(external link)A group of Tui Ora staff is helping to redefine 'mobile services' in an IT project to test new technology out on the road. Funding from the TSB Community Trust is helping pay for equipment, training and other resources.
Kaimahi from different parts of the organisation were recently given a variety of mobile phones, laptops and tablets to see what worked best in their role.
The IT tools are part of a wider Tui Ora project to test the new primary client care system called Whānau Tahi, with critical funding provided by the TSB Community Trust.
Bridget Taylor, a clinican in the mental health team in New Plymouth, noticed a number of differences. By using a tablet she was able to handwrite notes onto a screen, with the notes translated and typed up onto the tablet. Not only that, she could dictate notes that were then automatically transcribed.
This made client visits easier.
"One of the things I liked was that there was no barrier between me and the clients; I could sit the screen on my lap, take notes but still maintain eye contact and listen to them."
Looking ahead, there's potential spinoff in use of staff time, she says. In between client appointments kaimahi can make notes and access information while details are still fresh in their mind.
Clients should see a difference in terms of quicker referrals, says Bridget. For example, she might be working with someone dealing with alcohol or drug issues. An electronic referral can take place during a client visit, through to the A & D team at Tui Ora. "It's done automatically so we don't have to chase it when we get back to the office."
There is lots still to learn about Whānau Tahi but Bridget is hopeful it can make a real difference.
"Our hopes are that we won't be so tied to our desks and we can become more strengths focused." It also sets out a series of steps for whānau and the actions that health staff can take, including the abiliy to remind them when they need to become involved.
For Sam Heath and Nadja Bernhardt who work as activity co-ordinators in the Mental Health Residential team the mobile technology provided flexiblility and better access to information on the job. If Nadja's clients suggested an activity or outing together she could surf the internet for details.
"It meant we could look up opening hours to the museum for rexample and plan an outing together."
In time, the shared database that Whānau Tahi will provide means clients, their whānau and their health workers can access the same bundle of information about progress.
"It gives clarity for example on what different services a person is using and results based information on next steps," says Sam.
Another benefit is shared calendars among colleagues meaning those back at the office can see in real time where Sam and Nadja are out on the road, and when they're due back.
* Whānau Tahi is a nationwide software tool pioneered in Auckland by the Waipareira Trust. It enables collaboration between caseworkers, whānau, and other support people to help whānau in an aspirational journey to self-sufficiency. The TSB Community Trust has provided a grant of $220,000 spread over three years.