.

The software implementations will help the three organisations achieve greater visibility, productivity, agility and traceability – from organisation-wide service management all the way to rostering – helping them meet the distinct needs of their residents and clients, staff, and external stakeholders.

A key element for all three organisations is the rostering function, which will help them to meet the specific demands of aged and community care institutions. The past months have exemplified the unique nature and challenges of mobile and remote workforces.

The rostering solution is similar to service management, allowing providers to better manage their human resources and community services. The organisations will be able to track, schedule and allocate staff in real time, to better serve their clients’ needs.

Wintringham is a Victoria-based not-for-profit organisation providing residential aged care, outreach, NDIS, in-home care, housing support services and social housing for people aged 50-plus, many of whom have experienced or are vulnerable to homelessness. Wintringham turned to Epicor to leverage smart technology to improve efficiency across its offerings and better serve the community.

Queensland not-for-profit Finncare provides residential aged care, retirement living as well as home and community care for older people from the Australian Finnish and Scandinavian communities, and the wider Australian community.

Finncare has been a long-standing Epicor Cloud customer, having used Epicor’s Senior Living Solution in its residential aged care offering for the last seven years. The organisation is now looking to transform its home care business with the Epicor Community Care and Rostering Solution, to improve operational efficiencies, free up staff to allow them to focus on care planning and delivery and provide an improved experience for all clients.

MannaCare is a not-for-profit aged care and NDIS provider serving older people living in the City of Manningham and surrounds in Victoria. Their services span across permanent residential and respite care, a full range of Commonwealth Home Support Programmes (CHSP), Home Care Packages and NDIS, said Vanessa May general manager of corporate services at MannaCare.

“Our long-term strategy is to move toward a fully integrated solution across all our service areas to provide a streamlined and efficient flow of processes and information throughout the organisation,” she said. “The implementation of the Epicor Community Care module is the next step on that journey, adding to our existing Epicor SLS residential and financials solution.”

May noted the new Community Care module will give the aged care facility, greater visibility and operational control across all our programs, timely management and financial reporting, more effective workforce management, and improved client experience.

“Our ultimate goal is always to provide the end consumer with the excellent level of service they want and deserve,” she noted.

Epicor will provide Wintringham, Finncare and MannaCare with a comprehensive product to manage financials, client records, purchasing, rostering and document management to name but a few.

The integrated business software solution will in particular help productivity through a wide range of mobility and collaboration features that are indispensable in today’s digital age.

The simplicity and responsiveness as well as optional cloud/on-premise deployment option means each aged-care segment will be able to tailor the solution to its own needs and ensure an ease of use for all users.

COVID-19 has brought on significant challenges for all Australian organisations, but the aged care industry in particular. For many providers, the benefits of a robust, integrated technology platform that helps alleviate the challenges of the sector and improve administration, management and financial tasks has never been more apparent. Building business efficiencies and agility are crucial for these organisations, which are providing essential services during these challenging times.

Aged and community care organisations want to give all their attention to their residents and clients. Having the right technology empowers them to do just that, and not worry about the back end, having to manually handle processes that could easily be streamlined and optimised through technology.

Recently Epicor called on the Australian Government to consider improvements to digital infrastructures, digital skillsets of the aged care workforce, and interoperability between aged care providers, health care providers and the Australian Government.

These considerations come after seeing a range of critical technology-based recommendations from the upcoming report via the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety final report.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established to report on the quality of aged care services and whether those services are meeting the needs of the older Australian community. This includes care for older people living at home, people living with dementia, and people living in residential aged care including younger people with disabilities.

Greg O’Loan regional vice president ANZ at said after the final submission findings, when it comes to utilising technology adoption must be made quickly to ensure faster improvements, better outcomes, and progressive change to improve quality of care and interoperability in the aged care system.

“The technology components in any organisation are critical to the way a business can operate effectively and efficiently to deliver their services,” he said. “In the context of the aged care sector, the importance of ICT capability is magnified even further, as the day-to-day wellbeing of older clients is directly dependent on these systems.”

O’Lan noted there’s an abundance of tools within the current ICT ecosystem contributing to the complexity and inefficiency of service delivery.

“Many of these systems are predominantly focussed on financial aspects of providing care and provide little value to care giving services,” he said. “Another contributing factor to this is that many of these systems do not interoperate and share information easily, if at all. The flow of effect leads to duplication of effort and ultimately impacts the quality of care provided.”

There are now tech savvy home care providers that are implementing smart technology in the homes of aged care clients to help in the provision of care, O’Lan said.

“These kinds of implementations are already happening to great effect as they have provided user-friendly technology as well as training and support to clients to use the technology,” he noted. “This kind of technology will become increasingly important as the number of home care recipients grows in the next 10-20 years — but we must be at the head of this curve.”

Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations:

New common aged care program

Implement by 2024 a new common aged care program that combines all existing resident, respite and home care programs. This mandates a single assessment framework and also the ability for a care recipient to enjoy benefits for different categories of care simultaneously. Providers would benefit from a solution that provides a single client record and able to support operations and funding for all categories of aged care.

Data governance and minimum data set 

Set up and implement by July 2023 a minimum data set that allows easier data sharing, integration and interoperability. Software solutions that are able to integrate through open-source APIs would be needed. ICT systems would also need to be able to provide reporting for quality indicators, prudential requirements, and other reporting requirements.

Universal adoption of digital technology and My Health Record 

Recommend mandating the digital care management (including medication management) system, meeting the standards of ADHA’s My Health record. All providers would need to be able to update and share health data though my Health record for all clients who have opted in.

More stringent and continuous disclosure requirements

Recommend continuous disclosure needs for events that could affect financial viability and capacity to care for any provider. Reporting of serious incidents would also be needed. Integrated financial and Business Intelligence tools that can integrate with and report data from disparate systems would enable providers to meet this requirement more efficiently.

Provider performance and quality ratings 

Providers should be graded against industry standards and quality standards. Impacting on providers’ business and occupancy, managers would need regular reports on these indicators to be able to take corrective actions.

Aged care workforce and minimum staff time for residential care 

Propose mandating minimum qualifications and training standards for staff working in aged care and also define minimum staff time by care type per resident in care. Providers would need to implement HR systems that would be able to record appropriate staff and qualifications details while also providing a rostering system to schedule the appropriate amount of care for each carer category for each resident in their homes. Periodic reporting of staff hours by care type would also be needed.

Funding in the new aged care system 

Recommend an amended or new funding model that better allows aged care providers to meet the care needs of both people in residential care as well as those in home care. Software providers would need to design and implement the new funding model once finalised.





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