Sustainability. It’s a bit of a buzzword at the moment in the disability and aged care sectors, but it’s not hard to see why.
The last couple of years have been incredibly tough for disability and aged care providers. Providers have had to navigate the uncertainty and confusion that surrounded the COVID-19 pandemic including vaccine mandates, lockdowns and social distancing, whilst also wrapping their heads around significant reform.
Despite these challenges, we saw incredible resilience from organisations and there are certainly a few positives to come from 2021. A big win has been the rapid acceleration in the adoption of digital solutions and care management software from both the Australian Government and the healthcare sector to combat many challenges.
But how is tech enabling sustainability for Australian disability and aged care providers in the face of the pandemic? In this article, we will look at key focus areas of your business for 2022 and how to accelerate through reform with the support of a tech solution to achieve a sustainable model of care delivery and business growth.
Changing regulation has been a constant in the disability and aged care sectors for some time now, but 2021 blew it out of the water.
For the aged care sector, we saw a huge amount of reform come out of the Aged Care Royal Commission including the five pillars plan. Likewise, for the NDIS, we saw a number of proposed NDIS legislative improvements (including the independent assessments debacle).
But perhaps even more significant was the Australian Government’s commitment to align regulation across aged care, disability support and veterans’ care.
What does this mean for you in 2022?
A single framework of standards for the care and support sectors will have a big impact on streamlining the reporting process for providers that operate across multiple areas of care and support.
On the downside, this inevitably means a lot of changing regulation in 2022 and beyond as the transition takes place, and unfortunately, more regulation for providers to wrap their heads around. There’s also evidence that we may continue to see additional reporting requirements placed on providers as the Government pushes for greater transparency and accountability.
With so much reform incoming, tech can support providers to remain agile in the face of the pandemic and increasing competition.
Having care management software that automates compliance processes and takes the stress out of reporting has proven to be an invaluable time-saver while ensuring that your organisation remains compliant as these regulatory changes continue to take regular effect.
When it comes to audit time, keeping an audit trail is made simple with client case and task management functionality that link all service delivery records to your clients so you’re not left scrambling around at the last minute for individual pieces of paper.
Combined with real-time reporting and dashboard tools, this enables providers to transparently and accurately collate and share data. Support your workforce with the appropriate software tools to evidence Quality Standard compliance.
The care and support sectors have shifted to a consumer/participant directed care model which goes beyond the existing person-centred approach – giving participants and consumers greater choice and control in the care and services they wish to receive, how it’s delivered, and by whom, as well as increased transparency and personalisation.
For example, we’re seeing a major shift towards home care in the aged care space with the majority of older Australians preferring to remain in their own home for as long as possible. Disability and aged care software can support providers to deliver this model of care in a few ways.
To increase transparency, you could look to enable greater participation of the client and their family carers in the circle of care via a client portal. With Lumary’s Community Portal, providers can assign access to a client and their family to an individual client portal.
This portal allows clients to request appointment times and services, and view information such as real-time budget balances, invoice history, client statements and more. This level of transparency allows the client to make better-informed decisions about their care and greater evidencing of the Practice and Quality Standards.
As part of the person-centred approach, it is also important that your care delivery is responsive to the individual client needs and preferences.
For example, Lumary’s care management software allows support workers to access service agreements, care plans and budgets, and accurately record notes, assessments and alerts so that they can build personal profiles for each of their clients.
Best of all, because it’s cloud-based, you can access it anywhere, anytime – particularly important for a mobile workforce and allow for more working from home when things like a pandemic require it.
This also reduces the delays associated with getting new paper copies back out to the house after a review and the risk of a physical folder being misplaced in the home. Not only is this vital to delivering personalised care, but it creates a better employee experience.
The aged care sector is due for a big funding model shakeup in 2022 and 2023.
We’ve already seen significant changes for the home care industry last year with improved payment arrangements aligning with the NDIS model of payment in arrears, and the same transition planned for CHSP funding as of 1 July 2022, causing home care providers to quickly adapt.
Now, an independent process to advise the Government on aged care pricing issues is being implemented.
This will include the new Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding model forecast to come into effect in late 2022, and new home care pricing coming after the commencement of the Support at Home program from 1 July 2023. This is planned to be delivered through the new Independent Hospital and Aged Care Pricing Authority (IHACPA).
For the disability sector, there are fewer surprises. However, we can expect the usual updates to the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits, which remains an admin headache for providers without the right disability software to support them.
Finding the right tech partner that can help you to operationalise your compliance within regulatory timelines has never been so critical to your business. Navigating changes to pricing, funding models and programs can be complex and manually entering updated pricing, government fees or your own pricing schedule can be incredibly time-consuming.
So, how can this process be simplified?
For disability providers, NDIS software that has the full NDIS price list pre-loaded into the system and a tech partner that will manage the update of rate and rule changes on your behalf is your best choice in the market.
