Top three challenges in implementing a new system within the Aged Care sector and how to overcome these challenges
Aged Care and Retirement Village facilities, no matter the size, need to keep innovating to keep up with this dynamic and ever-changing market. By taking a step away from manual records and a step towards electronic records, a great opportunity arises to increase productivity and efficiency, and improve innovation through different areas within your organisation.
Here are some of the significant challenges that may arise when implementing a new system in the Aged Care sector and how to overcome them:
- Staff adoption
- Systems and procedures
- Ongoing training and support
One key aspect of successful software implementation is your staff. In many cases, staff dislike change and prefer to keep operating the way they previously have. You will hear comments like “We have always done it this way, and it has worked, why change a good thing?.” Getting the team on board is imperative for a smooth transition and successful software implementation.
Throughout the implementation process, you will need to encourage and educate staff about the new technology that you are introducing, and the benefits this new technology can offer them — emphasising their job and day to day tasks will become easier is a great starting point. Transparency with your staff throughout the implementation process encourages them to be more engaged, which results in a positive attitude and a willingness to learn the new system as well.
Due to an ageing workforce some staff may resent change, be nervous about the use of new technology or struggle to transition from working with paper files to electronic files. It is crucial to assign a staff member to be an internal expert and advisor for other staff members in the organisation. Having a staff member as the main point of contact for members of the team who are struggling creates a sense of community and a positive mindset throughout this period.
“The staff are really engaged in completing their progress notes and doing their charts. We thought it was going to be a barrier for them, but it’s really attractive to them and they love to get out their tablet and put their notes in.”
Systems and procedures
Moving from paper to electronic filing brings a lot of efficiencies to any organisation but specifically aged care facilities. During the implementation process, all content and information that is recorded and stored in paper files will need to be available and documented in electronic files instead.
Consistent presentation of content that is currently available in paper files needs to be available in the electronic records — giving staff a sense of familiarity when they are beginning to learn and use the new system. Having consistent systems restricts disruption and allows for a smooth transition, resulting in staff embracing the new system throughout the transition period rather than rejecting it because it looks to different and unfamiliar.
The software vendor and project team also need to ensure all processes, procedures and workflows are included and maintained in the electronic system as intended. The combination of knowledge between the vendor’s industry experience and project teams operational expertise should be utilised and ensures all processes, procedures and workflows are managed within the electronic system as intended.
“Transitioning from paper files to electronic files brings a lot of efficiencies for us. It means we can access data and information from anywhere at any time.”
Facility Manager, Elmswood Court
Ongoing training and support
Training should be the first concern for organisations implementing a new system but, unfortunately, that is not always the case. When moving away from a paper-based system to an electronic system, there may be some push back or resistance from employees who have been in your organisation for a long time and are happy with the current system and how everything works.
Ongoing training is an excellent opportunity to develop employees understanding of the software and provide ongoing support if it is required. Some staff members will pick up the system straight away and will not require much assistance, whereas others will need a little more help once the system is up and running.
Supporting all staff members so that they feel comfortable and confident using the new system is imperative, and in turn, they feel valued in the organisation. Staff who frequently struggle with change tend to be staff members from older generations who lack basic computer skills, and the thought of using technology may scare them. Some of these staff members may have never even used a computer or tablet before.
Communicating ongoing training opportunities and support will reassure staff that they have the help they need – emphasising that individuals are not left on their own if they are not comfortable using the new system.