Life saving new tech in first-ever trial at Goodwin

Goodwin has hosted an Australia-first trial of infection control technology with the potential to save residents’ lives. The Smart Badge technology has proved to be an important measure in infection prevention and outbreak management for residential aged care during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The Smart Badge is developed in Australia and aims to take safety to a new level, providing for a faster, more informed outbreak containment that avoids worst-case scenarios of infection spread in aged care facilities seen previously during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three-month trial took place at Goodwin House, Ainslie and included residents, staff and visitors. The trial was conducted in cooperation with Aspen Medical, exclusive distributors of Smart Badge, who reached out to Goodwin after recognising Goodwin as a leading provider in the aged car sector, explains Stephen Wood, Smart Badge Project Director at Aspen Medical:

‘Aspen Medical, through its support of aged care during the pandemic, had seen the importance of an effective contact tracing solution, especially in this sector. We were keen to understand how the Smart Badge technology could best be deployed in an aged care setting and so established a working relationship with Goodwin to be the first aged care provider to trial the system.’

Smart Badge comes as a safe and wearable device either as a watch, lanyard, clip or pin providing automated and instant contact tracing, backed up by real-time data allowing Goodwin to manage area capacity numbers and social distancing.
Smart Badge does not use a GPS system, so it doesn’t identify the user’s location on a map nor impact privacy. The Smart Badge only detects that it is near another Smart Badge or Smart Badge node, which one, how close, and for how long. It tracks proximity to other Smart Badges via Bluetooth, making it ideal for use in closed communities such as age care facilities. The Smart Badge technology is well suited to seniors as it doesn’t need a mobile phone and it can also be used as a node in a room, which can be more viable for example for memory support units.

Tamra McLeod, Executive Manager Clinical and Health Services, says the trial has been successful:

‘We have been able to see where in the buildings the staff have been, for example which floor they have been on and who they have been in contact with during their shift. This information is very useful in case of an outbreak of COVID-19 as it quickly tells us who needs to go into quarantine in the case of an outbreak. This information can reduce the risk of staff shortage through unnecessary quarantining, which helps us ensure continuity of care.’

Goodwin’s trial of the Smart Badge contact tracing technology has proved to have clear benefits for the whole residential aged care industry, also beyond COVID-19. ‘The technology has clear benefits in the ongoing management and containment of other communicable conditions such as gastro and influenza,’ explains Tamra.

Tamra says the staff and visitors have been positive about using the Smart Badge: ‘We’ve had very little resistance as it’s not a tracker.’

All visitors to Goodwin House had to collect and register a Smart Badge upon arrival and return it to reception on exit. ‘Contractors entering our facilities are the biggest risk to bringing infection in, so to be able to know who they have been in contact with is important.’ Says Tamra.

With such a successful trial, Goodwin is now looking into application of Smart Badge across all its care facilities.

Trial results are also being reviewed by Aspen Medical and Smart Badge, with a view to wider application across Australia’s aged care industry.