When we consider technology, we can think of our phones and clever devices we touch every day. Technology can improve decision-making. This may include the systems that make driving assistance and automation possible, the bank noticing unusual transactions on your credit card, and intelligent control of traffic lights that will enhance traffic flow. Essentially, technology also impacts many parts of our lives that we seldom consider.
When we consider aged care facilities, we can see only a few decisions driven by technology. Most decisions rely on personal judgment and observations as staff work and interact with clients. Appropriate technology selection can assist aged care providers in tracking and registering care, and automate reporting to the government.
Aged Care companies will have seen fads come and go, and it is reasonable to ask what kinds of technology best helps an organisation achieve its goals. At the same time, they can tangibly gain a competitive advantage by improving their decision-making with the clever use of technology.
For example, technology is adaptable and can recognise the specific needs of people. AI technology needs to be diverse, flexible, and personalised for the needs of aged care consumers. Technology is also flexible and can change as aged care consumers lose mental capacity. To illustrate, dementia patients may need different arrangements for transport, media players or seating arrangement as their needs change. Technology can assist in this dynamic tracking of needs, and can be as easy to use as sending a text with a smartphone.
Predominantly existing aged care technology is siloed, and focus on specific reporting requirements rather than being consumer-centric–with important information often not being shared due to lack of integration. Digital literacy in the aged care workforce is also limiting the use of technology, creating a barrier to adopting what is sometimes life-saving technology solutions. The use of automated reality (AR) and the internet of things (IoT) can break down the digital literacy barrier whilst providing more accurate and consistent information that can be used for better decision making and saving lives.
The digital revolution is changing how we capture data and how we communicate and interact with people. Understanding technologies emerging from the digital revolution and leveraging off those technologies can add automated value to operations, create consistencies in care and increase the standard of care.
Care providers can use data-driven decisions to optimise their quality of care, adjusting care needs as required when and where increased operation can occur. Investing in pre-certified assistive technologies and smart technologies to support care and functional needs of older people will help manage their safety and contribute to their quality of life.
Technology might include tools to recognise fear, watch for injury, and increase security. An example would be to extend the use of technology for door security.
“My father doesn’t lock his door because he can’t get up to unlock it to let in the care workers. As a result, it is often left open and unlocked. A few weeks ago, a fellow resident entered his room, went through his belongings, and took his wallet. My father, with limited mobility, was unable to stop him. Digital recognition of his carers and my father would have prevented the unauthorised entry”.
Technology can be empowering, provide dignity and security for those living in an aged care facility. It puts important everyday decisions back in the hands of the aged care resident. Another benefit of this type of technology would be to help people who have difficulty using keys due to loss of dexterity or mental capacity. Smart technology supports consumer-directed and person-centred care.
Data from scanning the physical space to create a virtual reality model can be used to create an automated Falls Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT). This takes modern technology for safety to the next level. A modern FRAT system can draw on existing and recommended industry standards and strategies to create algorithms that identify fall risks and suggest preventative actions. This spatial data collected can improve building designs and movement flow to decrease the chance of accidents and near misses. We can also improve designs for infection control and movement.
Taking this information and adding other data creates an even richer source of information. For example, layering data about serviceable assets, schedules for cleaning common areas, laundry pick-ups, etc can reduce the flow of unnecessary traffic inside and outside of the building, leading to reduced outside influences and decreasing the chances of infectious disease spread.
Technology is adaptable and can recognise the specific needs of people. AI technology needs to be diverse, flexible, and personalised for the needs of aged care consumers. It is also flexible to change as aged care consumers lose mental capacity. For example, dementia patients may need different arrangements for transport, media players or seating arrangement as their needs change. Technology can assist in this dynamic tracking of needs and wants.
Glen Currie is Senior Tutor in Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Melbourne.
Kellee Ireland is Industry Engagement Executive at the University of Melbourne.
To learn more about their work, visit: https://csdila.unimelb.edu.au/