Using digital innovations in aged care

A blog post by Professor Jennifer Tieman, Flinders University and Digital Innovations Lead, ELDAC

  • 19 October 2020
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Using digital innovations in aged care

[This blog is part of series of blogs commissioned by ELDAC to support aged care health professionals and care providers in providing end of life care. You can find more information on the ELDAC website.]

2020 has been a remarkable year and it has been a year of remarkable changes. Many people have had to spend time at home to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19. During this time, many of us have learned to engage in different ways using technology. At the same time, organisation and services have been reorganising to support digitally based practice. This has also been true in health care and aged care. Telehealth has become an established part of care provision. Digital communication between care providers and between care providers and clients and their families has become a critical way of providing information, of maintaining relationships, and of supporting virtual care. When we were planning for the ELDAC Phase II (2020 – 2023) before COVID-19, we knew that technology and the digital world needed to be part of our thinking. We now recognise that technology may be even more important in supporting aged care.

ELDAC deals with important issues around how we support the people and organisations who provide care to older Australians using aged care services as they come to the end of their life. Advance care planning and palliative care are an important part of this care. ELDAC already has an established digital footprint through its website, www.eldac.com.au, which provides access to a range of information and resources including the ELDAC toolkits. We have also completed several background reviews on the IT landscape and apps that are already available, which are relevant to aged care and palliative care. In ELDAC Phase I we developed a prototype digital dashboard based on the ELDAC Care Model. This digital dashboard has now been integrated into four IT systems.

In Phase II of ELDAC we are extending our work and developing some new digital products to support aged care. Firstly, we are testing the value and use of the ELDAC Digital Dashboard in a study with fourteen aged care services. This will help us highlight the importance of a dashboard supporting care at the end of life to IT companies servicing aged care. It will also provide us with insights into how to support aged care services to implement the dashboard within their services.

The Digital Innovations team has started work on two new tools as well. The first will be a care worker app, which aims to support home care staff providing care in the home where the older person may be in the last year of life. We will build on our review of currently available apps and establish a task group to help design and test the app. You can express your interest in being involved on the care worker app webpage. The second tool we are developing will be an online support resource for aged care staff. We are currently reviewing existing apps, tools and webpages before setting up a task group to help us develop this online resource.

The last area of work will be some resources that will support services and decisionmakers by enabling access to evidence and studies around aged care. A home care search filter will enable 'one-click searching' to find the relevant evidence in PubMed. This will provide easy access to what we already know about home care from national and international studies. A palliative care projects database will bring together information on Australian studies focused on aged care, palliative care and advance care planning. We often miss important pieces of information because we do not know they exist or because we cannot remember where to find them. These new ELDAC resources will help not only researchers, students, and policymakers but also aged care staff writing policies and procedures.

We are keen to help build the digital resources for aged care around end of life and invite you to find out more by visiting the Digital Innovations page of the ELDAC website.

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Professor Jennifer Tieman, Flinders University and Digital Innovations Lead at ELDAC

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