Converged network heals communication at Anglican Homes

Aged care provider Anglican Homes is in the process of replacing its ageing PABX telephony system with a converged voice and data network to improve and centralize its communication management.

"Our PABX systems were ageing and weren't providing the customer service levels we were after so we started to think how we could make better use of our data network and the new technology that's emerging in the aged care sector," said Anglican Homes IT manager, Peter Mildenhall.

The Western Australia-based age care provider has already rolled out new Nortel-based networks for two of its 19 sites and expects final completion by September this year. Once complete, it will service around 1500 customers and 1200 staff.

The rollout is being conducted by systems integrator Converged Networks, and will be implemented in three phases. The first involves replacing existing telephony systems and increasing the capacity of the data network. The second phase will integrate aged care emergency services such as Nurse Call, Paging and Fire Alarms with the new network. And the third consists of rolling out wireless capabilities across all sites.

"We're not putting wireless to every facility at this time, but we have identified all the key sites that require it based on size and necessity for specialist care," Mildenhall said.

Although he said the rollout would be finished by September, Mildenhall expects the wireless component will not be complete until the end of the next financial year. Regardless, staff had already responded positively to the wireless rollouts in the two completed sites.

"Our staff are very positive about the ability to communicate over a wireless system as it lets them remain on the floor delivering care while at the same time being able to communicate with other areas," he said.

Luke Zappara, a solutions specialist at Converged Networks, said the biggest cost savings from the deployment will be gained from having all systems run through a centralized management system. Previously, Anglican Home had a piecemeal network that was managed and maintained by a number of different IT providers.

"All the communication and management has been consolidated for a standardized system across all sites, which makes it a lot easier for Anglican Homes because it now holds a single service agreement with one IT group instead of many," Zappara said.

Mildenhall said that financial benefits would be secondary to the improved communication gained between sites.

"We're not driving from a purely financial perspective," he said. "Improved communication is the major benefit we're shooting for, both internally and externally between staff and residents."

The full rollout is expected to cost around $1 million.

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