Update for older people and carers – Aged care Data and Digital Strategy

This webinar provides information to older people and their carers on the Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy, to be launched in 2024. We are seeking feedback on the strategy which describes a vision and an action plan for data and digital to improve care and wellbeing of older people.

Health sector
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Webinar recording and slides


Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy

Tuesday, 7 November 2023

Presented by:


Josh Maldon

Assistant Secretary, ICT Strategy Business Assurance Branch, Department of Health and Aged Care


Fay Flevaras

First Assistant Secretary, Digital Transformation and Delivery Division

Mark Booth

Principal, Nous Group

Margaret Walsh OAM

Member of the Aged Care Council of Elders

[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy’, ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘www.health.gov.au’]

[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]

Josh Maldon:

Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for attending today’s webinar. And happy Melbourne Cup day. I’m Josh Maldon from the Department of Health and Aged Care and I’m going to be hosting the event. And hopefully this is well worth it. We might just let you off the hook a few minutes early so you can actually capture the race that stops the nation. But really appreciate you tuning in today.

So to kick it off today I did want to begin with an acknowledgment of country. So I want to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the lands on which we are virtually meeting today. The speakers and I are based in Canberra on the lands of Ngunnawal and the Ngambri people so I want to acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and contribution they make to the life of this city and the region and also extend that acknowledgment and respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here with us today.

So really excited to connect with you towards the end of another really busy, busy year in aged care and present to you where we’ve gotten up to with the draft Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy. You’re going to hear from a range of speakers including myself. We’ve got Mark Booth, the Principal at Nous Group who undertook the engagement and spoke to many of our stakeholders and helped to work with us to develop the Strategy on behalf of the Department. We’re also really privileged to be joined by Margaret Walsh who is from the Ministerially appointed Council of Elders who will also offer her perspective on the opportunities that we have in the space. And one of our favourites. We have Fay Flevaras who makes all the things happen from the Digital Transformation and Delivery Division. She’ll be joining in for our question and answer at the end of the webinar.

So if you’ve got questions you’ve got the Slido box up there to the right hand side so please lodge them in there. We will attempt to respond to as may as we can during the end of the webinar. Any ones that we don’t get to we will make sure that we pull together a Q&A sheet and circulate that so that we can get to all your questions. There’s no option for attendees to turn on their video or microphone during the webinar, the presentation piece. The session will be recorded and uploaded onto the website along with the slides. But because we’ve got a smaller group we do want to bring people up to the stage to ask questions and have a more interactive session with you than we usually do which we’re pretty excited about doing. So please make sure your camera is on and sound turned on and what we’ll do is we’ll invite you to come up and present that question and have a bit of a question and answer session with us. We’re also going to be running some polls during the webinar so please feel free to engage in it, share your thoughts with us. We’re always looking to improve the experience for you all.

I did want to provide some context just before I hand over to Mark who will look at the detailed consultation process that they undertook in that space and just reorientate us. So this is something that did come out of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and one of the key things that emerged from that is this need to shift the aged care system to truly put older people at its centre. We’re channelling that thinking. We’re channelling that thinking in this Strategy. And this is where we want to hear from you as to what the actual steps look like to best do this. Because we do want to deliver the highest, best possible quality care for older Australians while also driving a sustainable and productive care and support economy through data and digital innovations.

I did want to emphasise from the outset that we’re not mandating digital channels. That’s certainly a concern that we get from time to time. But we do want to put older people – give them an experience with an innovative system that puts them at the centre, a system that’s coordinated, consistent across all care settings that they receive, making sure that it is modern, quality care. We need a system that’s well governed so older people can feel confident in navigating it and having the technology, system and tools that are used to support care backed by standards and frameworks that protect and promote wellbeing. We’ll always continue to have those face to face supports. So Services Australia service centres. We have a general My Aged Care service offer where all Services Australia staff are trained on aged care matters. We actually have aged care service officers who provide a more detailed service from financial information to referral to an assessment. We have the My Aged Care Contact Centre which can provide information and support over the phone. We have care finders, the Elder Care Support Program and advocates.

Again we’re really turning our minds to making sure people don’t fall through the gap with this Strategy. We need to make sure that the most vulnerable people who need support to access aged care services can do so effectively.

I do want to highlight to you that this is a draft Strategy and we’re absolutely looking for your feedback to shape the next steps. We want your input to design the Strategy and the pathway for Government and also sector investments in digital solutions. We do want to be clear on the pain points with you and how we best move to address these. We need you to help us identify those actionable steps that we can take forward and create the biggest outcome. So we want to hear from you about how we can best use the Strategy and also how we can do this to join up the care and support economy. We have heard that it isn’t just about aged care but we do need to be conscious this is about people and it’s about people delivering and receiving Government funded services which go beyond aged care to disability, to Veterans. We also need to be really connected up with the health system as well.

