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Conference puts the focus on improving aged care

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Information technology is transforming aged care. For example, systems that intelligently monitor behaviour patterns and raise an alarm only when they detect an anomaly can provide security without compromising privacy, enabling old people with infirmities to remain in their own homes longer.

These and many other manifestations of information technology were the focus of annual Information and Technology in Aged Care (ITAC) conference held on 21-22 November at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

The conference was organised by the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council (ACIITC) supported by Leading Age Services Australia and Aged and Community Services Australia.

It brought together 400 delegates from all facets of the industry. However, they had had rather more than technology on minds.

Casting a long shadow of the aged care industry is the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 8 October.

There are no dates yet on its website for public hearings, or details of how to make submissions but the CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Pat Sparrow told delegates at ITAC 2018 that correspondence would be sent out to all aged care providers at the end of November to help inform the Royal Commission ahead of hearings in February 2019.

Sparrow was reported saying that letters would be sent out initially to the top 100 largest aged care providers, with a response due 7th January 2019, and that letters to others would follow a week later.

Quality of aged care a top priority

The quality of care provided by aged care services is top of mind for the Royal Commission. Heading its terms of reference is "the extent to which [aged care] services meet the needs of the people accessing them, the extent of substandard care being provided, including mistreatment and all forms of abuse, the causes of any systemic failures, and any actions that should be taken in response."

There is no doubt that digital technology has enormous potential to improve the care delivered by aged care providers, and that potential was reflected in the theme of ITAC 2018

The theme of the conference was Co-Designing our Digital Future. According to the organisers it "emphasises the importance of assistive technology supporting service quality and independence."

The conference brought together IT experts from Australia and elsewhere with expertise in community care, medication management, assistive technologies and offsite information systems delivery.

CombiTel the IPTV experts also made an appearance, showcasing the latest aged care edition of their Omniscreen Pilot software, a versatile entertainment, information and digital signage solution designed for the aged care industry. Their Omniscreen Software was shown to effectively provide residents with an easy-to-use, engaging and empowering information and entertainment system, which improves aged care living experience.

Six awards were handed out at the conference for "Innovative approaches and ICT solutions that embrace and demonstrate a focus on improving the lives of the aged and people living with disabilities," and the winners demonstrated the potential of digital technologies to support the goals of service quality and independence.

Two companies tied for the overall winner of the IT Awards:

- Hayylo, which has developed a customer experience platform integrated, customised and purpose built for aged, disability and home health care service providers;

- CareApp, which has developed an iOS/Android app and web browser that together enable collaboration across an individual’s support network that might include family, care teams, volunteers, service providers, friends and neighbours.

They were just two of the many entrants, highlighting the enormous potential of IT to improved aged care and the lives of old people.

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