This streamlines the billing process and ensures you remain compliant without the administrative burden and potential human error in manually updating it yourself, saving your team time and providing your organisation greater accuracy with billing and claim making.
Likewise for home care providers, the best HCP software will pre-load and update government-driven fees such as subsidy and supplement amounts for providers.
It will also allow you to upload and manage your own pricing schedules, as well as any external agency or third party rates to be drawn down from package funds when brokering in services at the client’s request. This allows your organisation to accurately forecast and monitor package funding so that you can plan ahead.
We’ve talked a lot about tech and its benefits in streamlining operations. “But I already use lots of different software”, you might say. But is your software interoperable? That is, do each one of your multiple systems speak to each other?
The government is investing heavily to improve information sharing between regulators across the aged care, disability and veterans’ affairs sectors as part of its cross-sector alignment. Across both healthcare sectors, the Government has also been pushing strongly for collaboration between providers and software vendors to transform service delivery and interoperability of information.
For the aged care sector, the Government is investing $154 million over 2 years towards improved ICT to cut paperwork and enable staff more time for the care they deliver.
Likewise, the NDIA continues to work with software developers like Lumary to enable the interoperability of systems that automate transactions and streamline administration.
For example, Lumary has developed our NDIA Integration Module to allow users to automatically make service bookings and service booking amendments in the NDIA’s myplace portal directly and seamlessly from within their Lumary system.
This interoperability between systems is key. A common frustration among workers is having multiple disparate systems that don’t share information with each other resulting in a lot of wasted time in going back and forth between them.
A non-integrated system also lacks transparency, making it hard to show evidence for the quality of care for an audit while also increasing the corporate risk and decreasing data integrity that comes with manual handling or manipulation of data from one system to another.
It’s vital to choose care management software that integrates with your document management, scheduling and rostering, accounting, HR/payroll and communications software to provide you with a holistic, single workflow platform.
For this reason, Lumary has partnered with best in breed software vendors such as Skedulo, Pendula, Formstack, Xero and MYOB to enable a seamless end-to-end experience for your organisation.
If your tech is causing more problems than it solves or you’re interested in seeing how you can become more digitally connected, we recommend providers review our 5 simple steps to digital integration.
By understanding your digital baseline, it’s possible to map out what existing tech is effective for your organisation and where it’s not working as well as you need it to be.
The recruitment and retention of the disability and aged care workforce remains one of the biggest challenges for both sectors.
Even without the challenges that COVID-19 presents, the NDIS will need an additional 83,000 workers in the coming years as the scheme matures, and Australia’s shortage of direct aged care workers is expected to rise to 110,000 within the next decade.
One big positive to come out of the alignment of regulation across care sectors is that shared standards and the new Care and Support Worker Screening Checks will make it easier for workers to switch between the aged care, veterans’ care and disability support sectors.
But how to attract and retain employees in the first place? It’s important to prioritise staff retention first, as not only is it easier and less expensive, but a strong employee experience is key to attracting new staff.
If staff feel unsupported, it may detract from a positive working environment and influence their decision to leave. This is especially true when it comes to the adoption and utilisation of new systems.
It’s why Lumary has in-house System Implementation Consultants, and Customer Success and Customer Outcomes Management Departments. Employees can also use Lumary’s online Help Centre, which is an excellent resource for everything they need, including step-by-step guides for easy reference.
As such, it’s important to align yourself with a tech partner that provides ongoing support for your entire organisation, in particular your workforce.
Another way to keep staff happy… a scheduling and workforce management tool. Providers can easily build optimised schedules for their employees that minimises gaps, double bookings, and travel time.
As an example, Lumary’s Sessions tool is available for providers but Lumary also integrates with software like Skedulo and easyemployer so that no matter which application you choose to use that best suits your workforce, your staff can know what’s going on at all times.
In the age of COVID-19, having complete visibility of schedules and all client data also means staff don’t need to make unnecessary trips into the office.
Finally, always take the time to show your appreciation for a job well done. When employees know that you notice their effort and accomplishments, they will be motivated to keep up their good work. A way to utilise tech to do this is through our system integration with a communications platform.
For example, via software integration apps such as Pendula, providers can set up automated messages or emails to be sent to employees, including a nice birthday message!
With the continued presence of COVID-19, critical staff shortages and ongoing regulatory changes, there will certainly be challenges throughout 2022 for the care sectors. However, there’s also a lot to be optimistic about for disability and aged care providers.
The Australian Government is looking to do its bit in making life easier for providers through its investment in tech and there’s a great opportunity for providers to do the same.
Give your organisation the only thing money can’t buy — time. Get back to providing quality care that enables people to live the life that they choose and allow Lumary to support you to simplify the way you do care.
To speak with a member of the Lumary team and see how you can deliver better care and transform your organisation with care management software, book your free demonstration today.