Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2011 Contents The Carers' PhoneTM is a state-of-the-
art phone-based monitoring system which
allows care workers to provide vital real-
time feedback on their clients' wellbeing
and care status.
To access the system, care workers
make a free 1800 phone call on the client's
landline (or on their own mobile phone) and
then enter a unique PIN. They then record
information about their client's status by
answering a series of standard questions
based on their immediate observations.
These responses are recorded on the
phone's touch pad and transmitted in real
time to a web-based portal.
When an adverse 'trigger' score or
response is recorded, an alert is sent via
email and/or SMS to the appropriate case
manager and/or team leader. Alert defaults
can be individualised for each client,
effectively prompting case managers and
staff supervisors to take remedial action
in response to priority care issues. These
responses are recorded, dated and clocked.
Alert response-time targets can be set
by team leaders or service managers,
which can help with risk management
benchmarking and quality assessment.
Information gathered from each call and
over time enables care teams and case
managers to build valuable real-time and
longitudinal profiles of their clients. Key
changes in clients' care requirements can
be tracked, proactively reducing the risks
of inappropriate admission to hospital or
With every dollar crucial in community
care, the system does not require users to
buy specialised equipment, telephones or
mobile devices. The Carers' PhoneTM has
been designed by the system's creator,
Verso Consulting, to be accessible from any
landline handset or any mobile phone.
"Very early on in our demonstrations of
The Carers' PhoneTM, people would express
amazement that we were not using costly
hand-held devices or mobile phones,"
recalls Verso Director Matthew Purtell.
"The idea of a client-care monitoring
system that doesn't require a personal
handset seems to be viewed as a step
backwards by some larger agencies that
have already committed significant funds
to hi-tech solutions," Mr Purtell says.
"However, many of the people we talk to
are pleasantly surprised once they realise
that a huge upfront cash investment is not
"Most small to medium-sized providers
simply cannot justify that sort of expense
when every dollar counts in community
care. Throughout the entire process of
development, we have made every effort to
keep the costs of the system to an absolute
minimum," he says.
However, The Carers' PhoneTM can easily
be adapted to embrace any existing mobile
phone technology an organisation has.
There's even an application for use with an
iPhone or iPad.
Where it all began
The Carers' PhoneTM was the brainchild of
Verso Consulting Managing Director Mollie
Sullivan whose experience in managing
community care programs led to her desire
to develop an easy-to-use, highly reliable
client monitoring system that would improve
communication between case managers and
staff working in the home with their clients.
"When I assist providers with their funding
applications, I often find they are being
asked about their methods of monitoring
clients' wellbeing in the home, and how that
information gets back to the office of staff
and case managers -- who are often on the
road visiting other clients," Ms Sullivan says.
While many service providers use paper-
based systems, Ms Sullivan knew there had
to be an easier, more confidential and more
time-efficient way of gathering vital client
Several years later, having worked with her
team at Verso Consulting and after rigorous
field testing throughout Australia, The
Carers' PhoneTM now stands as testament to
her commitment to that goal.
During the early stages of development,
Ms Sullivan and her team believed important
keys to the effectiveness of any system
would be a series of trigger questions similar
to those used in some paper-based HACC
monitoring procedures, and the active
engagement of care workers.
"I believe that involving care workers
directly and systematically in evaluating
client needs empowers them in their work,"
Ms Sullivan says.
The Carers' PhoneTM
can be used to monitor
clients receiving all types
of home based care.
The Carers' PhoneTM is
the brainchild of Verso
Managing Director, Mollie
How it works
The Carers' Phone Pty Ltd
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