Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2014 Contents THERE WAS PLENTY of activity at
the My Aged Care contact centre
in Melbourne's Box Hill when AAA
visited in mid-May.
The centre's staff said there
had been an increase in the
volume of calls from aged care
providers in recent weeks, which
was unsurprising given our visit
occurred just days before the
accommodation pricing information
was published on My Aged Care.
But as the pricing information
is just one of numerous reforms
kicking in from mid-year, the
centre is currently in a state of
expansion as it responds to a
growing demand for information
about aged care.
Mary Carey, manager of
the Aged Care Gateway at
Healthdirect Australia, which was
awarded the government contract
to develop and operate My Aged
Care, says there is increasing
community awareness of the
reforms -- particularly around the
"We're already getting some
calls from providers and informed
members of the community, we
were expecting that. There will be
a lot more questions, so we're
gearing up for that," Carey says.
In anticipation of that increase
in calls, the centre has been
recruiting additional staff, some
of whom had undergone their
training and started taking calls
earlier that week, explains Emma
Sinclair, account executive with
Stellar, the operator appointed to
run the contact centre.
According to Healthdirect, the
centre has taken over 120,000
calls since going live in July 2013,
with an average handling time of
eight and a half minutes per call.
From the outset, the majority
of calls to My Aged Care have
come from carers, Sinclair says.
"There's been an event that's
triggered the need for care, or the
identification that their parent or
relative might need care."
Carey says the primary
purpose of the contact centre is
to complement the My Aged Care
website in providing information
about aged care.
So what kind of questions do
callers usually have?
"Often it's surrounding the
fees," says Natalie James, a
customer service specialist at
the centre. "That's the thing that
confuses people the most. And,
more generally, where to start,
because usually they don't know
where to go or what to do first;
that comes up a lot."
Anna Accadia, manager of
the contact centre, says staff are
trained to "take a step back" and
begin by getting an understanding
of the caller's situation. "Because
we individualise our responses
according to their needs at that
time," she says.
"We get them to explain
their story, the reason why
they are seeking whatever it is
they're looking for," says James.
"Depending on what type of care
it is we then explain what their
options are, whether it's residential
or community care, what the
best solution might be to keep
them independent or provide
appropriate care for their needs.
Then we refer them appropriately,
whether it's to an assessment
team or a service provider."
"Everyone's story is different,"
adds Accadia. "Not everyone wants
to give you all that information
straight away, so it's about being
there and having the skill to listen
and understand their needs."
Interestingly, Carey says that
before they reach My Aged Care,
many callers are unaware of
community care. "A big part of
My Aged Care is making people
aware they have options."
While carers have constituted
the majority of calls, the changes
to financial arrangements in
residential care from 1 July has
seen the volume of calls from
providers increase from an average
of 6 per cent to 10.5 per cent in the
last month, Accadia says.
Clearly, staff selection and
support are crucial elements for
a service dealing with callers
who can be upset, confused or
Recruitment includes an initial
phone screening, personality
assessment and interview,
says Sinclair, "to make sure
the candidate has a high level
of emotional intelligence, is
empathic and supportive."
New recruits undertake two
weeks of classroom-based
intensive training covering all
aspects of the aged care system,
including services available,
assessment and funding. This
is reinforced by ongoing training
and regular staff evaluation and
feedback, Sinclair says.
"We also train to the wellness
and reablement philosophy
and our staff are educated to
understand those philosophies,"
Healthdirect reports that the
contact centre has achieved 'yes'
and 'mostly' satisfaction rates of
95 per cent from consumers and
90 per cent from providers.
Accadia, who previously
worked in residential aged care
for eight years, says that positive
feedback is rewarding. "To have
My Aged Care as a central point
of access and information is really
important. And the feedback we
get reinforces that," she says. n
Inside My Aged Care
A key element of the reforms, aged care's 'gateway' for information
and access marks its one year anniversary in July. Darragh
O'Keeffe visited the contact centre and heard from its staff about
the service being provided.
24 | JULY -- AUGUST 2014 | AAA
Links Archive AAA Spt-Oct 2014 AAA May-Jun 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page