So if you’ve had the opportunity to read the draft Strategy we’re also going to throw a link in the chat there and it will available. So please review. You have until the 20th of November to provide us with feedback. So at that point I might hand over and introduce Mark Booth who led our stakeholder engagements. Mark take it away.

Mark Booth:

Thank you very much Josh for that introduction and good afternoon to everybody. It’s been a real privilege actually working on this piece of work and it’s been great working with the Department and all of the stakeholders that we talked to. And I think if there’s one thing that the engagement process has really shown us it is that there is a huge amount of interest in data and digital across all areas of the aged care sector and everybody was really welcoming and forthcoming with their inputs.

So the Strategy that’s been developed is underpinned completely by the consultation and research with older people, their carers and stakeholders who are involved directly or indirectly in the care of older people. In terms of the consultations over 400 people took part. They ran from late 2022, so this time last year I think we were starting them, and went through to September of this year. People participated either as part of small focus groups, in one on one interviews or through existing groups and forums.

The consultations highlighted as we expected a system that was really under pressure. We were very conscious of the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with ongoing staffing shortages and low morale in the system. In addition many stakeholders talked to us about the complexity of a system with many service delivery models that cover many disparate population groups across the country. Having said that many stakeholders, the majority of stakeholders could see the benefits in improving data and providing digital solutions to the issues that they were facing.

I’d like to just briefly talk through a few of the themes that were identified during the consultation process. First of all there’s a high level of willingness to use new technologies however the lack of learning opportunities, appropriate technical support and user friendliness do pose some barriers especially for older people, their carers and also for workers in the aged care sector. Maintaining the ability to choose between digital and non-digital channels and to make choices about the ways to engage with aged care is vital for older people and their support networks. A key role of the Strategy needs to be to provide guidance and clarity across the sector to allow all groups to understand the direction of focus for data and digital care.

Access and affordability are key drivers of engagement with digital health solutions and many people highlighted that specific targeted and appropriate funding is a prerequisite to the greater adoption of many digital technologies. In addition to the funding targeted education and training is required in order to facilitate an uplift in the digital literacy and capability of older people, service providers and aged care workers. It’s fair to say that the number of digital systems in use has expanded dramatically in recent years and to ensure the effectiveness of these systems and new systems as they come along the focus needs to be on user friendly, simple and fit for purpose digital solutions. Digital technologies have to be used to make the provision of care simpler and easier. New systems cannot add complexity and administrative overhead. What we are looking for is automation and streaming of non-care tasks to be key to generating efficiencies across the sector.

And of course finally a key thing that came out is that greater consistency and unification within the sector and as Josh mentioned in his introduction with other sectors outside of aged care is really necessary. Digital foundations need to enable interoperability to reduce complexity and enable more continuous care.

So just moving on the Strategy that’s been developed, its associated vision and outcomes have been aligned with data and digital across health and aged care. Importantly we’re aligning our approach to support the broader care and support community economy including disability services and Veterans care. This is because aged care as you all know does not stand alone. This alignment will bring aged care and health data and digital systems closer together for example adopting the same data standards so that we can more easily share information across those sectors. We purposely positioned our Strategy to be a companion strategy to the draft Commonwealth Digital Health Blueprint. Together these two documents set out the future for data and digital in aged care and health and both seek to strengthen continuity of care.

And also we have of course collaborated with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to leverage their expertise in aged care data and also with the Australian Digital Health Agency who lead national digital health programs.

So thank you for that Josh and I’ll hand back over to you now.

Josh Maldon:

Lovely. And here it is, the great unveiling that you were missing Melbourne Cup potentially for. This is the Strategy that we’ve got here on a page and this effectively reflects what we heard from people and that the vision and the intent needs to be about delivering the highest quality person-centred care for older people while also driving a sustainable and productive care and support economy through data and digital innovations. So it’s not lost on us that one of the key things that we’re going to have to deal with as an aged care system is the ageing population that we have and continuing to ensure the sustainability of those services which using data and digital we have better opportunities to actually overcome some of those barriers.

So beneath the vision we’ve got the guiding principles and the guiding principles again, these reflected things that we heard. Person-centred design, at the heart of this are people, tell us once. We don’t want to have to keep repeating our story. We want that interoperability and connectivity piece. Integrated again across multiple different service types, across systems. Diverse because people are individuals and so making sure that we cater to that context is critical. Care focused. What are the opportunities here particularly the interoperability between both the aged care and the healthcare system. And trusted was something that also came up as really important.

