The long-awaited final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has landed, outlining recommendations to ensure access to affordable, high-quality services centred around the needs of Australia’s older population.
It’s the start of a much-needed journey towards a new aged care model in this country – one that will allow older Australians to exercise greater choice, control and independence over the care they receive.
Among the 2,800 pages are 148 recommendations that address structural issues around funding and governance and the underlying theme of “a universal right to high quality, safe, and timely support and care”. Within that right are several imperatives for aged care providers, who must give Australians more visibility into who provides their care – and how it’s provided.
Commission emphasises the rising use of technology
A greater focus on modern technology is woven throughout the report, from grants for assistive technology and home modifications to an aged care and research fund to focus on technology’s role in the delivery of care, to systems to enable automatic reporting and more. Such an emphasis is welcome, as it finally opens a broad window for technology to be used to its full extent to support better outcomes in the industry.
I’m drawn in particular to Recommendation 68, which calls for the universal adoption of digital technology and the integration of My Health Records (MHRs) across the aged care sector. It proposes that all providers put in place a digital client management system that is interoperable with MHR. While ambitious, it’s a much-needed step forward for the continuity of care: information can flow freely, turning the MHR into a central repository for health records and supporting synchronised care for older Australians.
The proposed research innovation fund is a real opportunity to generate new ideas and innovative digital solutions that will help make a genuine difference in how we deliver care. We must lean toward this change while being careful not to overburden care providers with more administrative work. The focus should always remain on leveraging technology to maximise time with clients.
Recommendation 68 points to the real opportunity to connect all those involved in someone’s care, enabling them to collectively care for every client as well as possible, while preventing clients from having to repeat their history and needs to every new person engaged in their care.
At AlayaCare, we find this digital momentum in the aged care sector both overdue and exciting. Our platform is already built, across home and residential care, to integrate with external systems, enabling your team to skip the paper and the charts, access client forms from anywhere, and share information with everyone who needs it.
COVID’s influence on the path forward
One of the standout aspects of the Commission’s report centres around the streamlined, efficient use of data collection and reporting. As a sudden pandemic gripped the world, circumstances dictated we become more digital. This shift included the rise of virtual care visits, which we predict are here to stay, albeit not as a replacement for in-person visits, but as another option if clients prefer it.
It’s time to embrace the opportunities that technology creates today, and the ones coming soon in the form of AI and predictive analytics. When done right, software should be configurable and flexible for every client and every provider. This kind of user-centred design will ultimately enable aged care organisations to deliver better outcomes.
Clients will now be in the driver’s seat, their voices heard, empowered to design and receive the care they want, when they want it.
There’s still a lot to unpack, and we’ll see what the government decides to prioritise in the May budget. But with the right technology in place, this industry can transform for the good of those who depend on it.