The Aged Care Royal Commission highlighted a sense of frustration among families in that they knew little about the care provided to their loved ones and were not able to participate in planning that care.
Further, the first COVID-19 outbreak at Newmarch House saw distraught families unable to communicate with their loved ones in care and reporting that they had little feedback in real time about what was happening. It is clear that better communication is a vital element of quality residential aged care.
Connecting Families app
Signature Care decided there had to be a better way to communicate with the family members of residents, and in response developed the ‘Connecting Families’ app, which was trialled with great success.
Rolled out to all Signature Care residents and their families since October 2021, the app has become an important communication tool. It allows families to receive updates as to their loved one’s participation in lifestyle activities and socialisation within the home (including photos) as well as GP and allied health visits. Families and residents can also access the home’s Lifestyle Calendar and Food Menu, and can provide feedback and log requests via the app.
The app is consumer-centric in that it encourages a discussion, dialogue and connection between the resident and their family. For example, by having access to the home’s Lifestyle Calendar, families can encourage residents to participate in activities of interest to them. Additionally, by having access to the ‘Wellness’ timeline on the app, which shows resident participation in lifestyle events, families can inquire as to how the resident enjoyed that particular event and plan to join their loved one for that event in the future.
Likewise, by providing families with access to our food menus, residents can be encouraged to exercise choice regarding meal selection and families can have confidence in the nutritious options available.
Aged care specific
The main focus of Signature Care’s App is that it is resident-focused or resident-centric. The ‘Connecting Families’ app centres around the resident and information that is valuable to residents’ families—engagement, socialisation, photos, access to the Lifestyle Calendar and access to the four-week rotational seasonal menu. The photos that family members receive via the app in the ‘Gallery’ are focused on their loved one—their participation in lifestyle activities and their friendships and socialisation.
Feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with families reporting that the app has provided a real sense of connection with their loved one and the home, despite lockdowns due to COVID-19. The app has reduced families’ anxiety and guilt when first placing a loved one into care, and has bolstered families’ confidence and trust in Signature Care’s level of care and service delivery.
The ‘Connecting Families’ app is not only improving Signature Care’s relationship with residents and families, but it is a signpost to other providers about how to improve confidence in the industry more generally. The app shares the wonderful work of staff as they take care of residents, reducing stress, anxiety and worry of family members, and helping the industry to be perceived in a more positive light.
Recognised by industry
Signature Care was recognised as a finalist in the Increasing Access to Care and Services category in the 2021 innovAGEING National Awards.