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Tech Can Ease the Pain of Pandemic

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How you can help staff streamline external communication efforts during COVID-19.

By Michael Eidsaune, CEO, Carely

It’s been more than five weeks since family members have been able to visit their loved ones in senior living facilities due to coronavirus, creating a sense of helplessness and worry among spouses, children and other loved ones.

Quality relationships are just as important as quality care, but fielding phone calls from each member of the family not only takes precious time, but also takes time away from the residents themselves. It’s a hard balance to achieve. While managing a senior living community is a demanding job, proactive communication goes a long way toward building a sense of caring and trust, especially in unknown times like these.

Luckily, advanced technology can be a force multiplier for any organization, especially in long-term healthcare. With shrinking margins and tighter CMS restrictions, technology can be a saving grace for the organizations that utilize it.

With the right technology, staff can provide regular updates and give families peace of mind — all while doing their best work and keeping residents safe and healthy.

Ensure family concerns are received and attended to

Normally when a drop-in visit from a family member leads to a concern about a resident, too often that concern has either no one to be directed to, or it ends up on a post-it note on an executive director’s desk. With a simple technology platform, these messages are not only easier for the family to deliver, especially when they are offsite, but they are much easier to track and deliver to the appropriate staff member.

Calls are dramatically reduced

As senior living communities continue to quarantine their residents to prevent coronavirus spread, family members who have been physically cut off have become increasingly worried about their loved one’s well being. Many of them will call the facility and ask for updates. However, by adopting a social technology solution — and encouraging family members to use it — families are empowered to communicate better amongst themselves. This leads to fewer instances of multiple family members calling for the same update.

Some solutions are low cost or free

In the past, most long-term care software was complex and expensive. In many cases that is still true today (just look at your electronic medical records invoice). However, there are many solutions that have become mainstream outside of the long-term care industry that can be quickly adopted and easily implemented at negligible cost compared to the older, legacy systems.

Take Slack, for example. Many organizations have adopted this text chat solution to use with administrative staff across multiple communities. This software is intuitive and can be utilized for free.

Technology is increasingly supplementing our day-to-day communication. Zoom became a household name almost overnight since the stay-at-home orders were put in place, and the rate of smartphone adoption gets closer to 100 percent everyday. As a result, families have become more reliant on technology as a means to receive information and connect.

In long-term care settings, adoption of tech-based communication tools can have a tremendous impact, especially with most organizations on mandatory lockdowns nationwide.

Families who were once able to visit and see their loved ones in person are able to utilize video conferencing technology, like FaceTime and Google Duo, to talk to their loved ones and show support. Additionally, with CMS lifting restrictions on teleconferencing and telehealth, staff members at senior living facilities have been able to leverage personal devices to connect with families on the outside.

During this time of increased isolation, families are more dependent than ever on the collaboration of their loved one’s care team. That’s why it’s important to consider incorporating this technology now, as it will help streamline communication, save staff time and help alleviate some of the worries of family caregivers.

 

Michael Eidsaune is the founder and CEO of Carely, a platform of resources that helps families and seniors housing professional care providers collaborate.

 

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