What is the "right" system to support a continuum of care?
If you can't find one, find a proven partner, and collaborate with them.
Some time ago, the CEO of a large private aged care operator told us they could not find the right system. “Care systems are a main issue we struggle to nail. We are not just a residential aged care provider, not just a home care operator, nor just a retirement village. There is no right system available to us,” he said.
The CEO was describing a common challenge for operators offering a continuum of care – the bundled care options that follow an individual through time, adapting to their changing needs.
Ryman also couldn't find what they wanted, so they built it. Ryman is reported as having made a multi-million dollar investment in creating their own care system. It took real bravery for Ryman to make that investment, and today Ryman is recognised as an industry leader, having used technology to transform their operations into an efficient and effective execution of the concept of continuum of care.
Can others create systems for continuum of care?
In our view it is possible for any aged care provider to create a system to support continuity of care across their services, tailored to their specific culture and needs, although you don’t need to start from scratch. Partnering with a company like eevi, leveraging our eevi Care technology system and expertise, is a good way to customise a fit-for-purpose solution, while keeping costs down.
There are some serious considerations. It takes real bravery and a long-term commitment, from the highest level to the care staff on the floor. For example, how ready are your care staff to adopt new ways of doing things? If you have high turnover, how committed is your organisation to re-train new entrants to your workforce? How committed are your senior managers to use the data and insights, without fear, to drive performance and change?
Some have said that, in aged care, if you are introducing change, you are the enemy, but we don’t believe that to be the case. We have seen the opposite, with a readiness to adopt proven user-led solutions. They just have to work, and users have to see the benefits – to save carers’ time, or improve residents’ outcomes, or save operators money, or save families the worry.
Where do you start?
It’s important to start by undertaking resident and staff user-led research into your pain points and problems. We use an approach called design sprint methodology, borrowed from IDEO, Stanford and Google play books.
The framework offers a compact and robust approach to explore opportunities and to develop and test ideas with actual users. Typically, it operates over four phases, with clients, providers and stakeholders involved throughout the entire process, for co-design and validation.
At its heart, it demands empathetic listening: actively listening without bias, and observing how your residents, carers, care managers and so on interact with their environment and behave. Only then can you analyse recurring themes and insights and start to solve pain points and problems.
There is a warning. The process takes real commitment. The process to develop our eevi Care technology system took over 1,000 interview and script responses, from 37 face-to-face interviews across two organisations and four operating sites. A change of management can be enough to abandon the process and revert to traditional ways of care and the systems that support.
In our view, however, the cost of inaction is increasingly high. Faced with consumer and regulator demands for increasing standards of care, declining profitability and workforce shortages that are dire, the sector has little choice but to find new ways of doing things, and technology can and will be a driver of that change.
So, what is the right system today for operators of a continuum of care? Frankly, in our view, it’s a work in progress. We and others continue this work and welcome discussion on opportunities to collaborate widely with others.
David Waldie, Founder & Managing Director, eevi
**This article was published in Aged Care Today Magazine Spring Edition - read the magazine here**
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