Conference Abstracts

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Gear up for achievement in aged care ITC

McDonald, T. A. & Russell, F., 2011

HIC Conference, Brisbane Australia

ABSTRACT

Background: Information technology now affects all aspects of management, care and treatment services to older people in care. Options for non-technological approaches to this work are diminishing as information and communication technologies (ITC) permeate work roles and use ITC to meet regulatory and accountability requirements. The introduction of technological change poses inherent risks of losing valuable employees who find the technology challenge too great; and/or of diminishing work quality because of user errors.

Objective: The project aims to identify management and staff attributes in implementing computerised information systems; identify staff factors that enhance or impede technology uptake; and examine the effect of computerised care records on clinical outcomes for aged care residents.

Methods: Computerised care documentation systems were introduced to the RSL Veterans’ Retirement Village in 2007 with the move to a computerised documentation system, Lee Total Care (LTC) which was adapted to existing systems of documentation and reporting. The initial introduction of LTC systems at the village was supported by considerable staff training and coaching as well as investment in state-of-the-art IT systems throughout the organisation. In 2010 staff at the site were surveyed to find out how they were coping with the change in work design, and whether they thought benefits had been gained regarding work load, resident care and management outcomes.

Results: Respondents are greatly influenced by their own feelings of control over the situation and the pressure or comfort they experience in using computers. Multivariate linear regression modelling was used to explain the impact of certain variables. Stress felt in using computers and working with the computerised care documentation system, scores negatively on all four areas related to potential for impact on staff and workloads; time savings; accuracy of information for care and accreditation; and resident care outcomes. Those feeling empowered in terms of personal control over their work and feeling secure in using computers at work, believe that ITC impacts on staff and workloads by a factor of 0.49 - 0.51; time saving by a factor of 0.33; accuracy of reporting and meeting regulatory requirements by 0.47 - 0.38. However, the most significant result is their belief that using the LTC system improves resident care by a factor of 0.81 – 0.84.

Conclusions: After three years of using LTC systems, computerised care records and online information access are ubiquitous for managers and clinicians alike.

The change reported here was implemented within a care context with traditional reliance on non-technology solutions. Respondents with positive perceptions of their ability to use computers well and who believe they have some control over using computers at work, are very likely to have positive attitudes towards using computers. Those feeling stress when using computers are less likely to see positive benefits from computers in long-term care environments.

CITATION McDonald, T. & Russell, f. (2011) Gear up for achievement in aged care ITC. Health Informatics Conference (HIC) “The transformative power of innovation” Brisbane, 1-5 August.

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