CEO, McLean Care
Sue Thomson (RN, BHealth Management) is the Chief Executive Officer at McLean Care, an award- winning, not for profit aged care provider. Her passion and commitment to the health and wellbeing of the ageing population in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas is a result of over 20 years’ experience and service in the health and aged care sectors. Under her leadership, the organisation has enjoyed significant growth over the last five years, as well as being awarded internationally, such as winning the recent Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation of the Year (2019). Sue chairs several industry and business groups and is passionate about using her voice in national forums to ensure that older people are not disadvantaged due to their geographic location. She is a champion for innovation in the sector, with a particular focus on geographical disadvantage, harnessing emerging technologies to help address workforce and other pressing sector challenges.
A Virtual Solution for Nursing and Allied Health Workforce Shortages: Harnessing Emerging Technologies
Imagine an older person falling at 1 am, resulting in significant skin tears in a residential care facility in rural or remote Australia. Due to clinical workforce shortages, a resident may travel more than 200km on rough roads to attend a hospital – just for assessment. This scenario plays out across rural and remote Australia every day. Reimagine the same scenario instead harnessing cutting-edge technologies to conduct an immediate remote virtual assessment with a highly skilled clinicians that include Nurse Practitioners, Wound Care Consultants, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Dieticians who are part of a virtual specialist multidisciplinary team. There is timely assessment and treatment interventions – avoiding unnecessary hospitalisations, removing the cost and inconvenience of that horrible and once inevitable hospital ride! Our iAgeHealth platform makes this a reality. McLean Care is an award-winning, not-for-profit organisation with 65+ years operating as a specialist regional, rural and remote (RRR) residential and home and community aged care provider.
We are continually confronted with the challenges of supporting the ageing journey across the geographically remote country communities we serve. Over a third of Australians live in RRR communities with limited access to health and wellness supports. The burden of disease markedly increases resulting in higher rates of morbidity and mortality from chronic disease and higher rates of preventable hospitalisations in comparison to older people living in non rural and remote communities. iAgeHealth removes this terrible inequity.
These challenges are exacerbated by critical workforce shortages – particularly the inability to attract and retain registered nurses and allied health specialists. With a projected shortfall of 85,000 RNs across Australia in the next 3 years. The burden of added cost of agency workers, overtime and managing work health safety is heavy, and threatens the profitability and sustainability of providers.
McLean Care’s blue-sky thinking led us far beyond telehealth conversations delivering a “virtual clinical workforce” enabled through a bespoke software platform delivering end-to-end clinical services to older people. Integrated IoT devices, AI and data analytics inform the completion of clinical assessment, treatment and evaluation pathways tailored specifically for aged care – mirroring in-person best practice.
This presentation follows McLean Care’s journey to deliver iAgeHealth – a world-first virtual workforce solution developed by the aged care industry, for the aged care industry including case studies that demonstrate improved health outcomes for older people in RRR communities.
 van Gaans D, Dent E. Issues of accessibility to health services by older Australians: a review. Public Health Rev. 2018 Jul 16;39:20. doi: 10.1186/s40985-018-0097-4. PMID: 30027001; PMCID: PMC6047130.
 Australian Medical Association (2017) Position Statement – Rural Workforce Initiatives. Accessed at: https://ama.com.au/ausmed/encourAgeing-more-doctors-go-rural