Commissioned by KPMG and Church Resources, the study highlighted gaps in access to technology between aged care and the wider community, calling for an infrastructure injection to the ballooning industry.
KPMG’s Digital Business Partner, Malcolm Alder, says the findings demonstrate that technology and IT infrastructure have the ability to revolutionise the lives of residents, staff and families in aged care – particularly in regional areas.
“New technology allows us to help people in ways we never imagined even ten years ago. It is essential that as a nation we address the lack of technology infrastructure in place at aged care facilities and improve planning for future facilities.
“In an era when broadband and related technologies have revolutionised how we do so many things – work, entertainment, shopping and mobile communications, this report demonstrates that the time has come for the aged care sector to catch-up,” says Mr Alder.
Affordable broadband access, creative funding, improved financial models and collaboration between industry, government and the aged care sector are considered essential to implementing change. The report found some improvements in technological advancements at newer facilities, but stretched resources and limited IT expertise were barriers.
Church Resources, ConnectCare Program Manager, Con Koulouris , says aged care providers are continually under pressure to provide diverse care services for today’s ageing population, let alone the expectations of baby boomers in the years ahead.
“We believe making relevant technology more accessible, affordable and easy to use will be a catalyst for change and help meet the aged care needs of senior Australians.
“By adopting technological advances, the sector can provide a tangible and substantial boost to the level of productivity and efficiency, from the way that meals are prepared to the way clinical care is delivered to residents – in both a medical and lifestyle sense,” commented Mr Koulouris.
Church Resources is running a pilot of its ConnectCare* project in several regional aged care facilities across Australia. The project uses video conferencing technology to significantly improve the quality of life for ageing Australians by reducing levels of social isolation.
Residents are benefiting from virtual visiting programs with family and friends and social activities including video-conferenced Who Wants to be a Millionaire competitions against other facilities. Staff are improving efficiency through an electronic record system, allowing them to spend less time on paperwork and more time caring for residents.
With two million Australians aged 70 years and older, and almost a further one million aged 80 years of age, aged care facilities are an increasingly important topic to discuss. Along with demographic trends, other significant pressures on residential aged care emanate from changes in the marketplace, government funding models and workforce pressures.
Mr Alder believes a collaborative effort between the aged care sector, industry and government is mandatory in assisting aged care facilities embrace technology.
“The challenges to putting this in place are significant but when the baby boomers hit ‘old age’, we need to ensure infrastructure is at their finger tips, and not at the back door. This is indeed a golden opportunity,” concludes Mr Alder.
* ConnectCare is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Clever Networks Program.