An Illawarra start-up that began life in January is the winner of a national aged care innovation award.
On Wednesday night iAccelerate based business ExSitu held off a strong field of finalists at the innovAGEING's National Awards for the development of business models through innovation.
ExSitu won the Improving Consumer Choice Award at the annual event that encourages innovative businesses to be more consumer-centric in service delivery.
The small two person business based the University of Wollongong Innovation Campus showed how its enterprising initiatives are helping solve challenging health and community issues.
ExSitu was founded six months ago by two nurses with a combined 45 years of providing care. April Creed and Rebecca Glover have have taken that experience and combined it with their passion for improving lives.
Ms Creed said the great thing about the awards were that several categories were all about doing just that for older Australians by developing innovative business ideas.
There were a number of aged care providers among the finalists.
"What is important is the aged care space needs to be able to innovate, And just to be in a room full of people who are passionate about changing the space for the better was a great experience in itself," Ms Glover said.
"To win the award means a lot because it helps us ensure that we can actually get our solution out there to as many people as possible and improve lives."
Ms Creed said to be recognised for doing something they are so passionate meant a lot. She said it was great to be seen as tangibly changing outcomes in the space of consumer choice.
She said ExSitu is involved in co designing solutions in a landscape that is presently challenging for aged care providers. "With the quality standards changing next month to be seen as someone who can actively help individuals and care providers meet those standards is thrilling".
ExSitu has created a web-based app to help individuals communicate their core values in a way that can be understood and acted upon in care settings.
Ms Creed and Ms Glover said it was important they are able to do that at what can be a confusing time.
"People often come into care at a time when there is a lot going on and families can be stressed," Ms Glover said.
"So we created a web platform where people can communicate what is really important to them. And that information is used as the basis of their care plan so that their care is being truly co-designed. So it feeds into things like mobility plans, sleep plans and all different kinds of care plans. What we are providing we like to say is consumer directed care on steroids".
"It is really true to what the person actually wants because they have done it in a truly reflective way where they have been about to think about and draw out what is really important to them".
Ms Creed said the app is designed to help create a care plan for a person holistically.
"Not just in terms of their medical and clinical requirements but also taking account of their values and beliefs, to deliver a tailored customer-centred experience".
Ms Glover said it can be very difficult for people to express what is important when they are in a care setting because they can feel overwhelmed.
"We needed to create a process which supports people to express their values and enables care to be co-designed," she said.
"This model can work for all types of care providers".
ExSitu have been working with community owned not-for-profit aged care provider IRT Group in both residential aged care and home care settings.
The two founders have been overwhelmed by the positive response they have received.
Ms Creed and Ms Glover said the aged care sector is moving towards new standards which will come into place in July.
The new standards are focused on consumer dignity and choice, and will require care providers to maintain a person's identity.
Royal Commission into Aged Care is also due to release an interim report by October 31, 2019.
"It can be a difficult time for people in aged care at the moment, but we really believe that this is an opportunity to change the conversation, to make ageing and dying as beautiful as birth," Ms Creed said.
The startup founders have also drawn on individual experiences of sitting with the people they love to try and negotiate pathways.
Ms Creed said it was not just important to the individuals and their families. "I think it is as important to the staff who care for these people. These really hardworking staff who genuinely want to know someones core values".
"Our real mission is to get people to have these conversations really early and really put out effective documents so that the pathway is clear. So in the event they lost their voice and weren't able to speak for themselves the care providers, their families and those invested in their care feel supported in making actual decisions that they know that person wants," Ms Creed said.
Since starting in January ExSitu has been working with several aged care providers including IRT with residential care in the home care space.
"We are also beginning a trial with RMB Lawyers who are testing how it will go with their offering that to their customers when they come in for their will and a power of attorney," Ms Creed said.
Ms Glover said often people nominate who has to make the decisions for them but they don't give any guidance as to how those decisions need to be made.
"The reason we are working with lawyers as well is because at the stage of life when someone is making those sort of documents we think you should also give some kind of indication as to who you are as a human being and how you would like decisions to be made for you. It is something that can be documented the same way as those other things".
The innovAGEING National Awards celebrates the achievements of organisations, teams, and individuals who have made the industry more consumer-centred, and or successfully implemented a new and better way of doing thing in the service of older Australians.