One idea, two nurses – and the 3.8million Australians it will benefit

Aug 8, 2020 | ExSitu News

ExSitu was born out of the genuine need to support an overworked aged care industry as well as creating the opportunity for values to inform the care received. This, as well as meeting the needs of one of the most vocal generations for self-advocacy Australia has ever seen, are prime conditions for reinventing central aspects of end-of-life and aged care provision.

It’s time to meet the former nurses combining start-up technology, a dash of rebellion, a lot of heart, and the wishes of 3.8million Australians into one unassuming software platform.

Meet the nurses

With 45 years in nursing between them, April Creed and Rebecca Glover have seen every possible situation play out in the aged care environment or palliative care that you can think of.

April Creed is a self-described rebel who “always like to do things a little bit better.” Nursing has been her career. She’s been a Registered Nurse and a nursing manager in a large residential aged care facility. She also has a background in palliative care. Having worked with many different people and their experiences, April was pushing for change through leadership yet recognising the potential to reinvent things on a much wider scale.

Rebecca, an aged care worker for most of her career, spent her time in residential aged care and home care. She uncovered a passion in home-based aged care because she saw the tremendous value in helping people stay in their own homes. Coupled with an interest in technology and drive to solve human-centred and community-driven problems, Rebecca was curious about the potential application for technology in aged care.

Both nurses were constantly looking to do the right thing by the patients and the staff, often feeling the constraints of dry, impersonal documents chaffing at the people they were charged to help. Always keen to find the better way forward, April and Rebecca knew the value of a person was not always reflected adequately within the documents or opportunities provided.

It was a chance meeting at an innovation challenge in the aged care sector that lead to conceiving Exsitu.

The meeting of minds

Innovative community owned not-for-profit Illawarra Retirement Trust was looking for solutions for new business models that could address problems facing ageing Australians. As guests to the event, Rebecca and April rekindled an old friendship.

“We realised we both held strong gung-ho and passionate visions of what the future of aged care could look like. We combined that vision with our solid practical experience and background to create a new solution. With Illawarra Retirement Trust’s new program available, we pitched it to that aged care provider who then supported us to develop it through the incubator iAccelerate,” explained April.

Meet the motivations

Driven to capture the faces of the people receiving aged care and those working to provide it, Rebecca and April place the clients planning their advance care and aged care experience at the centre of ExSitu’s design.

However, their careers are also informing the decisions they make about ExSitu on a daily basis. They do not forget the nurses or aged care facilities as part of the process.

Rebecca believes that if we have the values of a person reflected well, we can gain more confidence in making decisions. This is especially important when medical interventions may be required.

“If somebody has been given the opportunity to say why they would choose option over another, or what matters to them on a values level, it gives families, healthcare practitioners, everybody involved a lot more confidence to say “yes, I totally understand that this is the decision that this person made,” shared Rebecca.

Preventing grief complicated by post-traumatic stress by leveraging advance care planning is what keeps April motivated. Removing those moments where a lack of alignment between family members is a huge focus for ExSitu. When families are desperately believing they are making decisions and getting it right, but without a roadmap, devolve into arguments, trauma has a way of growing in the gaps created by even the most loving of families.

Often, it’s the people that are left behind that carry those wounds. Wounds that ExSitu can prevent by ensuring the family is on the same page.

ExSitu gives the unique opportunity to provide a roadmap of a person that can then be used by family, friend, and caregiver alike. Each are as unique and tailored as the person it is designed to support.

Meet the audience

3.9 million Australians make up our ageing population in Australia. That’s 16% of the population that require the best of possible care. This is an age group that has seen its way through the cultural revolution of the 60’s and 70’s. It’s the age group that saw the rise of women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights, questioned involvement in foreign conflicts, and who now, as the Baby Boomers are known for not suffering fools gladly.

You cannot ask people who have prided themselves on having a voice and lending their voice to help others to accept silence in their aged care.

This is not only a Baby Boomer need. You’d be hard challenged to find a person among the 1 in 5 Australians with disability who do not self-advocate or have family and friends who are vocal in their advocacy for them. Families that want the right situation for their children going forward in all aspects include end-of-life in this thinking.

Plus, sadly, there are many more Australians that have experienced an end-of-life or death of a loved one where trauma resulted. From seeing a loved one suffer or be denied choices through to rifts in families torn asunder by attempting to make choices where agreement was thin on the ground, so many people are saying enough is enough when it comes to making do these kinds of decisions.

As a nation, we want as much control over our choices as we age or as we face end-of-life as we did when we crafted the life that lead us there.

Stripping back the layers to the values within a person is what ExSitu does best. Instead of looking for the short answer forms and the checkbox mentality, the process is about working with people to get to know them deeply. It’s about digging into the nuance and layer that define a person.

Why ExSitu?

ExSitu helps individuals reflect not only on what they want in end-of-life, but also points the mirror to the past and present to truly inform these decisions.

Based on a card sorting process, ExSitu aims to get reflective outputs to a myriad of different questions and scenarios. The process addresses the medical and legal side of aged care and end-of-life. It allows a person to explore treatment options and ensure their legal basis are covered.

However, the process digs much deeper into the fabric of what makes a great life. Instead of reducing to people to the lines on a form, you are given the opportunity to take a journey into what makes a life valuable. And then delivers that as a roadmap of decision-making.

So well designed at capturing the essence of a person is ExSitu that families have used observations, lines and information recorded by departed loved ones within the software to inform eulogies, comfort family members, and even act as last words.

It’s designed to cater to different cultural backgrounds and subculture identifications. ExSitu’s process is as warm and welcoming to clients with English as a second language as it is with members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The First Nations community do not find it confronting or insensitive. And many people find the process opens up the opportunity for much needed conversations with loved ones. It can be tailored to the person to meet their individual needs.

Want to find out more about Exsitu or meet April and Rebecca for yourself? Contact the team from ExSitu now.

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