Macquarie Telecom has signed a new deal with aged care provider Southern Cross Care Western Australia (SCCWA), facilitating improved connectivity for its senior residents and staff, while lowering operational costs.

The deal sees SCCWA switch its mobile services from a tier one provider to Macquarie, doubling its data allowance while reducing costs by 20%, with the improved mobility service beneficial to help residents and staff stay connected during coronavirus restrictions.

Already a Macquarie customer, Southern Cross Care WA was faced with the conflicting challenges of needing to reduce operational costs while upgrading its technology and telecoms network, much of which was becoming obsolete and presenting a risk to its operations.

“In the early stages of the pandemic, visitor restrictions were put in place to protect the safety of our residents,” said Anirban Talukdar (AT), Head of IT, Southern Cross Care WA

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“Macquarie was quickly able to provide tablets with 4G sim cards at residential aged care homes to facilitate video calls between residents and their families. Macquarie also coordinated non-essential staff to work remotely with a combination of Citrix and Microsoft Teams.”

Macquarie worked closely with Talukdar – a telecoms veteran with experience in BT and Vodafone – and his team to rebuild the Southern Cross network, including replacing SCCWA’s old MPLS telecoms network with SD-WAN.

Combined with NBN migration where possible, the Southern Cross estimates the rebuild will lead to cost savings of between 20-to-25%.

“This has improved Internet reliability and doubled speeds from an average of 20-to-50Mbps to 100Mbps in most sites, enabling better access to digital services for staff and residents. For example, in one facility SCCWA has deployed the CareCohort mobile app, which provides staff, allied health providers, GPs, residents and family and friends with important information and collaboration tools,” says Macquarie..

“To manage costs and resilience, Macquarie and SCCWA identified priority 1, 2, and 3 sites, applying varying levels of backup to each. For example, priority 1 sites such as the Central Office at Rivervale – where SCCWA’s primary data centre is located – has two geographically dispersed links and a 4G backup, whereas priority 3 sites have one link and 4G backup.”

“Cost savings and value are always important for our industry,” says Talukdar.

“The 2016 Federal Government revision to the industry funding model – which essentially gave more choice to customers – has sparked greater demand for digital services in aged care. We hit a crossroads where both were a priority at once.”

“Right now, organisations across Australia are overspending on limited telco services at a time when they need value and innovation,” said Luke Clifton, Group Executive, Macquarie Telecom.

“Aged care providers are accustomed to operational and budgetary challenges, but it’s no secret the industry was among the worst affected by the pandemic. Almost overnight, providers needed to reimagine their operations to maintain high quality services, but also implement extensive social distancing and remove work measures to keep staff and clients safe. Southern Cross is a perfect example of how to address these challenges while delivering real benefits.”

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