Provider launches virtual solution for rural aged care

McLean Care has developed and launched virtual workforce platform iAgeHealth to address unmet clinical aged care needs in regional, rural and remote areas.

Regional New South Wales aged care provider McLean Care has developed and launched a virtual workforce platform to address unmet clinical care needs in residential aged care in regional, rural and remote areas.

Following a two-year testing and development phase with input from specialists at Deakin University, the clinical and technological solution – iAgeHealth – was officially launched at the Aged & Community Care Providers Association national conference last month.

The solution uses video conferencing technology and the Internet of Things to enable live virtual in-room care and diagnostic capabilities. It aims to remove geographical barriers and bridge workforce gaps to offer regional, rural, and remote aged care facilities increased access to qualified nursing, specialist and allied health clinicians, 24 hours, seven days a week.

McLean Care chief executive officer Sue Thomson said the service would revolutionise the level of clinical assessment, treatment and quality of care offered to aged care residents in these areas.

“One in three Australians live in regional, rural, and remote communities and have poorer access to health services, poorer health outcomes, higher levels of disease and lower rates of life expectancy. A big reason behind these outcomes is the inequity of services available,” Ms Thomson said.

“We regularly hear reports from within the aged care industry that older people in residential aged care can wait more than two weeks to see a physiotherapist. With this new technology, a remote physio can assess and treat older people within 24 hours, particularly in urgent cases such as after a fall.”

With a virtual hub of specialist clinicians, iAgeHealth provides 24/7 access to registered nurses and 7-day access to a multidisciplinary allied health team led by a nurse practitioner, including physiotherapists, dietitians, and other allied health professionals working with registered nurses. The service also offers clinical specialisations such as wound care, diabetes management and chronic health management.

“This service provides a timely, safe and quality solution that will ultimately improve the health outcomes of older persons in rural, regional and remote communities,” Ms Thomson said.

Sunhaven Hostel, a residential aged care home with fewer than 20 beds in Ashford in the north-west of NSW, is among those who trialled the technology.

Sunhaven Hostel care worker Vina Sibal using iAgeHealth to support resident care

The facility’s manager Kim Meal encouraged her counterparts to consider the platform. “This is one way that we can keep our doors open and continue to meet the needs of our residents,” she said.

Care worker Vina Sibal described the technology as helpful, innovative and user friendly. “And it made my life as a care worker here at Sunhaven so much easier to provide the care of the residents,” she said.

McLean Care built on its 60 years of experience as an aged care provider and innovator to come up with the solution in partnership with a team of leading experts and researchers from technology, aged care, health, and digital health fields.

Next steps include the deployment of iAgeHealth nationally starting with a group of early adopters who will be offered the opportunity to sign-up from December 2023.

“This is a solution that has been designed by the industry, for the industry,” Ms Thomson said.

Main image: iAgeHealth in use at Sunhaven Hostel in Ashford, NSW, where the platform was trialled

See the next edition of Australian Ageing Agenda magazine for an in-depth report on this new platform

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Tags: deakin university, featured, iAgeHealth, mclean care, sue thomson,

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