Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2011 Contents Pilots of The Carers' PhoneTM were
conducted in Australia throughout 2010
and the first half of this year. These pilots
have been conducted with the cooperation
of some of Australia's leading providers of
community care. They have involved more
than 200 support workers, care coordinators,
rostering staff, service managers and case
managers and more than 140 clients in
HACC, CACP, EACH, EACHD and various
other community programs.
After this extensive testing-and-feedback
phase it was found that The Carers' PhoneTM
was proven to be successful in eight
locations, including regional centres, remote
townships and urban areas. It had a high level
of acceptance by clients and their families,
with some describing it as "fantastic", "a
positive experience" and being "very happy
with this new system".
In a typical pilot, workers used clients'
phones to log into an automated service and
respond to a series of yes-no voice prompts.
Questions were asked about the client's
mobility, communication, mood, continence,
personal hygiene and nutrition.
With training and experience, calls typically
take workers just 90 seconds to complete.
Once the data is logged, case managers
can log onto the portal to see a record of
responses for their clients, note any patterns,
and take whatever action is necessary.
The phone-based observations, however,
are in no way a replacement for existing
safety, OH&S and elder abuse procedures
or any other mandatory reporting
requirements. Nor do they take the place
of immediate reporting of client illness or
Complex care pilots
A major Victorian local government
provider's Complex Care Team currently
supports 100 clients through CACP and the
National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP).
This team became involved in a pilot for The
Carers' PhoneTM so they could evaluate a
new method of monitoring clients and gain
feedback from care workers about their
clients' overall care needs.
"The information received validated
the case managers' knowledge and
understanding of their clients' needs, and
provided a way to highlight in real time any
potential issues community care workers
might observe clients experiencing during
their rostered shifts," said the team's
Community care workers in her team found
The Carers' PhoneTM system extremely easy
to use and the trigger questions generally
took less than a minute to answer.
Workers also had the option of being diverted
directly to their supervisor or on-call service
if there were concerns that needed to be
Even during the pilot phase, the benefits
of The Carers' PhoneTM were soon obvious.
The benefits reported by the users included
"more proactive monitoring of potential
issues so case managers can work with the
clients and their families to resolve concerns
before they turn into a crisis situation."
Pilots in remote communities
When The Carers' PhoneTM was piloted
in the Northern Territory, it was seen as a
particularly valuable tool for clients at risk
of unnecessary hospital admissions, and
for those in Transition Care Programs who
need very close monitoring after hospital
In regional centres, there are many
challenges for community providers. For
example, there may be a very high turnover
of hospital staff - a factor which can impact
on the continuity of care for community
clients with ongoing health care needs, such
as diabetes and renal failure. High costs of
living and scarce rental housing also make
it very difficult to retain care staff. The
Carers' PhoneTM was found to improve work
satisfaction for direct care staff. This may
prove to be a huge benefit in rural areas.
These observations were made by
Verso Director Matthew Purtell and Associate
Consultant and The Carers' PhoneTM Field
Pilots Coordinator Sue Bromley when they
visited the Northern Territory to review the
results a pilot involving clients receiving
CACP and EACH.
"The Carers' PhoneTM should be of great
interest to organisations servicing clients
in rural and remote locations," says Ms
Bromley. "There are tangible benefits in
being able to receive daily and hourly
feedback from support workers -- not only do
staff feel more connected and confident in
the timely provision of services, but clients
appreciate the value of regular feedback to
staff in the office."
"My passion is
community care," says
Director, Matthew Purtell.
The dedicated customer
support team includes Jan
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