Since entering the sector in 1987, The Society of Saint Hilarion has become a leading provider of aged care support facilities in South Australia.
The organisation operates a villa-style facility in the Adelaide suburb of Fulham and a purpose-built home in Seaton. Together they provide support for 176 residents.
The organisation’s 300 staff offer a range of services including residential care, community care, and respite and enablement care. Staff are supported by an active group of volunteers who provide additional support across the organisation.
As the organisation grew in recent years, it had become increasingly reliant on its IT infrastructure. Everything from back-office processes to the medical and personal records of residents are stored digitally and accessed by staff via secure networks.
To allow for flexibility and ease of use, about three years ago the organisation deployed a fleet of 64 WatchGuard wireless access points to provide Wi-Fi coverage for both staff and residents. While this had worked well initially, as facilities grew it became apparent that there were coverage blackspots, areas in which performance was poor and where the organisation wanted to have more complete coverage for safety and security.
“We were also facing challenges when it came to monitoring and managing the access points as we had some from a range of different vendors,” says Vincenzo Libri, CEO, Saint Hilarion Aged Care. “We needed to find a way to simplify our wireless infrastructure while also improving coverage across our two facilities.”
Libri says Wi-Fi coverage was particularly poor in building basements, the chapel, and in the cafes. This meant staff could not access the network in those areas and so were unable to make use of the data they required as part of their care roles.
“Having dependable Wi-Fi is particularly important for our nursing and support workers,” says Libri.“ They make use of tablet devices on their medical carts to check the identity of residents and ensure they are receiving the correct medications. Being unable to access the network makes this very difficult. As a result of these issues, and In line with our strategy to evolve our care services and safety requirements, we decided to make further investments in our wireless infrastructure.”
Working with long-term technology partner Calvert Technologies, the Saint Hilarion Aged Care IT team assessed a range of options on the market. After careful consideration, a decision was made to standardise on access points from WatchGuard Technologies and maintain a single pane of glass management capability.
“We already had three WatchGuard Firebox devices installed and had been very impressed with their performance and ease of management,” says Libri. “It made sense to standardise on this equipment.”
Chief Executive of technology partner Calvert, Dean Calvert, says once the decision to deploy additional access points from WatchGuard was made, the process was completed in less than four weeks.
“The first step was to shift some of the existing access points from the smaller location to the larger one,” he says. “New access points were then deployed in the smaller facility.”
Initially there had been a total of 64 Wi-Fi access points across the two locations, and this has now increased with the addition of a further 39 new devices.
“We were helped by the fact that WatchGuard was able to provide the hardware with stock availability as quickly as they could,” says Calvert. “This enabled us to meet our aggressive timeline as there were safety requirements so we needed to be able to act quickly and have the more robust infrastructure fully functional within a month.”
With the enhanced Wi-Fi infrastructure in place, Saint Hilarion Aged Care was quickly enjoying some significant benefits. Users are reporting strong performance across both facilities and are able to access digital resources whenever they are required.
“As an organisation, we have a strategy of shifting away from paper-based processes and so our Wi-Fi network is a vital part of this process,” says Libri. “It enables us to streamline the way we operate, improve the quality of care being delivered, and reduce our operational costs.”
Libri says the WatchGuard Wi-Fi access points also allow the organisation to provide three different networks. One, dubbed corporate, is used by staff to access personal resident details and medical records.
A second network is used by residents to check email, undertake video calls, and access streaming entertainment services such as Netflix. The third network is used by guests visiting the facilities.
“Being able to separate out traffic in this way is very important,” says Libri. “It means we can be sure that sensitive data remains secure at all times and is only ever accessed by those people who have permission to do so.”
Libri says the enhanced wireless network infrastructure is also providing vital support when it comes to telecommunications. Staff members are equipped with mobile handsets that connect via Wi-Fi rather than the cellular network.
“This means that having strong Wi-Fi coverage in all areas is even more important,’ says Libri. “If a resident pushes a call bell but that message is not relayed to the relevant staff members handset, it means we may fail to respond in a timely manner.”
Libri says users and the organisation’s management team have been very impressed with the performance of the wireless networks. Technology partner Calvert will continue to monitor and maintain the infrastructure as well as providing end-user support.
“With strong ongoing support from both WatchGuard and Calvert, I am confident Saint Hilarion Aged Care will have a reliable, high-performance wireless infrastructure that can support our needs well into the future,” concludes Libri.