A team of developers from the Public Health Unit at Sydney Local Health District have been working on the InFLUenza outbreak Communication, Advice and Reporting (FluCARE) web-based app for two years, and it will now undergo a one-year trial at up to 20 local aged care facilities.
The app was designed to help staff quickly recognise and respond to a flu outbreak and to reduce any additional workload.
FluCARE’s algorithm analyses residents’ health data in real time and automatically trigger alerts when the criteria for an outbreak is reached, sending email notifications to key response personnel, like the facility manager, as well as alerting the district’s on-call public health officer and designated GPs.
The technology will also distribute an action checklist to guide the facility staff’s immediate response when a resident has been recognised as having the flu.
The announcement of the new technology is timely given the extreme 2019 flu season, which has particularly effected aged care residents across the country. Just last week, a facility on the NSW South Coast went into lock down following the death of four residents due to an outbreak.
The ABC reported that it was informed of the deaths at The Marco Polo Aged Care Services at Unanderra (7.7 kilometres south of Wollongong) through “an anonymous tip off” – and that the facility has been quarantined since the June long weekend with five residents taken to hospital and 15 isolated.