Australia’s population is ageing—the latest population projections by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that by 2064 there will be 9.6 million people aged 65 and over and 1.9 million aged 85 and over, constituting 23% and 5% of Australia’s projected population, respectively.
As a result, the aged care sector faces significant challenges. It is estimated that more than 60% of the existing workforce will enter retirement in the next 15 years—this sharp increase in numbers will be accompanied by radically different expectations of (and pressures on) care support.
Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney predicts that approximately 1.3 million aged care workers will be needed in the industry to meet these new levels of demand—demands which are multifactorial, incorporating not just pressure for beds, but also increased demand for consumer choice and greater technological integration.
What role does technology play?
Technology is changing every industry, and in an increasingly competitive industry, it will be aged care service providers that are savvy enough to harness the opportunities provided by new technologies that will lead the way.
The aged care industry has traditionally relied on a range of time-intensive, manual processes such as data entry, face-to-face checkups and incident reporting; however, with the increasing numbers of retirees and their families insisting on a more comprehensive standard of care, an increase to staffing levels simply may not be enough to satisfy this demand. Adopting new technologies will allow the industry to increase its operational efficiency by streamlining and automating manual processes, making staff and business more effective.
David Lau, Health Industry Lead at Optus Business, states:
“The advantage goes to organisations that can best document what they’ve done, so those that can automate comprehensive data collection and turn that into insight will have a competitive edge”
Mr Lau also highlights that new technology can significantly assist aged care providers in three key areas: efficiency of care services; quality of care provided; and patient experience and satisfaction.
Technology that cares
Described as ‘ageing-in-place’ technology, MimoCare is an innovative system that monitors the wellbeing of an older person, utilising Internet of Things technology to support independent living and peace of mind.
Small, discrete motion sensors are placed at key areas around a home or village unit, collecting and collating a resident’s daily activity levels. These activities are plotted and accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any connected device, with programmable alerts triggered when anything outside of a “normal” activity is detected.
For aged care businesses adopting MimoCare technology, benefits include a reduction in routine manual checking of residents, as the data for each individual unit can be accessed at a central nursing or carers’ station. This streamlines activities and ensures staff time is deployed to areas where face-to-face interaction is essential.
As the MimoCare dashboard is accessible via any internet-connected device, staff will have access to resident information from anywhere around the village. Alerts can be received and information on the incident can be gathered before arriving at the scene. Duty-of-care levels and reaction times can be demonstrably increased.
Post-event reporting is also faster and easier—all data is dated and timed automatically, minimising manual inputs, and is easily exportable to provide to healthcare professionals, should the resident require hospitalisation.
Regular activity and movement is essential in maintaining physical and mental health after retirement, and the trend analysis features of the MimoCare system can track and highlight potential health problems should activity levels gradually or sharply deviate from “normal” ranges.
Additionally, increased nighttime waking or visits to the bathroom may signal to carers of possible health conditions developing, while the fridge monitor can be used to ensure healthy eating patterns are maintained and that food is kept at the optimum temperature to prevent spoilage that can cause illness.
Adopting new aged care technology such as MimoCare not only enables families and care facilities to provide a higher level of care, it also ensures all care activities are measurable and able to be analysed—crucial for continued improvement in an industry that is facing one of its biggest challenges to date.