When COVID-19 restrictions started to bite and St Vincent’s Care Services was forced to ramp up compliance measures, it sparked a series of innovations that has not only improved their regulatory systems but has also included families and residents.
The aged care provider for about 2000 residents across 20 centres in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland introduced the Zipline app to book and monitor visitors in line with the changing government requirements this year.
St Vincent’s Care Services Executive General Manager of Consumer Experience Prue Densley said the innovation has enabled significant changes for their facilities.
“Pre-COVID and the restrictions that meant we had to keep track of the traffic in and out of the site, everything was very manual and very paper-based,” she said.
“We would document all the visitors in and out of the facility but it was all on paper and everyone had to sign in and out.
“The fact we’ve gone from that to a digital platform …. This app has enabled us to keep within the guidelines that keep changing by the day for every single home.”
She said the original inputs were significant as each facility had a different layout and different size, with a variety of room elements within the home.
Under the RateIt-developed platform, visitors are able to book in with the centres, declare their vaccination record and record the times they were there. Once the visit is complete, they can then offer feedback or raise any issues.
It is compliant with Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission systems.
The program was tested in their Queensland Carseldine and Maroochydore sites, before extending its use in Auburn, Werribee, Southport and Haberfield. Within three weeks all 20 of their sites were using it.
Ms Densley said the functionality has also revealed previously unrecognised visitor-flow trends, such as peaks around 11am, busier weekends and slower Mondays and Tuesdays.
“If the government came to any of our facilities and said, ‘Tell us who came to your facilities last week’, we would be able to tell them how many people, when they came, how long they came and who they visited.
“The power in that data now that we never had before is huge.”
She said rostered were being mapped to suit the flows.
As well as the compulsory compliance requirements, the app has also proven effective in reducing staff time spend manually entering visitors into spreadsheets and increasing communication with families.
“We can see we’re on the right path,” she said of the COVID measures across the network.
“Ninety-six per cent of the respondents – and we’ve had thousands go through our doors – have said your safety measures are spot on. That gave us the confidence.”
App developer RateIt has said the program can reduce staff compliance up to 70 per cent, reduce the risk of overcrowding, and automate onsite sign-ins, as well as maintaining data for compliance.
None of the SVCS centres, including its three in Victoria, has experienced any outbreaks.
“Very much in Victoria, they’re on a tightrope,” she said.
“We feel for some of those other providers.”