When the initial COVID-19 lockdown was announced in March 2020, Blackall Range Care Group (RangeCare) recognised that new services were needed to adapt to new restrictions while also supporting 2,000 elderly and disabled clients.
It became apparent that many clients were going to be isolated at home with little or no family support, and many others were significantly impacted in numerous ways. In addition, they understood that many older members of the community struggle with technology, so any technology-based solution needed to be supported.
Engagement is key
RangeCare introduced a range of new services, one of which was the iPad Loan Program. This service included the loan of an iPad with access to free Internet and tuition to ensure people could stay in touch with loved ones and other members of their local community via video chat applications. This later expanded into an in-home technology support service where staff can assist with setting up devices and programs for clients in their homes.
More recently, RangeCare introduced a VR Experience program where staff facilitate sessions with clients using a Virtual Reality headset. Clients can engage with a number of virtual activities including puzzles, games, and virtual travel. This has enabled clients to ‘visit’ their overseas hometowns for the first time since childhood through these experiences.
Putting the client first
RangeCare understood the importance of listening to clients and being agile in their response, rather than simply doing what they have always done. Investing time to help people adapt to technology and understand what it can deliver for them, was a priority. Staying connected is not just about COVID-19, rather it extends an individual’s social network and has many other benefits long-term.
The feedback received from clients participating in these programs has been overwhelmingly positive. By the end of 2021, RangeCare had enabled 48 clients, equating to over 404 hours of in-home tuition to stay in contact with families, remain connected to their community, and take part in unique experiences. In addition, 105 clients received technology support equating to 578 hours.
Continuing to grow
RangeCare’s technology services have continued to develop and expand its offerings based on client demands. As a not-for-profit, it can be challenging to develop new business models through innovative thinking, however as RangeCare continues to meet the needs of its clients, they are finding more creative ways to source applicable funding and expand their offerings.
Recognised by industry
Blackall was recognised as a finalist in the Improving Consumer Choice Category in the 2021 innovAGEING National Awards.