So when you look across to outcomes you can see that the vision feeds into the principles which then feeds into the outcomes and then beneath that we then headed out into strategic priorities. So the outcomes we’re looking to achieve are that older people and their support networks can navigate and actively participate in their care and wellbeing. Second outcome was about other people in the system, our aged care workers, our service providers, health professionals. How do we digitally empower them to provide high quality care, better connected care? Then outcome three, again really important in this day and age, that we share and reuse data securely with consent and that we use it in a sensible way as stewards of the system to develop a sustainable aged care system that we’re continuously working on to improve. And outcome four is about modern data and digital foundations. So actually what is the Government to start to spec out what conformance system looks like to underpin a collaborative standard-based care system so people can start to build to these things with a higher degree of certainty.

The priorities. Again there’s a really deliberate line of sight and then beneath the priorities we want to talk to you a bit more about the actions. But for us it was really important that we wanted to use data and digital to actually promote healthy ageing, independence and choice outside of what we consider the aged care system before even the need arises for people to receive aged care. Again simplified, user-friendly experiences. We can always look to further improve there and engaging people in that conversation is critical. Maximising time for direct care. So one of the things we heard is the more we can make the delivery of care, the reporting of compliance obligations and those things easier and simpler for aged care providers the more face to face care people can provide and deliver better outcomes for people.

Strengthening care connections again across systems but also within providers themselves. And then we move through to improving security and access controls, optimising data collection and utilisation. And then how do we work towards building and embedding data and digital maturity. And that’s across everybody, everybody who’s using the technology, whether an older Australian, someone helping them access it, a carer, an aged care worker or a health clinician, all the different people there that we need to consider. And where we encourage innovation and provide stewardship – and this is where we want to hear what your ideas are for innovation. Where do you see the potential opportunities? We do want to be bold. We do want to be ambitious with this particular Strategy.

So if we move onto the next slide and we’ll just unpack it in a little bit more detail. So person-centred. So again this is about the selection, the design, the implementation, making sure that all initiatives are focused on the benefits they achieve for older people. As I said from the outset that’s where we’re really trying to channel that message that came through loud and clear from the Royal Commission.

The tell us once principle is something that we’ve heard from a range of different people. So how do we reuse that information, how do we share it across systems so people only have to tell it once? How can we store it securely in the right place at the right time? How do we take the burden off the older person to repeat that story so we’re actually providing a more joined up approach?

Being trusted. Again something that came out really, really clearly particularly with some of the really high profile data breaches that we’ve had. We’ve got to secure people’s information. Privacy is absolutely critical in this day and age and so making sure that we’re using contemporary based systems and that people have confidence and trust in this is going to be absolutely critical.

Care-focused is the next one. And again it’s things like how do we actually alleviate the burden for frontline workers? How do we assist them to deliver that frontline routine care that then benefits the older Australian? So what are the tools, the processes that we can use from a visual and data perspective that can [0:18:10]? Again diverse. This is something that we’ve talked about before in many of these webinars is understanding that everyone isn’t [0:18:20] and so making sure that during implementation of these initiatives how do we actually tailor our approach to make sure that we are best catering to people’s individual needs? That’s something that we need to deeply understand. We want to make sure that no change negatively impacts any demographics due to ignorance. And this is one thing we’re really passionate about in the Department is this concept of digital inclusion. And one thing I want to make really clear is that part of this digital strategy is not about mandating those channels. We will always have those face to face supports. But this is about catering for the people who choose to use these digital forums.

Again the last one is that integrated piece. So again aged care, healthcare, Veterans, disability, social services more broadly. How do we actually start to harmonise the delivery of Government services for [0:19:21] with a human-centred design approach. So we might jump to the next slide.

So this is just something that’s illustrating that older people are genuinely at the centre of this and what we want to achieve through the Strategy is we do want to be bold, we do want to be ambitious. We want to understand from you what the actions look like, what we can do to improve things for older Australians but also the different people that are supporting the aged care system and people navigate that and receive care. So service providers, the broader healthcare workforce, aged care assessors, the aged care workforce is going to be really important.

And so what we might do now is I’ll move towards introducing Margaret Walsh who again we’re incredibly gracious for having join us from the Ministerial appointed Council of Elders where they’re doing really great work again to help shape aged care policy and provide advice to Government. This is one of those things where we’re constantly looking at how we can better engage with people from a human-centred design perspective and the advice Margaret has been providing in that capacity has been absolutely critical. So Margaret I did want to say a really big thanks to you for joining us today. And I wanted to ask you from your perspective what’s the most important thing that you would like to see this Strategy achieve?

