Using technology to simplify aged care placements

Wednesday, 20 March, 2024 | Supplied by: Vacant Beds

Using technology to simplify aged care placements

The aged care sector has been in a state of rapid change, experiencing an influx in technological advancements that are transforming the industry. In particular, there is a growing emphasis on efficient patient flow and discharge planning in the hospital system, and a need to alleviate stressors that contribute to ramping and bed block issues.

Statistics show in that in Australia, by 2058, the number of people over the age of 80 will triple. Additionally, of the patients aged 65 and over who present to the emergency department, 52% were subsequently admitted to hospital — compared to 29% for all patients.

However, the process of securing a suitable aged care placement for these patients and future residents is often chaotic and fragmented. For discharge nurses and social workers, the task can be a complicated one, involving countless cold calls, outdated spreadsheets and a myriad of additional variables to consider. The result is often delayed discharges and frustrated healthcare providers.

Vacant Beds has been created in an attempt to change all this. Designed in collaboration with WA Health and ACCPA and launched in Western Australia in June 2023, the one-stop central portal brings together aged care providers, offering an overview of bed availability and helping to simplify the process of finding the most appropriate aged care placement. The key goal of the technology is to provide accurate and reliable information, with 90% of the aged care sector in WA now registered.

“The WA Department of Health’s partnership with the WA aged care sector has supported an industry-led solution that is making a real difference to our hospitals and health system. Staff in hospitals now have the information on bed vacancies at their fingertips. This means patients can be supported with timely and accurate information about discharge options, improving choice and control for older patients and their families,” said Allie Adamson, Product Owner, Vacant Beds.

How Vacant Beds works:

  1. Upload: Aged care providers can conveniently upload their vacancy information via a pre-designed template into the Vacant Beds portal. This process is designed to be quick and hassle-free, saving time and effort by providing one central location to upload vacancies (free of charge).
  2. Search: Hospital service providers can then log in to the portal. They input their desired location, set a target radius and apply any relevant filters, such as specific room/care requirements. This dynamic search function ensures that the results are tailored to the unique needs of each patient.
  3. Select: Hospital staff are presented with a user-friendly and print-friendly list of the most relevant room vacancies based on their criteria. This means no more sifting through endless options that don’t quite fit the bill. It’s about finding the right match in a matter of seconds.
  4. Contact: Once the options are made visible, the hospital staff or patient’s caregivers can make direct contact with the aged care provider (RACF) using the details provided to Vacant Beds (or provide this information in a user-friendly format to the patient’s loved ones). This streamlined communication process minimises delays and ensures that the transition from hospital to aged care is as seamless as possible.

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