With the goal of providing more services, convenience and comfort for its residents, not-for-profit organisation, The Royal Freemasons' Benevolent Institution, has signed premium Telstra partner, Schepisi Communications, to implement a range of Wi-Fi and telephony solutions across its 22 locations in New South Wales.
RFBI is a retirement village and aged care centre operator. It provides assisted-living and nursing care to 2000 elderly residents across its facilities, and employs 1200 staff.
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According to Schepisi ICT solutions specialist, Ben Giblett, RFBI had previously not invested in IP telephony-related technologies, and was looking to do so in order to improve staff productivity and mobility in order to enhance the calibre of care provided to residents.
The organisation's chief information officer (CIO), Andrew Alpe, was looking to modernise the business, and had the board agree to a significant investment to implement Wi-Fi and upgrade PBX, at which point he was referred to Schepisi by Telstra.
As a result, Schepisi designed a solution containing converged and integrated wireless telephony, nurse call via SpectraLink 8400 Series handsets, clinical notes (HER), medication management, and real-time location systems on Meru WLAN and Mitel 3300 IP PBX, with a variety of 1550 and 5200 controllers with access points.
Meru was selected as the enterprise-grade wireless network-of-choice as it enables a short planning stage for deployment.
RFBI's first meeting with Schepisi took place in December 2011, with the first site deployed in March 2012 at what was the most challenging site; a 60-bed residency with 50 staff that lacked wireless technology and even DECT telephones.
"A Meru controller and 40 AP1020 access points were installed for the pilot," Alpe said. "Then the nurse call system, clinical notes and medication management systems, and new SpectraLink Wi-Fi handsets were integrated on the wireless infrastructure. We threw the staff into the deep end with the technology and the Meru network worked flawlessly."
RFBI is currently analysing the results of this implementation, documenting the outcomes for residents and staff, and evaluating additional wireless applications it may require on the Meru network.
Giblet, who designed the solution, said, "Previously, residents would have to get out of bed and walk to a nurse's station to have their medication administered. A carer can now go into a resident's room with a tablet and do that at the bedside, with access to full medical records."
As of September, Schepisi had 12 to 13 sites rolled out. Giblett expects all 22 sites to be up and running by the end of 2013.
In addition to streamlining work processes and optimising care by the staff, the Meru network allows RFBI to offer new services to residents, particularly with the changing expectations of residents that comes as a result of the transition to consumer-directed care in Australia.
Part of this is the introduction of iPads for residents to use for communicating with friends and family. When requested, staff deliver a device to the resident, at which point he or she has access to Skype and similar services.
The Meru architecture allows RFBI to layer radio-frequency channels and isolate resident and guest use of the network from the systems and applications that the staff uses in order to mitigate disruption or delay in care.