Margaret Walsh OAM:

Thanks Josh. Thanks for having me and good to see you again. Yeah. The most important thing to me is to get a better aged care system. And that’s what I’ve been working on for the last two years on the Council of Elders and this is all part of it. And it is one of my hobbies is the Digital Strategy and getting people online. I mean long before the Council of Elders I’ve been working towards trying to get people online which is quite frustrating. But I see that this Strategy and the outcomes that you’ve set all are working very much towards providing that better aged care. So it’s really good news.

Josh Maldon:

Look thanks for that. This is one of the things that Mark mentioned. We know that digital isn’t the end all and be all for all people but at the same time we have heard that there is appetite for people to be picking up these technologies. They can actually help stay connected. There’s a range of different applications and those sorts of things and so understanding the opportunities to help build capability in this space are going to be absolutely critical.

I did want to ask what’s the most important thing that you think this could achieve? What would you like to see? If you were to see something coming out of this what is it that you would recommend for us to consider?

Margaret Walsh OAM:

I think it’s stimulating the interest and motivation of we older people – I call us the oldies – to get involved in the digital age. And it’s not just for My Aged Care and aged care but for general use. And it’s the digital age that’s coming and we’ve got to make sure that the oldies are aware that they’ve got to be in it. There’s a lot of examples that people have been telling me about. I mean even just this week in Perth we’ve got a lot of fires. The only way of getting the information is really digital. So people need to be online. I visited an aged care facility recently and they’ve got brilliant monitoring of the individuals and communication with the individuals, and they can know if someone’s gone to the wrong area, they’re getting out the front door when they shouldn’t have been going out there, or they’ve fallen in the bathroom. They can know from the digital monitoring which is really brilliant. Just getting prescriptions through telehealth is really useful. And the monitoring, the health monitoring that we can have done these days by wearing a watch or even we did some testing at the weekend for our daughter in testing sleep studies all digitally. And she could watch it on her phone. So it’s the way of the future.

And I mean the other things are even my husband signs out the granddaughter from school and has to do it on an iPad, and he’s laboriously tapping away and the ten year old pops in and does it for him in a couple of seconds. So I mean that’s another good one. In Perth we’ve also got what they call safe and found which is run by the police. So that’s another way that health can integrate with the police for this for the safe and found where older people can be registered. And we’ve had a lot of examples just recently where the older people have gone missing but they’ve been found really quickly because they’ve been registered on the safe and found.

Josh Maldon:

I love that. I love such good opportunities. Like as you say the potential uses are pervasive but also what you just put in my head, and I reckon that sounded really cool, is the opportunity to actually forge connections in community. So as you just described – and look it’s not dissimilar. To be honest with you my son’s already all over an iPad better than I am. And then I think about building digital capability. Actually what’s the opportunity within communities to foster those relationships and those connections? Yeah. That struck a bit of a chord.

Margaret Walsh OAM:

Actually another friend told me just today about sharing experiences. She had a lot of emails back and forth with an old friend who passed away and so my friend was able to provide all the emails and the information to her family and they could use a lot of it in the funeral. So little things like that are very practical uses of IT. And I mean that’s not related to what you’re doing with the Digital Strategy but it’s all part of enthusing people and motivating them to get online, that there’s a lot more that they can use once they get there.

Josh Maldon:

Yeah. How can we support and empower. And look there’s a range of different questions and answers that we’ll get to following our chat Margaret but what are the sorts of things that you can think of? What are the frustrations that you’ve either personally had or you’ve heard about people engaging in this space in aged care?

Margaret Walsh OAM:

We hear this all the time through the Council of Elders and most of us from our own personal use, and that’s the frustration of trying to find things. And unfortunately Government has this habit of – I think it’s some sort of protecting their own little patch, that they want to keep it on their own website. So we’ve got so many different websites. I mean we’ve got the Aged Care Engagement Hub which is where we’re told everything should be, but hey you don’t find it there. And then we’ve got the Health and Aged Care website, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the My Aged Care website, myGov. And you find bits and pieces in all these places, and I’m sure there’s lots of others that other people can tell us about where you’ll find that information, and then when you get there it’s often in a different format so you’ve got to understand how to use it.

And functions across different devices that people are using, they all work differently. The instructions might be to right click here or left click there or scroll here. If you’re on a phone or an iPad you might not be able to do some of those things. Every device has its own functions and the way it works. And something too, the bureaucratic language that’s used by most Government Departments is really, really difficult. There’s an old saying which people need to practice. KISS. The KISS principle. Keep it simple sweetheart.

