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A new approach to education

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Simavita wireless sensor technology

Additional training can place a burden on a health institution for a short period, but ongoing education is a necessary part of the job. Nina Hendy speaks to a company rolling out new technology to find out what it’s been like educating already experienced nursing staff.
Medical companies invest millions of dollars a year training frontline nursing staff across various sectors. And while nurses leaving their post to undertake training can be a big strain on even well-staffed health institutions, the process also gives nurses the chance to hone their skills.
Award-winning Australian medical technology company Simavita has been rolling out wireless sensor technology in aged care facilities across the country since last year. It also plans to commence the roll-out of new technology next year.
CEO Philippa Lewis says education is a crucial, albeit expensive, part of the process. “The education process definitely represents a high cost for the company,” she says.
Simavita, which is a public unlisted company, has invested a ‘significant six figure sum’ in training for the SIM technology so far. The money has been spent on training materials, classroom training, user guides, web-based training and for the training of seven nurses to work with each aged care centre during the roll-out phase of the SIM technology.
SIM helps improve the cost efficiency of an aged care facility and enhances the quality of life for aged care residents. The company has created a tiny wearable sensor that continuously monitors, analyses and reports incontinence patterns back to their caregiver during a 72 hour assessment period.
The status of each resident is sent to a smart phone via text message so the caregiver knows when residents need attention, which allows clinicians to create individual incontinence management plans for each resident. This replaces the manual method of checking residents for incontinence and is accurate and scientific. The technology is now being used at 40 sites across Australia, saving several manual assessments a day.
Lewis says that incontinence among aged care residents create a range of medical problems and accounts for around 30 per cent of the cost of managing an aged care facility in manual labour and also the constant cleaning of linen. Most residents of aged care homes suffer from incontinence and it is often the reason they enter aged care facilities, which is expensive and deprives residents of privacy and dignity, Lewis says.
“Training is about change management. It’s all part of rolling out new technology and we are up-skilling aged care workers considerably along the way.”
But educating nurses isn’t always a straight-forward process, Lewis says. “I think there will always be a natural rejection or fear of new things and there will always be a cohort that would like things to go back to the old ways. However the uptake of technology as a society and the fact that it is available to everyone now certainly has made the introduction of our technology far easier. Trying to introduce this technology five or six years ago would have been far more difficult.
“Having said that, this technology has been developed in conjunction with aged care workers – not boffins in a laboratory. As a result, it’s extremely straight-forward and user-friendly and has been well accepted by staff.”
It doesn’t take much training for a nurse to realise the benefits, Lewis adds.
Nursing staff appreciate that the SIM technology increases job satisfaction and frees them up to tend to other patients, making them quick to embrace the technology.
Simavita believes its SIM technology will have global appeal, which will add significantly to the cost of education and training regimes in new countries.
However, tut the company’s world first technology has tapped into a lucrative market. It estimates the cost of incontinence at $1.2 billion a year, saying it afflicts 1.5 million Australians of all ages.
Simavita’s focus for the next few years is to establish the domestic Australian market, as well as to be the first to market in Europe and the US by building a global distribution network. And along the way, the company will continue to invest in education. “We see the investment of training to be an ongoing part of our business,” Lewis says.
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