Anyone with experience running a business will tell you that being able to adapt to changing circumstances is one of the keys to success

In 2020, the idea of paper-based record-keeping is unfathomable for most businesses, and those entering the aged care sector from other industries are often perplexed by the continued reliance on inefficient and unreliable methods of handling information.

Recent changes to aged care standards have seen a more intense focus on the quality of care, and providers who have made the decision to embrace digitisation are finding themselves with more time to focus on the things that really matter to their residents.

While the transition has certainly not been swift, many Australian aged care providers first began to embrace the use of technology in 2005 when the Commonwealth implemented infrastructure funding for upgrades to aged care facilities.

This funding of around $1,000 per bed was used in a variety of ways, with many providers making the decision to trade in their paper-based record-keeping for software systems that provided a more efficient and accurate means of accreditation reporting.

Although the benefits of electronic management were clearly evident, the willingness to continue to embrace technology within the sector has been a slow progression that is only now being viewed as a necessity.

Recent years have seen an increasing number of providers invest in digital software that improves workflow and eliminates the glaring inefficiencies that can come with unstructured record keeping.

Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) is used to streamline the management of a facility’s relationships and interactions with consumers while digitising the rostering and medication process within a facility improves transparency and virtually eliminates mistakes.  

Facility maintenance plays a crucial role in ensuring that aged care residents live in a safe environment, and it comes as no surprise that many providers are now looking to improve the way in which they manage this process. 

Boasting decades of experience in the construction industry, Australian-based company MDFM has become the go-to company for aged care providers looking to streamline the management of maintenance within their facility.

Through the use of a software package known as a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS), MDFM enables providers to effectively maintain their assets and allocate tasks to personnel efficiently and transparently.

Community-owned aged care provider Harbison is one of many who have recently made the decision to transition to a CMMS, and MDFM Account Director, Jess Johnson, reveals that it didn’t take long for Harbison to yield positive results.

“Harbison’s maintenance team was comprised of seven full-time staff across two sites that included extensive groundskeeping,” said Ms. Johnson. 

“Like many providers, Harbison was overly reliant on their maintenance manager, meaning that situations, where he was off-site or unavailable due to sickness, had a major impact on maintenance operations.”

“Record keeping was unstructured, which meant that it could take hours to locate specific service reports. This can lead to over or under-servicing, poor decision making and of course negatively impact accreditation”

“As a provider, this can mean a lack of proof on hand when required. That information is crucial in the event that a breakdown occurs.”

When Harbison CEO David Cochran first arrived at Harbison, digitising maintenance management quickly became a top priority, as inefficiencies in this process incur costs and increase the likelihood of breakdowns.

After consulting with MDFM about exactly what Harbison needed from a CMMS, the MDFM team initiated the process with the procurement of barcodes and software licenses and prepared for an onsite audit.

Harbison had previously relied upon the memory and availability of their maintenance manager in order to locate records, but the introduction of a CMMS provided the facility with quick and easy access to important maintenance records.

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This ensured that both raised requests and preventative maintenance procedures were adhered to which often extends equipment life-cycles.

A lack of transparency became a thing of the past, as anyone with the authority to access maintenance information can view all the details regarding specific assets or raised tasks.

MDFM began the onsite asset tagging and data collection process and then quickly began importing the asset register into the CMMS along with maintenance schedules, work orders, and reports.

In March of 2019, Harbison underwent its first announced accreditation audit and the benefits of having a CMMS were clearly evident.

“The system was so efficient in accommodating the needs of auditors that within 10 minutes the auditors and staff were talking about fly-fishing instead,” said Ms. Johnson. 

Since consulting MDFM and implementing a CMMS, Harbison’s maintenance team has been able to be reduced from seven full-time staff members to four, which has allowed valuable funds to be reallocated within the facility.

Newly purchased assets now go straight into the CMMS and will have a complete purchase and service history, while care staff can now view maintenance requests within the system and get a clear indication of when they can expect individual maintenance issues to be resolved. 

According to Harbison’s Residential Service Manager, Danny Turner, the implementation of the CMMS has proven to be extremely valuable and the ongoing support from MDFM has given staff a real peace of mind.

“Having MDFM support Harbison has been very valuable, they are professional and very detailed in their approach to everything they do,” said Mr. Turner.

“Our staff can be assured that we are always being supported through times such as audits and internal demands.”

“They even monitor our after-hours maintenance management and quickly help staff find alternative solutions to the issues they are facing at that moment.”

MDFM also attends proactive improvement meetings at Harbison which allows everyone to raise concerns or suggest improvements to the process, and there has been significant improvement in the communication between care staff, the maintenance manager, and maintenance teams.

“Although having a CMMS reduces the risk of service management issues, it also simplifies the process of identifying the cause of a problem if something occurs,” said Ms. Johnson.

“No process will ever be completely perfect, but reducing the risk or error and improving safety around a facility is something that all aged care providers should be striving for.”

 

Photo credit: iStock – MartinPrescott

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