It’s not flying wheelchairs or talking robots just yet, but innovation and technological advancements mean an overhaul for the aged care sector.
Virtual reality, artificial intelligence and apps are not things that were once correlated with the aged care sector. In fact, these kinds of hi-tech developments have never been associated with the generation that is often considered the most ‘out of touch’ with technology.
According to a study by ACMA, seventy-nine per cent of older Australians have accessed the internet at some point in their lives. Turns out the part of the population we have renounced as technologically inept isn’t as clueless as we’d all like to think!
With our seniors evolving and adapting to the changing climate, aged care workers are experiencing the same shift. To meet the demands of a constantly evolving environment, workers are now expected to embrace these new processes, procedures and methods.
So, what are some of the changes that aged care workers can expect this year?
Nowadays there’s an app for everything. Even the simplest tasks have been made simpler with the introduction of an app. Many aged care workers have already jumped on board the bandwagon and use apps in their working environment to help assist them with their daily tasks. Some of these apps have been formulated to aid processes within the working environment, such as translation services for those with limited linguistic abilities.
CareApp was designed by occupational therapist Allison Nikula, who found herself caught between two worlds when she had to find residential care for her grandparents. Noticing how there wasn’t really an easy or consistent way to receive regular updates about how her grandparents were faring, she created a platform where aged care providers were able to send updates on residents via an app. Apps like this also demystify the often “enigmatic” nature of aged care facilities and eases the worries of families, especially with the odd report coming to light about alleged mistreatment and neglect within some facilities.
Other apps have been designed to help workers with other aspects of their professional lives as well. For example, HireUp is an app designed to help pair support workers with those who seek support. The app is solely dedicated to sourcing jobs for support workers, so it is relevant only to those within the industry and a great addition in the pocket of aged care workers seeking employment.
Staff work hard to keep the four walls of residential care filled with laughter, fun and opportunities to learn and experience new things. Regardless of the tremendous effort workers put in, it can become wearisome and repetitive for some residents who have spent many years within a facility. While virtual reality has long been used for training and development purposes, it has also been a core element of leisure and entertainment as well. Of late, virtual reality specific to Aged Care has been introduced to help provide those in the aged care sector with fun and exciting things that they otherwise are unable to experience. Called Aged Care Virtual Reality, it features scenarios such as African safaris and hot air ballooning. Due to their huge popularity and success, some aged care providers across Australia have already made these a permanent feature of their facilities.
As mentioned earlier, many seniors are embracing the internet to rekindle connections they feel they have otherwise lost. According to a study by nbn co, two in five seniors use the internet to overcome feelings of loneliness. Whether using the internet to connect with family members, old friends or even new friends they make online, the internet helps foster a sense of belonging and community. To facilitate this better, some aged care workers are delivering hands-on training to teach residents how to correctly and safely use the internet and other devices. Though the intention is to help seniors find a way to reconnect, it also helps teach them new skills that become valuable assets for them in the future.
Although these are only a few examples of what’s in store for 2019, we predict more technological advancements, such as the increased use of robotics within the workplace and voice-activated systems, designed to simplify the current processes. That’s why it’s important for aged care professionals to remain abreast of industry trends and changes. If you’re feeling rusty or need a refresher, we can help!
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