It’s a difficult subject. If you run or operate a care facility, resident discharges, evictions, and transfers are the last thing you want to think about.
No service provider wants to be in the position of having to refuse care. Telling a resident’s family you can no longer meet the needs of their loved one can be extremely difficult.
Your residents enjoy living in your facility because of the environment you’ve created. The warmth of your staff members. The valuable social interactions they encourage whenever possible. The opportunities for friendships to grow.
Asking a resident to leave all of this behind means asking her to leave her home.
Unfortunately, there are times when you have to do just that.
That said, transfer, discharge, and eviction rates don’t have to be as high as they are.
Often, you can avoid these actions without sacrificing the care or safety of any of your residents.
Facilitating better nurse to nurse communication inside your facility is one of the best ways to do this. In this post, we’ll tell you how.
The Current Climate
Evictions from nursing homes and other care facilities are on the rise. According to an Associated Press analysis, since 2000, complaints about evictions and discharges from American long-term care homes have gone up by 57%.
Why is this happening?
There are many factors at play. But for some families, the motivations of the people running these homes seem suspect.
In recent years, there have been media reports of residents being discharged after hospitalizations. There have also been claims that general complaints from family members have lead to evictions.
It goes without saying that these actions are inexcusable. Facilities that operate in this way give other residences a bad name.
Of course, there are legitimate reasons to discharge or transfer a resident. Care needs change. You do all you can to accommodate your residents, but for some, you simply may not be equipped.
There are also times when the behaviour of one resident can put others at risk.
Most facility directors, managers, nurses, and personal support workers have dealt with an aggressive resident at one time or another. The potential for these situations to escalate is all to real.
Sometimes, alternate accommodations are the only solutions. But not always.
You Need a Strategy
The Canadian population is aging. The rates of dementia and people with complex care needs are going up. Some conditions unrelated to advanced age – such as autism – are also on the rise.
In general, the number of people who require professional care is increasing. What does this mean for facilities?
Most likely, one result will be more disputes when dealing with residents and their families. In some cases, legal challenges may emerge.
Now more than ever, the media is paying attention to how residents in community homes, nursing homes, and other care facilities are being treated.
This is primarily a positive change. Facilities that provide quality care place a high value on transparency and family involvement. But in some cases, awareness can also lead to greater confusion about the responsibilities of owners, operators, and caregivers.
For this reason, it’s never been more important for facilities to ensure discharges and transfers go smoothly.
Reducing the chances that these events will occur in the first place is ideal. One of the most obvious ways of achieving this goal is to be rigorous in assessing potential residents.
It’s true that families should be realistic about the level of care their loved ones are likely to need in the future. But family members are rarely experts. And often, it takes an expert to spot someone who should be places in a more specialized care environment.
Still, proper assessment isn’t always enough.
In some cases, coordination between staff members (such as nurse to nurse communication) can make the biggest difference.
Nurse to Nurse Communication and Other Solutions
Most discussions of involuntary resident transfers, discharges, and evictions focus on handling situations that have already escalated.
Facility operators may have questions about whether they’re meeting legal requirements. They may also spend time thinking about how to make things easier for residents who have to leave.
These re important considerations. But we believe that, when possible, prevention is best. One solution? Find cost-effective ways of equipping your staff to meet the evolving needs of residents.
Of course, we would never advocate taking on residents without enough workers to tend to them. But you shouldn’t underestimate how much your ability to provide care can grow with a more efficient staff.
Few things improve facility-wide efficiency like better nurse to nurse communication.
Well-connected staff members are better able to assess potential emergency situations and prioritize responses. They’re also better positioned to understand unusual behaviour in residents.
Making your facility more secure is one of the easiest ways to make the most of your human resources. Consider the value of simple, instantaneous staff communication in the context of security.
If you own, operate, or work in a nursing home, you’ve seen it happen many times. Suddenly, a resident requires closer monitoring than she did in the past.
With this in mind, why not consider technologies that could expand your monitoring capacity? Personal emergency systems – including fall detection, wander alert, and wearable nurse call buttons – can all be exceptionally helpful.
It’s also important to consider security systems that provide a big-picture perspective of your facility. Knowing where everybody is can help you track potentially hazardous situations and intervene before they occur.
In all of these cases, nurse to nurse communication is critical. Technology and information-sharing strategies can help nurses and other staff members keep residents safer.
The Bottom Line
More and more people are entering care homes. Involuntary transfers, discharges, and evictions are becoming serious problems. Now – and in the future – forcing people to move should be a last resort.
Take steps to ensure you can keep residents in their home whenever possible. To do this, create an environment that’s not only warm and inviting, but safe and secure. Making better nurse to nurse communication a priority is a major step in the right direction.
Feature Image: Craig Sunter