A point-of-care resident management system has allowed staff to spend a fifth less time on paper work and searching for information and more time on direct care, an independent evaluation has found.
The University of Canberra undertook a two-year evaluation of a federally-funded pilot of the ACE platform at Jindalee Aged Care Residence at Narrabundah in the ACT and found high levels of satisfaction among staff and residents.
ACE is a point-of-care documentation, decision support and clinical workflow system developed over eight years by Canberra-based technology firm Humanetix in collaboration with aged care nursing and care staff.
The researchers examined data from 65 residents, 90 staff, seven managers and administrative databases including 130 pedometer readings, scores of surveys, hallway interviews, time and motion observations and documentation diaries along with focus groups, documentation audits and incident reports.
Lead researcher Dr Kasia Bail the evaluation aimed to identify how ACE affected quality and efficiency of care at Jindalee, and whether it was acceptable to the home’s staff and residents.
“We found a 20 per cent saving in nursing time. This was based on that they were walking 25 per cent less distances… and they were spending less time at the desk doing documentation about what care had been provided,” Dr Bail told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“We did time and motion observations and watched what they were doing and they spent less time looking for the information that they needed,” said Dr Bail, an Associate Professor in nursing at the University of Canberra.
Nurses spent 6 per cent less time searching for and gathering information, which resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in steps per shift, while their time spent documenting fell from 20 per cent to 6 per cent. And care workers spent 10 per cent less time multitasking, according to the evaluation.
Dr Bail said ACE also improved the quality of care as a result of increased staff time spent in direct care with residents and its resident focus.
“The residents noticed that the staff were able to stay put or stay with them in particular,” Dr Bail said. “[Staff] were able to access information about their resident’s life stories, so if they wanted to make chit chat or take them on a particular activity, they had more information about what the resident had previously done in their life, what their general preferences were, and weren’t just relying on photos at the side of the bed.”
The evaluation also found the system was easy to learn, navigate and highly accepted among staff and residents.
“Staff, and even staff who were from a non-English speaking background or who didn’t like computers or have their own phone, found the devices quite easy to use,” Dr Bail said.
Residents also found it reassuring that staff had the information they needed at their fingertips, rather than having to go to the nurses’ desk, the evaluation found.
Staff can use ACE on mobile devices including phones and tablets as well as computers, enabling them to choose where they document care.
ACE has helped staff deliver “less intrusive” care to residents and is supporting them to make the best use of their time, Dr Bail said.
“This is a real opportunity to reinvest that time and work that we want these nurses to be doing… making good use of their time so that they can do what they do best is really important,” she said.
Humanetix CEO Lindsay Bevege said increasing the amount of time staff spend with residents is a proven way to improve the safety and quality of life for residents.
“The independent government-commissioned study unambiguously shows ACE delivers these benefits, while also improving the work satisfaction of staff and improving productivity for the facility operator. High integrity, complete data on care delivered is also crucial to the transparency and accountability the royal commission called for,” Mr Bevege told AAA.
ACE makes the sector’s core business of care “far more individualised, precise and transparent,” he said.
“Management can be confident of governance and reduce the risk errors, omissions or failures in the duty of care. This breaks a destructive cycle that blights the sector, whereby errors cause stress for staff and residents, which causes more errors.
“With less time on administration and at-hand decision support, stress subsides and errors fall,” Mr Bevege said.
Jindalee Aged Care Residence owner Gary Johnson said ACE has helped them to better meet the needs of residents.
“With the installation of ACE, Jindalee now has unmatched quality assurance and an even greater understanding of each resident’s needs and preferences,” Mr Johnson said.
Main image: A staff member at Jindalee Aged Care Residence using ACE at the point of care.