Josh Maldon:

I like that. And My Aged Care – it’s interesting. So My Aged Care is meant to be that single source of truth if you like particularly for older Australians and carers. But I agree with you how you’ve just described you’ve got to go to PM&C for certain bits or some bits might still link off and so that does create this still sense of fragmentation which people are finding hard to navigate. But as you say also being conscious of are people using mobile devices or are people actually engaging on the system. It’s something that certainly Fay and I both have a personal affinity with coming up with an app but we want to make sure that it’s useful. And how do we do this across Government more broadly? And that’s something that’s also a passion I know of Fay. Because we do go out and we design these things. We design them with users but are we joining the end to end system up? Maybe there’s some more work to be done there. And I know Fay’s probably going to nod her head at me.

So yeah look that’s really useful. So I think we’ve had a question come through on the Slido that I might just read out. So what we had is:

Q:        How can older Australians like me keep learning how to understand and properly use technology as it so constantly changes and updates?

And this is something that we have heard and this is something where we want your view on what is the best way to do it. So digital literacy. Is it training modules somewhere hosted offline? Is it actually engaging in local networks? Is it potentially through rotary clubs, libraries, community banking? Where are the sorts of things that you think would be a useful point to access these particular things because that’s what we want to hear from you about how we best do it. So that will probably handle that one.

So we’ve had another question up there posted for people.

Q:        From a digital literacy training perspective what would you like to see happen?

And again this is your opportunity to give your thoughts on it and we really do welcome it.

Margaret Walsh OAM:

Actually I can make a few comments there Josh. There is a group called Be Connected already in place that have a lot of training modules and are available to do individual training for people. I don’t want to see things reinvented all the time. There’s a lot of wasted resources go into that so it would be good if they could – perhaps Be Connected can be expanded to cover what’s needed in this.

Josh Maldon:

And that’s a really good suggestion. We are looking for things that people are already across and how you can build up. Because like Margaret as you say sustainability, making sure we get maximum value for people, because we are in a really budget crisis which we’re trying to repair, that’s about smart investments. So I reckon that’s a really good suggestion for us but welcome other people’s comments on that.

And I had a question but I feel like you’ve already answered it but I’m wondering if there’s anything more. But how can we improve the user experience? And one thing that you’ve described is it certainly sounds like it’s easier access to information. But would you have other feedback about where you see the obvious benefits that we can invest in to improve the experience for people? Is it also in accessing services, or what else have you heard?

Margaret Walsh OAM:

Yeah. I think accessing services, just making appointments to go places. And just communicating. I mean I sent a message this morning to the ENT specialist that I’m trying to get an appointment with. They responded immediately which is really good. Sometimes unusual to get an immediate response. But there’s another way too and that’s a lot of websites and places have chat functions, and I find that often you can get good responses really quickly through the chat functions. You get to the actual person and they do respond. So that’s a good way. And people can share information that way, things that work for them, things that don’t work, where they can find things. All that sort of thing.

Josh Maldon:

That’s fabulous Margaret. And again I welcome people – we’ll start to move through the rest of the presentation but I hope this has been some good food for thought insofar as the question and answer session. So we might jump through just to orientate to the rest of the Strategy that we have.

So part of trying to bring this to life for people is around personas and those actual user stories of what would be a typical journey in aged care, whether it be you’re an older person, again health clinician, aged care worker, aged care provider. They’re the sorts of things that you’ll see in the Strategy in detail. And we understand that everyone’s journey is – as I said before we’re all individuals so there’s nuances and everyone’s got unique features. And so what we wanted to do was try and reflect a bit of everyone but basically highlight how the actions in the Strategy could work to improve the experience for people, again with a view to sort of prompting your ideas about where we should be investing in.

So we might just jump through to the next slide.

So as you can see here we’ve got when it comes to finding a provider you’ve got Jenny using the My Aged Care app – again me and Fay are going to shamelessly promote that but again interested in your thoughts on that – to compare providers. And this is something where people can feel empowered to choose the provider that meets their needs. We do know that the older population is using smartphones and smart technologies at increasing rates and so that is something that we certainly want to explore through this process.

As you can see in this particular user journey this is something where Jenny begins to receive the care, she’s got a care plan and she’s able to access modern, assistive technology of her choice. And again pleased to know that workers know her story and can then adapt.

If we jump through.

This is where it starts to get interesting for us. So before we move into the question and answer I want to give you some further detail around the outcome strategic priorities and again those particular identified actions. These are the things we’ve heard. So these aren’t things that are set down in concrete. The purpose of the actions is to actually get people to think about where things are that will give us the most benefit. And so we can reflect people’s experience and views on these particulars in a sort of true pro design fashion. But again here you can see progress against the first outcome. It involves increases in availability, accessibility and usefulness of data and the priorities to achieve these particular things are promoting healthy ageing, independence of choice. Again how can we do that outside of the system and how do we create simplified user experiences through this process.

