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technology is vital because nurses often have to go looking for
others to assist them, leaving the resident.
"Vocera allows a carer to hit a button and call the other nurse...
it's instant. Neither carer leaves their resident, but they can have a
conversation and say 'Yes, I'll be there in a few minutes'."
Aged Care Plus' use of technology for menus also received
special recognition at the Innovation Awards. Maryann says they
have been redesigned to allow residents to provide instant feedback
to kitchens, which has resulted in improved meal services.
It has also introduced an electronic medication management
"Staff log on and the residents' medications all come up on the
system -- there are beautiful safeguards so they can't move on to
the next resident until they have served and responded to every
medication that is due for that person at that time."
CARING FOR STAFF
More than 1,200 caring and committed staff work for Aged
Care Plus, supported by more than 300 active volunteers.
Management ensures the organisational mission is paramount in
hiring all of its staff across both residential and home care -- it is
a requirement mentioned during the interview process, followed
up in performance reviews and raised in annual CEO roadshows
to all centres.
Staff, as well as residents, are supported emotionally and
spiritually by the Chaplains located at all Aged Care Plus
Centres, and in their careers through professional development
Peter Bewert, Executive Manager - Care Services, says such
opportunities are available across the organisation, and all
learning and development opportunities are regularly reviewed.
Links with professional partnerships (see breakout box)
provide the platform to promote courses, particularly through the
Australian College of Nursing and universities.
"We're then able to look at our internal training programs and
ensure that our staff are made aware of that," Peter says. "Our
person-centred framework, which we will roll out from the end
of this year, is a good example -- there will be an entire education
suite that goes out to our centres and that's as a result of the
multiple alliances and affiliations we have."
An internal scholarship program sponsored by Aged Care Plus
and available to the wider Salvation Army territory, the Fellows
Program, is open to staff each year and provides up to $5000 per
person to do a course or attend a conference so recipients can
better themselves and the mission.
Aged Care Plus staff also have access to a variety of career
pathways and are encouraged to seek learning opportunities. Such
initiatives have been developed through staff feedback, notably
the staff engagement survey, The Voice, which is conducted every
second year to measure staff satisfaction and engagement.
Last year's results increased to 78% for overall engagement,
higher than the aged care industry average of 77%, and an
increase to 90% in commitment to mission.
Sharon says the results inform areas of potential improvement
-- currently wellbeing, leadership and communication methods --
and she is encouraged by the 9% improvement in response rate,
up to 61%, for the 100-question survey.
"Our staff obviously know we are keen to hear their views and
do something about them."
SPREADING THE WORD
Sharon, a NSW finalist in the 2012 Telstra Business Women's
Awards and named as one of the Australian Financial Review's
100 Women of Influence in 2012, says the awards she and her
organisation receive are not sought but "help acknowledge that
the path you are on is the right one".
"It's another opportunity for us to showcase what we have
She admits Aged Care Plus' high levels of care, building and
technology are not always widely known, so the organisation is
looking to more strongly market itself in the future. Other current
work includes active membership of the National Aged Care
Alliance (NACA) and the recently-created
Pastoral and Spiritual Care of Older People
(PASCOP), as well as the launch of the new
"There's a whole host of things there
on the horizon for us. We've got a growth
strategy, not just in residential but home
care as well. And underpinning it all is our
commitment to social justice."
As she and her leadership group
showcase Aged Care Plus to conferences
around the world and in Australia, that is
the message they strive to impart.
"We only go out and talk at conferences
if we are legitimately achieving great
things for people," Sharon says.
"It's hard work, but the benefits you
can get from sharing with the industry
your expertise and engaging with others
who have similar views and are also
achieving great things will just strengthen
us even further." n
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS with key
educational facilities and professional
bodies is helping The Salvation Army Aged
Care Plus to deliver advanced care -- and
create a sustainable workforce.
Peter Bewert, Executive Manager
- Care Services, flags the partnership
between Aged Care Plus and the
Australian College of Nursing as one of the
"It has influenced many of our critical
policies. But, in particular, our pain
management, diabetes management
and wound-care policies were created in
partnership with the Australian College of Nursing."
Aged Care Plus is also working with the University of
Canberra, with its Gill Waminda Aged Care Plus Centre in
Goulburn participating in a CHART (Cooperative for Healthy
Ageing Research and Teaching) project, which includes
undergraduate student placements.
"We've been looking at our falls management program there
and doing some work around prevention strategies and looking
at correlations between falls and the use of physiotherapy
services for residents," Peter says.
Most recently, Aged Care Plus has signed a memorandum
of understanding with the University of Tasmania to support
undergraduate nursing students with critical placements, as
well as undergraduate paramedics, teaching them to deliver
better health outcomes for residents who may spend long
periods of time in emergency departments.
Other projects include examining the impacts of
occupational therapy in aged care and linking that to a person-
centred care framework in collaboration with Alzheimer's
Australia NSW; and examining mental health and ageing from
an empirical point of view.
Overall, Peter says, the professional partnerships Aged Care
Plus fosters are fundamental to what it does.
"Without those partnerships and those links into research
we can't change to meet the needs of our population groups
that are coming in," he says.
- Care Services,
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