AAA: Coronavirus sparks digital revolution in aged care

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Published in Australian Ageing Agenda

With providers of care needing support more than ever since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a surge in aged care facilities adopting mobile care monitoring to evidence and track care.

Person Centred Software, developer of an app-based Mobile Care Monitoring system that allows carers to evidence care in real time, managers to plan, record and monitor the care of residents as it is given, has been quick to modify their product to meet the growing needs of care providers in the wake of the outbreak – even offering their software free of charge to support the sector at this unprecedented time.

Providing a lockdown lifeline during the pandemic, Person Centred Software has opened up access to its Relatives Gateway, an online platform that connects families to their loved ones in aged care, to all Australian facilities for three months at no cost.

Connecting residents with their loved ones by providing access to messages and photos taken by care staff and agreed information such as activity and hygiene charts, the Relatives Gateway is part of Person Centred Software’s suite of Mobile Care Monitoring features, all of which aim to provide transparency for both providers and family members. It is included automatically for existing users and available to all providers for free in a gesture of giving back to the sector, says Tammy Sherwood, chief executive officer of Person Centred Software in Australia.

“We have had uptake from lovely rural and remote sites not using clinical software, so we are introducing our software into those sites to allow them to have family members communicate with their loved ones,” she says. Easily accessed via a URL through any web browser, family members can use the gateway to send messages and photos back to residents through the portal.

In April alone, more than 500 people used the Relatives Gateway. Aged care facilities report it helps staff save time, says Sherwood. Nadeem Ahmed, IT manager at James Milson Village in North Sydney, says he’s had “sensational” feedback from staff and relatives about the gateway since the Village started using it 12 months ago. “It gives us a lot of transparency as family members know how their loved ones are being cared for. We’ve had a huge influx of family members utilising Relatives Gateway, sending photos to our residents on a regular basis,” Ahmed says. It has been a particularly great thing to have during the current pandemic, he says. This is a sentiment shared by Jo Boylan, executive of services at Southern Cross Care SA and NT.

“The Relatives Gateway is an amazing tool to enable families, residents and staff to engage and capture the great moments that happen day to day in life, living in our homes,” Boylan says. “It has been critical during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

In late April, Person Centred Software also launched a video link feature as an add-on to the platform, enabling residents to have important face-to-face time with their loved ones even if unable to visit in person. This is an example of Person Centred Software’s agility.

Sherwood says they are able to respond so quickly because their software focuses on clinical care in residential aged care and is not weighed down by other modules. “This means our direction can be guided by the changing environment we find ourselves in and the needs of the consumer now, not what they needed six months, a year or even two years ago – whether that be because of new standards or an unexpected global pandemic,” explains Sherwood. Also in response to COVID-19, the Mobile Care Monitoring Care App has been updated to allow care workers to evidence any symptoms of coronavirus and send an instant alert to the facility manager.

A new reporting tool shows organisations a summary of staff and residents and their current coronavirus status, whilst an icon-based system flags residents who are believed to be demonstrating any symptoms of concern, alerting carers to the need for taking extra precautions when caring for them. “We also have a staff audit tool making sure we can respond if there is an outbreak to let those staff members know who was working at that time and if they need to start self-isolating,” Sherwood says.

A primary aim of the Care App is to give care workers more time with residents and this was proven in a recent case study “The study we conducted shows it gives care workers an hour extra a day during those shifts because they deliver care and evidence care at the point of delivery,” Sherwood says.

“The benefit of using the Care App for the Relatives Gateway is that if there was a special moment or a resident is happy doing an activity you can take a photo there and then and it will upload to the platform for relatives to log in and see. If you didn’t have a mobile device to be able to catch those special moments, it would be missed,” she says.

“We’ve found that COVID-19 has served as a catalyst for aged care facilities that were previously hesitant to take the first steps on their journey to become fully digital. It has encouraged them to embrace technology and showed them how important the changes they make now can completely transform the care they are able to provide,” Sherwood concludes.

Find out more at personcentredsoftware.com/au

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