So if we jump through to the next animation. Again these are the sorts of action areas that we’ve heard. So is it an ageing well application? And these are some things that we’ve seen already out there that are pretty cool. They allow people well before they need to access aged care, where they are in respect of their life curve, their journey, where there’s strengths, where there’s opportunities, how to link into some of the practical supports that are already around them. There’s also digital health literacy training. We’ve had the idea of an assessment booking. Picking up on something you just said Margaret how can we make things easier for people and [0:36:43]. And so this priority is all about supporting older people and their carers to remain independent [0:36:52].

And again the digital inclusion plan. How do we actually make sure we include as many as we can but also not exclude people. And this is where again I’ll emphasise there will always be these face to face support mechanisms. We absolutely think that they’re critical and through digital we want to help target those really precious resources as best we can to get them to the people that need them most. And so we’ve got a few ideas.

So if we jump through to the next one. You’ve got the outcome two, the strategic priorities there, again action areas. Business to Government is about automatic capture of information for My Aged Care provider systems. What that’s about is it’s about making less burden for them so they can provide more face to face aged care. And again looking at the opportunities for digital literacy, medication management, artificial intelligence, those sorts of things. So we might jump through.

Again further ideas on connecting the system. Again we’ve got to be safe, we’ve got to be secure, and so there’s a range of different ideas that we’re looking at progressing in that regard. Making sure that we’re joined up across whole of Government more broadly in this space is critical. If we jump through to the next one.

Again modern data and digital foundations to have this collaborative standards-based system. Again this is about looking at effectively getting all the different systems that are out there to talk to one another and maximise connectivity.

There we go. So we might jump up to the question and answer. So I might just see – as I said before we’d really love to invite you to come up to the stage and certainly share with us so we can have a bit more of a chat than we usually do. So I did just want to check. Now all the questions I’m looking at here. So we have Jacene Wiseman. Is that something Jacene – I just wanted to check are you comfortable with coming up to the stage and asking a question? And then I might jump to Susanne who’s got two questions, three questions there, and we can talk through those.

Margaret Walsh OAM:

Josh in the meantime can I just add some little advice to the Government and to you which I put in the feedback. All things that we read needs to be quick and easy to find, not too complicated, simple, plain English, no bureaucratic jargon. The screens and the things we’re looking at shouldn’t be too busy. You know what I mean? Too much in one place, too many pictures, too many clicks to get where I want to. Not too many big pictures and any recordings shouldn’t be too long. We don’t want to sit having to watch things. And sorry Josh but I don’t like some of the pictures in your Strategy document. They’re too busy and complicated. And I’ve had a few other comments on those. Yeah. So they’re just a few little things that I’ve picked up in the last day while I’ve been thinking about this.

Josh Maldon:

Margaret that’s brilliant feedback. This is what we do need to hear because that way we can always continuously improve. So we always value that. I mean look I do love a picture I must confess. But to me what you said that really hit home is keep it simple sweetheart. And what you’re telling me is you want to be able to access the information you want as rapidly and in as simple format as you can and that’s how we’re actually going to start to break down what is a really complex system.

All right. Jacene I can see you there with us. Did you want to ask your question?

Online Audience Member:

Yeah. What do I do?

Josh Maldon:

You’re ready. You’re live. You can ask the question now.

Online Audience Member:

So one of my questions is that when we’re dealing across such a broad spectrum of different phones and the escalating scammers and hackers and not knowing if someone’s tech savvy, if there’s some way that there could be an indication of yes you need to upload the latest patch or yes you need to increase this or do that? It basically means we know that we haven’t exposed our client to risk. It means that the client’s also learning how to do that so that they’re up to speed and they’re passing on that learning to others and it has that wider application across the whole of life approaches, especially things like banking and bill paying and things like that. But to have that one simple prompt that says okay we need to do this first.

Josh Maldon:

Yeah. And it’s got to be trusted from a trust and support because you get the link and you’re like hang on. So I completely agree. Fay have you got any reflections in that space? This is so topical.

Fay Flevaras:

I’m already thinking out loud here now. So look we do it internally for our own workforce. So we go there’s a patch. You must get to this one because we’ve found a vulnerability. I’ve never really thought about extending that service beyond our boundary of the Department. It’s definitely a good idea. I’ll have to take that one and put it on the list and actually kind of just investigate a little bit about how we would do that. So we could definitely put it up on a website to go we recommend that for an iPhone, and then we’d have to list, depending on if it’s an iPhone 10, 13, 15. They’re different kind of things. Or if you’ve got an Android you should be at this thing. But likewise Josh and I have been exploring whether we want to have a client app and if we had something like that we could then send a notification from the app. But I think in the first instance let’s see if we can just do something that we can just put it up on our website at least.

