Innovative Range of Residential Based Services for the Elderly [Interview Transcript]


Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest: Gail Harding
Guest Bio: Gail Harding is the Director of Nursing at Wheatfields Incorporated located in Freeling, South Australia. With over 20 years of experience in the hospital and aged care industry, she continues to provide excellent services especially in the elderly community.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, Director of Nursing Gail Harding talks about the services they provide in Wheatfields Inc. Their mission is to serve older people, responding to their needs through the provision of quality services and accommodation. Located in Freeling, an hour north of the city in a quiet township, Wheatfields offers a quiet small town atmosphere. Wheatfields is close to community services, with shops close by, the Freeling Bowls club across the road and a short walk to numerous parks.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. My guest today is Gail Harding, director of nursing with Wheatfields Incorporated – an aged care facility in Australia. Now I won’t tell you where it is, I’ll leave that up to Gail. Good morning Gail and welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Gail Harding Good morning. And thank you very much for having me on.

W Tell me where Wheatfields is.

G Wheatfields is a small rural nursing home, we’re situated about 90 kilometer North of Adelaide. And in a small town across Freeling, a lot of the businesses might know us we were the hometown of Mcleod’s Daughters when that was being filmed.

W That’s one way to be famous.

G That’s probably the main claim to fame. It’s a rural area that’s mainly known for a wheat growing but were on the edge of Barossa Valley as well.

W Now tell us about your facility.

G Were 53 bed age care facility. And we cater for high care and local people. We also do residential respite as well. So we also and the preferred place for people to go from the local health center when their patients require palliative care because we do other special need service for doing palliative care and provide that really well for our people in the community that needs that.

W Now your catchment would be local there, but I understand and you’ve gained some national attention for something else?

G We have, recently we received two Information Technology in aged care award. And a national award just recognizing an aged care facilities that do computer technology well. So we were lucky enough to receive two awards. One was for an introduction of computer technology – how we nurtured the workplace and staff and then created a learning environment for them so that when we did introduce the Information and Technology or the computers into the workplace, it was a smooth transition and the staff really felt supported. And the other award was for the technology that we do use because we are almost paperless now. We have a medication program, we have a nursing care program, the doctors use a different program. And so we are really well supported in our use of computers within the workplace. So that was a pretty big tool for our facility because we are rural and we’re remote, we’re not a big aged care facility. We don’t have any technology gurus on board so it’s a pretty steep learning curve for all the staff and but I’m really happy with where we’re at at the moment and the outcome that we’ve been able to achieve. So it’s a pretty significant for such a small place.

W Gail congratulations to you and to your staff for the winning recognition like that. I’m kind of betting that you didn’t have a multimillion dollar budget and you weren’t a multinational IT company?

G No, we’re certainly not a big facility. We don’t have a huge budget. And I think that’s one of the things that made it even more important for us, was that we are so small and we are stand-alone. We’re not in with a big organization and we’re still able to achieve that and I think that’s really very encouraging for other small stand-alone facilities that you are able to achieve this. And it really is a tribute to the staff I suppose who were able to step up but also to our board of management who have had a lot of foresight in being able to see where we needed to be and to be able to support that vision and to get us to where we have been. So the board really has a lot to do with it as well and so for them, I think it was wonderful that they did support the strategic plan that we had in place.

W You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. I’m in conversation with Gail Harding, the director of nursing at Wheatfields Incorporated – an aged care facility in South Australia. Now Gail what would you do differently if you were implementing a system like this again. What were the learnings that came out of it for you?

G I think for the most important thing was to have the Wi-Fi throughout the facility working well. That was the major and problems that we had so that when we were using tablets at the bed side, sometimes they were really slow and that was a source of frustration for the staff. I think if you doing it you need to get that part of it right to start with but other than, that I think that we really sought through the process world and maybe I wouldn’t use tablets at the bedside in the future I would have got computers because they are faster, there’s a less source of frustration for the staff. And so that would create more of acceptance but overall I think that we did manage really, really well with how we went. I did spend a month before we introduced any of the technology and went to the different suppliers to see which programs were gonna suite us and which programs spoke to each other that was really important and whether we could enter the information once and have that go across several different programs, that was an important feature for us – so we’re able to achieve that. And so I think the other end of it we’ve really got a work force that accept the technology, uses that well and I think we use it to its maximum potential but really the Wi-Fi situation is very getting was probably something that irked us as all.

W Now I can’t imagine a nurse’s station without paper on it. Tell me how going paperless has changed the process?

G It has been fantastic from the point of view of having one point of entry for information. So that that point of entry goes across all your fields. And when we had accreditation that was really good to be able to show that our information was consistent. We didn’t have say for example meal people dislikes and things like that written in one place and it’d be different somewhere else. So there’s consistency with the information that really is a major important factor. I really love the way that we’re able to get the information out to the staff and so that communication is so much better. The other really good thing about it is down to accountability for staff and there’s true accountability when you’ve get accurate reporting. The paperless, where it is mostly paperless. There are still some areas where we do need to use paper record but not a lot. Everything is on the computer, even all the doctors’ notes and their progress notes for the residents, that’s all on computer as well. And hopefully in the near future the commonlaw government will be making that step closer so that the doctors can use what they’re putting in the computer as a script. We’re hoping to be able to do away with handwritten scripts from the doctor within this current calendar year so that would be a great step just to reduce the burden. Some are management point of view having no paper when we’re doing order is very easy to be able to bring that new information that you’re auditing, in progress notes it takes so much, gives us back that so much time with order because we’re not looking through lots and lots of case notes. We can create the information that we want to using the computer system that we use. So from a time’s point of view it’s very fantastic not having to wait through paper work, not having to wait through case notes. From a medication management point of view, we’ve really reduced the number of incidences because we’re not transcribing medication and medications are up to date. They’re in real time and I think that’s so important as well for staff working on the floor when they’ve got the meds to change, they get that information immediately. And that’s really critical when you’re dealing with residents and dealing with their medication from a day to day basis. So yeah not having to wait through paperwork has been terrific. We certainly created a couple of empty drawers in our filing cabinets – that’s been really good. And also we don’t have the problem of improving a form or a document, putting out a new form and then some months later, finding that somebody still somewhere has a stash of the old form and suddenly that appear. So everything is real time.

W (laugh)There’s always a stash of old forms.

G (laughing) Yeah, somebody always manages to have one somewhere and manages it to the photocopy that and somehow and that’s not the form we’re really supposed to be using. So these eliminates all of that, everything from the staff uses on the computer, it’s the correct forms and the information management has improved enormously. So there’s been a bit tremendous benefit to us all.

W Gail you need to be congratulated on this because implementing electronic health systems is a major, major effort everywhere it’s done. And it sounds like yours is gone swimming wells so congratulations for that and it’s been lovely to hear your story.

G Thank you very much.

W I’m sure people would be interested in your story Gail. If they want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

G I’m more than happy for anybody to get in touch with us. And I have a mobile number and or they can look us up at on our website. Our website is and my contact details are available thru there. People are able to send me an email if they want and I’m more than happy for them to do that. I think that what we’ve been able to gain should be shared particularly across from all the facilities and rural and remote facilities because I know that often those people feel very isolated and simply because they’re small and they may not have a chain of nursing homes that they belong to. So I am more than happy for people to get in contact with us through our website.

W You’ve been listening to Wayne Bucklar on Health Professional Radio in conversation with Gail Harding, the director of nursing at the Wheatfields Aged Care Facility in South Australia. A transcript of this interview’s available on our website at and there’s a sound archive there as well. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

Liked it? Take a second to support healthprofessionalradio on Patreon!