Clever app could protect aged care residents whilst still allowing visits

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COVID-19 has presented the aged care community, in particular, with a plethora of challenges and obstacles to overcome. With visitor restrictions introduced across a number of residential aged care facilities, the team at St Vincent’s Care Services (SVCS) needed to find a way to seamlessly book in and report visits, while still adhering to the social distancing rules.

Prue Densley, SVCS executive general manager of consumer experience, explained how in the past, no-one booked visits in advance, unless it was outside of standard opening hours.

“There was no way to capture accurate visitor numbers – everything was anecdotal. Each facility also managed their visiting processes differently, which just added to the complexity. Since COVID-19 hit, we needed a way to keep track of visitors at each site to manage the time they were spending with residents, and monitor their visits per day,” said Ms Densley.

“In the early days of COVID-19, it was difficult to keep up with the evolving regulations. Policies were often changing daily and we had to interpret and filter these new rules for aged care across three different states. Some states were changing their guidelines at different times too, so applying one regimented, national rule for visitations was very hard at the start.”

Initially, Ms Densley was determined to implement a tour booking system to unpack the experiences of new clients looking to move into the facility (or on behalf of their loved ones) and see where improvements could be made. However, with the unforeseen circumstances of the virus affecting aged care across Australia, Ms Densley knew that priorities had to change.

That’s when RateIt, a customer experience platform that captures, analyses and interprets feedback, came onto the scene.

“I could see the functionality being similar to what we needed for a visitor tracking app, so I approached RateIt for their help, so we could both report and manage our client experiences. RateIt recommended trialling a new visitor booking system called ‘Zipline’, a product they had redeveloped for us to use,” Ms Densley explained.

“We needed this type of tool to be used by both contact centre staff and reception, especially when dealing with walk-ins. Flexibility was crucial as regulations continually altered, so making sure this app also had the smarts to handle these timing changes was very important to us.”

The app was first tested in Carseldine and Maroochydore and a week later, after making some tweaks, the team tested it again throughout their Auburn, Werribee, Southport and Haberfield sites. Incredibly, after only three short weeks, SVCS was able to launch a customised booking system app across its 20 residential aged care facilities.

Zipline provides SVCS with a snapshot of visitor numbers per day and per site, helping the team plan for peak visitor periods based on the data captured. Zipline also sends an SMS to each visitor, asking for feedback. This provides real-time responses on their experience; what they loved about their visit, and what could be improved on for next time.

From this feedback, SVCS could determine a consumer experience score out of 10. At the moment, the team are hitting an admirable 8.5/10.

“This new system meant we were complying with the government’s rulings, keeping people safe and secure, and managing expectations of the families visiting. Zipline also provided state managers with complete transparency about what had been going on at each facility – this was especially handy since most had to work remotely. The app provided us with another opportunity to connect with residents’ families and help us get a sense of how they were feeling,” said Ms Densley.

“We’ve had a large number of visitors engage with our app, with many happy to be contacted to discuss their feedback further. The greatest outcome from using Zipline is understanding what our clients are feeling and thinking. For example, we recently found out that 90 per cent of our visitors think the COVID-19 safety measures we have put in place are just right – we would never have access to this type of insight in the past.”

SVCS is the very first aged care service to work with RateIt and use Zipline in its new and improved form. RateIt is now working on overlaying these metrics to provide insights into what can be done better, across the entire business. 

“Zipline has truly made a huge impact on the business and I’m sure will continue its innovation for other industries too. The CX metrics that come with Zipline have been fantastic, helping us to generate more interest and conversations around the experience of our visits. The app has enabled the team to embrace the value of feedback and improve upon our processes.” 

“I would recommend the RateIt team to anyone looking to implement CX insights into their business quickly and simply. The team are a delight to work with and have made me feel more informed and comfortable with what’s happening at each of our sites. It has been an exciting and much-needed venture that has created a space of trust and connection for our residents’ loved ones.”

Would you like to see more facilities pick up this technology?

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Written by Prue Densley



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