Online Audience Member:

To me that sounds fabulous. Thank you. And it’s certainly the idea also too of a client app because we’re using those more and more for the interface and engagement, and being that trusted app you’re bound to get far more traction I think. And I think that makes a huge difference.

Fay Flevaras:

We’ve also been thinking about having the app and then you go well who’s the family that needs to be connected that’s been the nominee or an advocate or – and so that way we could notify all of them. So even if the elderly Australian themselves potentially – but then others know about it as well. So we’re definitely trying to figure out how do we get connected. I really liked your feedback Margaret about the look and feel kind of thing. I’m really curious about colours as well. I have a big thing about colours.

Margaret Walsh OAM:

No dark backgrounds. White writing. Rule that out.

Fay Flevaras:

Thanks for that Margaret.

Josh Maldon:

So Margaret I have to confess Fay told me about – Fay’s laughing because she told me I needed to change it to white.

Fay Flevaras:

I think contrast is important. Not too cluttered. And then how do we stay connected and communicated. I mean these are very topical, front of mind discussions that Josh and I have on the regular. And so just trying to understand what’s most important to you guys so we can do things first and in what order.

Josh Maldon:

Yeah. Exactly. Thanks Fay and thank you Jacene. That was a really good question. I might throw to Susanne. You’re up on the stage and so if you’re ready to go we’d love to hear your question.

Might be on mute there. I can’t tell.

Fay Flevaras:

No. She’s not on mute. I think we’d be able to see it. She might just have an audio issue with the speaker.

Online Audience Member:


Josh Maldon:

Hello. We can hear you.

Online Audience Member:

And I don’t know why my video’s not working because there doesn’t seem to be any tool to turn the video on. I’ve really tried. Anyway.

Josh Maldon:

All right. Susanne fire away.

Online Audience Member:

I’m really old too and I’m in Western Australia, and to me a lot of my group are online all the time. For example I’m one of these median women of my age, 76 or in that baby boomer group, that I was homeless for ten years and I now live in assisted housing and almost entirely on the pension. So being online is really, really important to someone like me when I’m old because it does give me a few little opportunities to make a tiny bit of extra money doing some things that I really enjoy, like this for example, and that I value, that I find real value in giving back to my community which I’ve always tried to do because that was the way my family were, and that I think has got value, enduring value. And plus I see that it has got value because sometimes I get a little bit of money out of it. And even though it then becomes a nightmare with Centrelink to explain that I casually get money here and there without a payslip etcetera, and that’s where you really see how the internet cruels us. When you go physically as I did yesterday, take yourself into Centrelink, and they cannot actually comprehend what you’re talking about because you don’t have something online or a piece of paper that confirms that you’re working for someone 9:00 to 5:00 three days a week or something, which you’re not of course.

So I think this is a wonderful thing. I’m terribly enthusiastic about it. A wonderful matter. And I really wish you very well here in terms of the community. My suggestion to you is that education is the key for our group, the baby boomer group particularly, because number one that’s how we all succeeded and enjoyed our lives and learned things, and we’re familiar with it. Even though we’re not particularly familiar with these modes we are really familiar with the education and its values. And number two, it’s a kind of key isn’t it to the door because if you can present a certificate, even though you’re 85 or 90, and say look what I did last week, people look at you in a totally different way. And I think that’s fine, if you get what I mean, because as we all age particularly now in the modern world we’re in an entirely new environment that we just – it’s really like being on Mars in a lot of ways. So to be healthy and happy and productive and make a little bit of money so maybe you can go and put your feet in a spa somewhere some time, is a really great thing for the old and it keeps us healthy in mind and body. Thank you.

Josh Maldon:

Thanks Susanne. I think everyone agrees with you. And to me how do you start to build out communities of practices and those sorts of things. It sounds like you’re involved with a pretty engaged bunch of people and how do you pick that up and invite that to other people. Because as you say that’s how we learn. We learn together as a community and that’s how we best learn, is from people we trust and know. So there’s something in that for us to take away I think. So thank you Susanne. Really, really well made points. Thank you.

Online Audience Member:

My pleasure.

Josh Maldon:

We had a Susan as well. Susan did you want to come up and ask a question or alternatively I might go through some of these. There are some anonymous ones that we’ve got which I can quickly address some. So for example we have:

Q:        How do you make a provision for elders with deteriorating hearing, vision, memory? There’s no provision for tactile interfaces.

