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Improving Quality of Aged Care through Software

In its discussion paper titled Let's talk about quality the Australian Government's Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) made steps to establish and promote ideas of quality to providers of aged care services. This can have several perceived knock-on effects for your aged care software selection. As a key facilitator of aged care services, your software solution is a serious investment in your ongoing success. 

In the paper, the AACQA asked the question - what constitutes quality of care, and what are the common challenges to achieving quality in aged care? In its bid to shape and inform the “key strategic and policy directions” of aged care, the paper aims to build a "future that places consumer choice and flexibility at the heart of the quality framework for aged care in Australia". 

The care of Australia's aging population has presented a number of well-documented challenges. In a previous post we mentioned that according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, population projections show that in 2012, over 14% of our population were aged 65 years and over. This is projected to increase to 22% in 20611.

The mandate for continuous improvement 

This considerable challenge also meets a Government mandated need for concerted ongoing improvement. The AACQA has established a need for continuous and systematic advancement. It asserts to be effective in this goal, continuous improvement must “be a central focus of your organization" understood at all levels and accepted by all management and staff”.

As a provider of aged care, the outcomes of said care are your chief concern and the software system adopted by an aged care facility can be a great supporter of operational performance. Ideally, it should free up staff to better attend those they care for. Hopefully it should also allow managers and operators to step back and observe opportunities for additional improvement.

The AACQA discussion paper further notes that the people under care as a group are becoming more diversified and have more choices available to them in regards to their care. In support of their wellbeing, care providers may find that they are competing with different providers in previously unforeseen ways. In this sense, the adopted system should allow them to adapt and change.

Software as a service experience 

In the beginning, as future residents and their families perform their evaluation of care providers, staff interactions facilitated by the software system can form some of the first experiences of an aged care provider. So in this sense, not only should providers be concerned about software from an operations perspective, it can also help shape initial perceptions of service levels. 

Criteria for consideration 

When considering a new software solution, it can pay to consider quality of care as an extension of a well operating and flexible system. In this sense, there are several factors to consider.

Is the solution localised and industry specific? 
Software that is localised for the Australian market provides a better framework from which to grow. The complications of a solution that requires operators to retrofit the software to work with the Australian market can cost valuable time and money, and can mean that it is not achieving its full potential. 

Is there readily available support?
Service failures can become critical when staff do not have access to the right assistance on a timely basis. Is your preferred provider able to provide technical assistance that supports your operational dependencies, providing confidence and reliability?

Are the deployment options flexible? 
People are beginning to work in a diversified number of ways. Systems that offer flexible implementation options, such as the cloud deployments as discussed last month mean that personnel can work in ways that support efficiency and adapt to their preferred work environment. 

Is the software integrated?
Software that is well integrated with existing Australian systems can be critical to compliance with Australian aged care legislation. Your software will likely be interconnected with many other systems, similar to those we considered in June, such as Medicare, reporting tools and other facilities. Software that is well integrated can support systems interactions seamlessly, offering a number of benefits including improved business intelligence.

What are its reporting capabilities?
In the course of day-to-day operations, users can obtain a wealth of data that provides valuable insights for innovation and growth. If your solution only offers limited insight, you may find that you only have a very limited window through which to measure performance and make the kind of continuous improvements necessary. It can be important to ensure that the solution offers useful and detailed dashboards. Well-designed reporting solutions can offer dashboards that provide key information at-a-glance. 
The above criteria are just some of those that should be considered when evaluating software and its ability to support the continuous improvement of care quality. 

 Source: ABS, Population Projections, Australia 2012 - 2101. Cat. 3222.0. November 2013.

Posted by Lee Robbins, Senior Product Manager, Senior Living Solutions, Epicor Software


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