UnitingCare Ageing is the single largest provider of aged care services in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. UnitingCare Ageing provides care for around 14,000 people in 84 residential aged care facilities, 79 retirement villages and over 4,000 community care clients, served by 5,500 staff.
UnitingCare Ageing is made up of seven regions, and each region has an average of 12 residential aged care facilities, 745 beds and 511 nursing and care staff. Services are continually developed by seeking knowledge, responding to and meeting community expectations and introducing innovative approaches for providing the best possible care for the people who are served.
The Executive Leadership Team at UnitingCare Ageing identified that residential care processes and practices were predominantly manual, inconsistent, poorly adopted, as well as reliant on what staff members intuitively knew and understood. These business arrangements resulted in unreliable care delivery and tasks that were cumbersome, time consuming and not easily replicated. The business processes became worse when agency staff, who were not familiar with the processes, were involved.
Gillian McFee Director of UnitingCare Ageing said, “the strategic imperative for this initiative was around unifying one of Australia’s largest providers of residential aged care services from what was a highly decentralised organisation while, at the same time, achieving consistent practice and management information for reporting on and assessing performance.”
“A further strategic imperative was to simplify administration and reporting for care services staff so that they could spend more time in providing face-to-face resident-centric care to clients,” Gillian said.
iCareHealth’s Clinical and Care Management software was implemented in UnitingCare Ageing’s residential aged care facilities. UnitingCare Ageing has 5,225 residential aged care beds throughout New South Wales, which made this software implementation the largest ever undertaken by an Australian aged care provider.
“We chose to implement iCareHealth as it was a scalable solution and could be uniformly adopted across our services and aligned with best practice models,” said Gillian.
“Their approach to implementation and helping us along the change management process allowed us to complete the project before the deadline and under budget, while meeting the agreed requirements of the approved business case,” she said.
The time savings are being applied to improving care delivery. Care workers now spend more time with residents, and this increases the probability of improved outcomes.
Greater accountability and better care practice management
Gillian McFee explains, “iCareHealth has provided a software for enabling much greater accountability from staff about the quality of assessment and care planning. This is central to the effective implementation of the ACFI tool which determines what income is available for client care. iCareHealth also gives management a way to review performance around many aspects of care practice such as care planning to ensure adherence to organisational policies.”
Paper-based processes have been largely replaced at UnitingCare Ageing, especially for clinical and care related information.
“A conservative estimate of paper-based usage would now be 10 percent.” Gillian stated.
More efficient and effective care management
“The clear improvements in care have been achieved through a reduction in the duplication of data capture and entry. The time savings are being applied to improving care delivery. Care workers now spend more time with residents, and this increases the probability of improved outcomes,” said Gillian.
Examples of the efficiencies gained include:
- nursing and care staff being able to access all information in one place and not having to physically locate paper files
- more than one person can have access to a resident’s file at any one time
- Category 1 and 2 incidents can be reviewed immediately by a regional executive before going to a facility, improving corporate governance. The quality and client safety manager at head office is also able to review clinical files online.
- Family enquiries are able to be responded to immediately by line managers and regional executives
- Improved visibility of client records has allowed better relationship management with families
Successful introduction of information technology
There has also been a rise in work since the successful implementation of iCareHealth.
“Feedback from staff has been very positive,” explained Gillian. “Our staff members have said ease of access and the retrieval of information is now wonderful.”
“It is great that care staff are finding information quickly and time is being saved,” Gillian said.