Telstra Health’s Message Manager software has helped Donwood Community Aged Care Services to quickly and easily communicate with residents’ loved ones.

Donwood is a residential aged care provider in Victoria that supports 105 residents in a community-based, supportive environment. While effective communication has always been a priority for Donwood, they knew an electronic communications solution would help streamline their processes and strengthen their record keeping.

Natasha Wilkinson, CEO of Donwood, felt that Telstra Health’s Message Manager software would be the right solution to help them quickly and easily communicate with residents’ loved ones.

“We saw Message Manager as the perfect fit for what we were missing. It has helped us to close that gap in terms of having all communication documented in the one place,” said Natasha.

Strengthening family relationships

Donwood use Message Manager to send updates to residents’ family or friends via SMS messages and email. These updates let a resident’s loved one receive information about doctor and allied health visits, activities and excursions, and even photos of the resident enjoying their day.

“Some families live interstate or overseas, but with Message Manager, they still feel they are connected to their loved one,” said Natasha. “It also gives relatives a lead in for conversations, which can be tricky without those prompts as some residents have dementia and may not remember the activities from their day. It helps to build a stronger connection between residents and their families.”

The relationship between Donwood and residents’ family members has also improved by using Message Manager, with Natasha explaining that she has noticed an increase in positive feedback.

“I had a call from one of our relatives the other day who said, ‘I just love it. I know when my mum has had a medication change or when she’s been to the hairdresser, or even if she just needs a new nightie.’ It takes the pressure off our relatives and provides them with proactive information in a medium they are familiar with,” she said.

Benefits to staff

Donwood’s staff members have also experienced benefits from using Message Manager, with historical communication logs ensuring staff have a clear record of what communications have been sent to which family members.

“We have a lot of part-time staff and shift workers,” said Natasha. “In the past when a staff member couldn’t get onto a family member, they would have to pass that information onto staff on the next shift – and sometimes this information got lost,” she said.

“Now if staff can’t get a hold of a family member via phone, they can send an SMS via Message Manager and the next staff member has a log of what was communicated.”

Staff also found the transition to Message Manager quick and painless, with the software designed to be intuitive and simple to navigate.

“Message Manager is so easy to use. We all send text messages and emails every day, so staff were so familiar with those functions that they just picked it up and off they went. We really didn’t need any training at all,” said Natasha.

“It’s also cut down a lot of processes for my team. We work in a really busy environment, so having Message Manager to quickly send an email to multiple families at once means staff aren’t spending their time contacting individual families one by one,” she said. “Now they have a tool where they can tick a task off and move on to improving a resident’s day.”

Supporting governance and accreditation

With the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the transition to the Aged Care Quality Standards at the forefront of provider’s minds, Donwood found Message Manager an effective tool to increase transparency. 

“Message Manager has given us an added level of visibility over our historical communications,” said Natasha. “If needed, I can now confirm that a resident’s family member was sent an SMS or email and can bring that up if needed for governance purposes.”

“With the Aged Care Quality Standards and emphasis on resident choice, I can use Message Manager to share updates about a resident’s day and how their care and services are tailored to their preferences. I can give their relatives an understanding of the choices the residents have at Donwood,” said Natasha.  

Streamlining processes and data management

Prior to implementing Message Manager, Donwood had been utilising Telstra Health’s Clinical Manager software for several years. The fact that Message Manager drew on their existing clinical system data was a big draw card for Natasha.

“I love the integration between Message Manager and Clinical Manager,” said Natasha. “There is one single source of truth for family member contact information, which means we don’t have to spend all our time managing data and maintaining multiple contact lists.”  

“Message Manager enables us to be smarter, more effective and provide a better service for our residents. It’s a big tick for me.”

The is a case study only. Results will vary depending on circumstantial organisational factors, including efficient organisation implementation, and the number of modules available and implemented by the client.

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