Some of these creations were highlighted at the Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards held in Singapore on May 15.

Ryman Healthcare, which operates retirement villages throughout New Zealand, has been improving care for its residents through its own app, myRyman.

Ryman Healthcare clinical nurse specialist Victoria Brevoort. Photo/Supplied

The app, which is in run on tablets in each of Ryman’s 3500 care rooms, has been such a success that it won top prize in the Innovation of the Year Residential Care Model category at the awards.

Ryman Healthcare clinical nurse specialist, Victoria Brevoort, who was involved in setting up and designing the app, said it has been an invaluable asset for the company in terms of how much it has improved the residents’ lives.

“This has been an amazing project I’ve been quite privileged to be part of…it’s having a really positive impact.”

Caregivers and nurses log into the app whenever they go into a resident’s room and it tells them, in detail, all the tasks for a resident each day.

These could range from a haircut to spending one-on-one time with the resident or tending to multiple wounds, she said.

“The app will have specific guidelines on how to do the task and all the necessary information.”

It is easy to use and means that nurses and care staff can update care records in the room with the resident, in real time.

This enables staff to build better relationships with residents because they have more time with them without having to leave the room to do paperwork and there is less miscommunication than with previous verbal handovers.

“For our residents it has really helped with our continuity of care…even brand new staff members know how to do things for the residents and how they like it,” Brevoort said.

myRyman started out as an idea in 2015 when chief operations officer Barbara Reynen-Rose went looking for an off-the-shelf electronic system for care in the United States but couldn’t find one she liked.

The decision was taken to build Ryman’s own version which took three years to create.

“The hard thing is developing these apps in a way that is user-friendly and intuitive – and the team created something that everyone can use,”  Reynen-Rose said.

“It’s a bit like moving from a landline to using a smart phone. Once you’ve done it you never look back.’’

Residents and their families could be assured that care plans were being read and updated and everything staff needed to be aware of was there, she said.

“It’s all about people – improving care for our residents and making the job more satisfying for our care staff.”

Chief executive Gordon MacLeod said the win was great recognition for a large team who had turned an idea into reality.

“It has been a massive team effort to build our own app from scratch and turn it into something that has made a real improvement to the care of our residents.

“Not only has it done what it set out to do – get rid of paperwork – but the data we’re collecting from it means we better understand care outcomes and allow us to lift our standards of care even higher.

“We think it has huge potential, and we’re delighted all this work has been recognised.’’

Another technological advancement that has been an advantage in elder care is a wearable device which monitors conversations between staff and aged care residents.

Australian not-for-profit healthcare organisation, Bolton Clarke, won Innovation of the Year – Product category for its CaT Pin created in partnership with RMIT University researchers to target loneliness.

The device monitors baseline conversations and word count throughout the day and prompts social contact when levels drop too low.

Another of its creations, One Good Street, took out Innovation of the Year – Social Engagement Program category.

The project is an online social networking initiative that improves the lives of older people by strengthening their inclusion, partnering with care organisations to extend their reach within communities and creating connections with carers in the same neighbourhood through peer-to-peer support.

Bolton Clarke chief executive Stephen Muggleton said the organisation’s approach to valuing and prioritising innovation in practice and a focus on human-centred design enabled the development of successful technologies that benefited the elderly.

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