And to me that goes to the possibilities in assistive technology and that space. So we definitely know there is opportunity in the hearing space. Certainly more lately I’ve come across some actual artificial intelligent apps and things like that that are actually picking up based on your own unique needs, those sorts of things, triggers for your memory. And so I think there are applications and so if you’ve seen applications I think that’s something that I want you to raise with us because we’re certainly thinking about it. There’s certainly been a theme also across the question of who pays, paying for these things. And there’s a cost of living crisis. That can be a barrier. That’s something I did want to let you know that we have heard and it’s something we will have a conversation with Government about. And this is something I’ve got to be really clear on expectation, that Government has to make decisions here but I want to assure you that we’ve heard you and we’ll certainly relay that to Government that that is a barrier. And so if we want to consider removing that barrier we need to think about how we best deal with that.

Fay Flevaras:

Josh you may want to add as well that we do also recognise that in rural and regional getting digitally connected is also a different type of challenge as well. So we’re looking at it holistically around how do you connect, what tools do you need to connect and then what education do you need to be able to get the value out of that.

Josh Maldon:

Yeah. Completely agree with you. No. Well made comments Fay. And look we might start to wrap up. I might just see whether Fay either yourself or Margaret, either of you have any closing comments that you’d like to make and I’ll look to wrap it up so no one misses the race, the race that stops the heart of the nation.

Fay Flevaras:

I have nothing to add.

Margaret Walsh OAM:

A question that my husband raised this morning. How can oldies be confident that the Government is looking after me if they can’t look after their own data and have breaches? And Government and businesses. We’ve heard of so many breaches lately so how can we be confident that they’re looking after us?

Josh Maldon:

Yeah Margaret. It’s absolutely something that we’ve heard loud and clear that if we’re to take advantage of a lot of the opportunities that we have with both data and digital we need to be able to safeguard the data and we’ve got to be able to relay that confidence onto you. And so that’s something that certainly we’ll be considering as Government. Because look unfortunately we are in a day and age where some of these things, attacks and things like that, cyber attacks can be quite pervasive. But I want to reassure you that we’ve heard it. Government is absolutely committed to the protection of the data and making sure that it’s ahead of the curve with the best practiced methods of doing so and again how do we communicate that out to people so we can give people the confidence they need too. So I just want to say Margaret we’ve heard that loud and clear and we’ll have a think about how we best deliver that confidence.

Margaret Walsh OAM:

I personally am quite confident because I believe and I know and understand the Government is spending a lot of money on this. So they’re really trying to get it right and they’re getting ahead of a lot of the other people that aren’t spending any money on it.

Josh Maldon:

All right. Look thank you so much for your time. So far as next steps are concerned we do have the Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy out there for your comment. Please feel free to send your feedback through by the 20th of November to the website that we have there. If you’d like to have a separate conversation me and my team are always available and happy for you to flick us a note to that effect. Subject to Government agreement – and I have to emphasise that Government has to agree to this – is they’d be looking to launch the Strategy around December and that would be looking at also the first year’s action plan showing the demonstrable steps we’ll be taking towards the Strategy. And that’s something we’d look to refresh annually given how quickly things can change in this space.

So look thank you so much for your time and I look forward to connecting with you all soon. Take care everyone.

[End of Transcript]



  • Josh Maldon – Assistant Secretary, ICT Strategy Business Assurance Branch, Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Fay Flevaras - First Assistant Secretary, Digital Transformation and Delivery Division
  • Mark Booth – Principal, Nous Group
  • Margaret Walsh OAM – member of the Aged Care Council of Elders

About the webinar

The strategy underpins our broader aged care reform agenda and recognises that trusted, timely and accessible use of digital and data can improve the care and wellbeing of older people.

While older people and their carers are at its centre, the strategy is also for aged care workers, assessors, health clinicians, service providers and technology vendors that supply software to these providers.

This webinar provides information on the:

  • background of the strategy
  • approach, process and consultations conducted to develop the strategy
  • key outcomes and focus areas proposed under the strategy
  • actions proposed to achieve the outcomes
  • next steps.

The draft strategy is currently available online. Webinar attendees are invited to submit feedback regarding the draft strategy before it is launched formally in December 2023.

Please send feedback on the strategy to digitalreformstrat@health.gov.au until 20 November 2023.

Aged care Data and Digital Strategy

Aged care Data and Digital Strategy

This report provides information to aged care workers, assessors, health clinicians and the broader sector on the Aged Care Data and Digital strategy which is scheduled to be launched in 2024.


To keep up to date about upcoming webinars, subscribe to our aged care sector announcements and newsletters.

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