In this profile, we share further information about the 2022 Winner of the Technology – Health and Wellbeing category Whiddon, who was the first to trial Rapid Testing in the aged care sector in Australia.
The COVID-Delta variant in mid-2021 had a significant impact on the aged care sector, presenting major concerns for service delivery, safety and staffing. Whiddon, an aged care provider with 19 homes across NSW and Southern QLD saw the need for accurate and fast testing to reduce the delays caused by lab-based PCR testing. In order to address this challenge, Whiddon created the Point-of-Care Rapid Testing solution.
Aims and Objectives
The main aim of the Point-of-Care Rapid Testing solution was to provide a higher level of protection and reassurance for residents, families and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The solution aimed to reduce the delays of lab-based PCR testing, which could take up to 5 days to return results, by implementing rapid antigen and rapid PCR testing methods.
The rapid testing solution was implemented in three different ways; rapid antigen testing in residential aged care, rapid antigen testing for the mobile home care workforce, and rapid PCR testing to conduct a lab-free rapid PCR testing trial. Whiddon partnered with Pantonic Health and Respond Global to trial and evaluate the testing solutions.
The first trial involved rapid antigen testing of all employees, contractors, and visitors entering the residential care homes in Sydney, and residents who were showing flu-like symptoms – 5,180 people over a two-week period. The second trial involved rapid antigen testing of employees providing home care services in Sydney, using remote technology to record the results. The final trial involved rapid PCR testing at the point of care, enabling results to be received within 90 minutes.
Funding and Key Stakeholders
The rapid antigen trials were part-funded retrospectively by the Commonwealth Government, with the per-person cost estimated at approximately $18 to $20 per person. The rapid PCR trial was funded by Pantonic Health with in-kind funding from Whiddon. Whiddon worked with several key stakeholders, including the Department of Health, Aged Care Quality Standards Commission, Respond Global and Pantonic Health, to assess the performance of the rapid testing solution.
Why it won
Whiddon’s Point-of-Care Rapid Testing solution was a life-saving innovation for residents and clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. The solution allowed Whiddon to get their workforce back to care quickly and with confidence, and gave the frontline team control over the testing process. The trials led to the widespread adoption of rapid antigen testing across all aged care services in Australia and the rapid PCR testing is contributing towards TGA approval for its widespread use.
Entries for the 2023 Future of Ageing Awards open May 1, 2023 – For further information.
Thanks to those companies who have shown their support for the awards through a partnership. They are listed below: