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Implementing technology-based care and management systems for effective aged care outcomes: Issues and recommendations.

McDonald, T. A., Hardy, J., Lee, C. & Kwok, C., 2008

CONFERENCE Health Informatics Society of Australia, HISA 2008 “The person in the centre” Melbourne, Aug 31 to Sept 2.

ABSTRACT

Background: Evidence based practice is increasingly the catch-cry of health practice in all contexts including the aged care industry. For managers, clinicians and support staff much of the hurdle to be overcome in pursuit of evidence-based practice is accessing up-to-date and relevant information that can feasibly be transferred to practice.

Objective: The aims of this paper are firstly to identify the hurdles faced by managers and staff in implementing contemporary systems of information technology (IT) in the aged care context; secondly to suggest approaches that can be used to overcome resistance to IT by staff and enhancement of their IT proficiency and transfer of evidence to practice; and thirdly, to determine factors that influence staff uptake and proficiency in the use of IT.

Project design and setting: The RSL Veterans’ Retirement Village comprises 460 residential aged care clients at various levels of need for care, treatment, support and protection. The emphasis of care services at the Village is on prevention of health deterioration and maximising quality of life. In 2007 the introduction of a commercial IT system for management, care and treatment resulted in a wholesale change in the culture of the Village and predictably, there were staff who adapted early to the changes while others were more reluctant. An essential aspect of the project and its implementation was staff motivation. Innovative but dignified activities assisted experienced and senior members of staff to accept leadership and advice from less work experienced but more IT experienced participants. Staff training in basic IT usage was required in many instances and the staff underwent intensive skills enhancement through group learning and on-to-one coaching. As well, the IT hardware needed to be adapted to take the commercial software, and then training in the use of the software was needed.

Outcomes: Of the registered nurses, managers and support staff involved in IT training, implementation and proficiency coaching, 75% reached mastery of all aspects within 3 months of commencement. The key to success in implementing this IT change within the Village was the program planning by the team and acknowledgement of learner problems and attention given to finding solutions for individuals as well as the group.

Implications: Change implemented within a care context with traditional reliance on non-technology solutions requires management commitment to (i) adequate IT resourcing (ii) organisational culture of support (iii) acknowledgement of staff input and innovation (iv) evaluation of outcomes for staff, managers and clients.

CITATION McDonald T., Hardy, J., Lee, C. & Kwok, C. (2008) Implementing technology-based care and management systems for effective aged care outcomes: Issues and recommendations. HIC 2008 Health Informatics Society of Australia conference, “The person in the centre” Melbourne, Aug 31 to Sept 2. with Hardy, J., Lee, C. and Kwok, C.

NOTE ISBN 978 0 9805520 0 3 Health Informatics Society of Australia Ltd (HISA) Publishers.


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