What does the future of care look like in our assisted living and long-term care communities? Answering that question has been the main priority for the Ohio-Person Centered Care Coalition, for which I serve as Board President. Not only has the pandemic shown our industry how important person-centered care is, but that there are many ways to support, engage and help residents thrive. And even though it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, providing tailored care and personalized programming not only leads to better resident outcomes but a reduction in turnover as well.
This blog will walk you through some of the key trends coming out of the pandemic that are positively impacting person-centered today.
Implementation of Modern Technology
The programs and platforms available today can significantly improve productivity, profitability and care in our communities. We knew this to be true prior to the crisis and many technologies out there are destined to become commonplace as a result.
For example, residents who once had to be transported off-site for in-person appointments can now consult with their doctors in the comfort of their own rooms. They can also visit with family members near and far more regularly via virtual visits thanks to our wonderful caregivers who’ve patiently shown their residents how to use these programs.
Staff members can also benefit from modern healthcare technology, which is allowing providers to provide person-centered employment like never before. Mobile scheduling apps give employees 24/7 access to their schedules, as well as the ability to pick up open shifts and request PTO right from their phones. They can also receive important messages from management in real time. This was critical throughout the pandemic as staff needed to be updated on safety protocols, changes from CMS and the health department, case counts and more. Employees appreciated the transparency, and this consistent communication will be critical moving forward to support and retain frontline workers.
Additionally, modern, contactless time & attendance software was instrumental in keeping staff and residents safe. Employees were able to clock in from a centralized tablet or their mobile device and pre-screening questionnaires screened staff for common symptoms of the novel coronavirus to help stop the spread while automating documentation for leadership.
Proactive Collection Of Feedback From Residents & Families
In addition to increased communication between management and staff, providers went out of their way to collect feedback from residents and their families to better serve them during this challenging time. Organizations, many of whom previously took a reactive approach to feedback from residents and their families, began sending regular surveys to help meet needs as they arose and before they grew into much larger problems.
Resident councils also continued to meet virtually to discuss the impact of the pandemic and develop solutions for support based on concerns and recommendations from their fellow residents.
This constant sharing of information led to many process improvements throughout communities.
Getting Creative With Tailored Programming
Person-centered programming became a necessity throughout the pandemic as residents were quarantined in their rooms. As a result, program and life enrichment efforts became center stage for both residents and their families. And this had a huge impact on boosting morale and helping residents thrive in isolation.
We saw activity directors spend more time listening to each individual resident and developing programs tailored to their recreational pursuits. And since one-on-one programming was required, person-centered care was provided during every single interaction that took place.
Some of the programs providers developed include in-room entertainment such as virtual online tours of destinations around the world and personalized gardening. We saw staff organize entertainment like races and holiday-themed parades in the hallways so that residents could watch safely from their rooms. And it’s important to note that this cadence of programming – especially those activities that connected staff and residents – occurred at a much greater cadence during the pandemic. I think this trend will continue to gain traction, as we saw such a great response from residents and team members alike.
Communities also offered lifelong learning such as senior college courses as well as upgraded wellness-based programming like reiki therapy, sound therapy and health education.
Consistent Work Assignments
“High CNA turnover and/or low retention rates have been linked to lower quality care and lower quality of life for residents,” said Valerie K. Sabol, PhD, MBA, ACNP, GNP, ANEF, FAANP, FAAN in an article for Clinical Advisor. “To reduce CNA staff turnover, best practice suggests more consistent work assignments (staff to resident pairing) to improve overall job satisfaction.”
Being forced to create Covid and non-Covid units to contain the virus gave many providers a taste of the value of offering consistent work assignments and how they naturally lead to person-centered care. Team members are more proactively able to meet the needs of the residents they serve and can form those personal bonds that are so important in care settings – especially for memory care patients and others that rely on seeing recognizable faces each day.
But consistent work assignments don’t just contribute to better care outcomes – they also lead to greater job satisfaction for frontline workers. Staff feel more comfortable working with residents they are familiar with and transparent scheduling allows them to more easily manage their responsibilities outside of work. This makes them more engaged on the job and therefore, less likely to call off. Plus, offering consistent assignments allows them to get to know their colleagues better…a welcome alternative to working alongside unfamiliar agency workers.