Improving Communication in a Nursing Home for Residents & Staff

by | Jan 29, 2018

Hurricane Harvey: Hospital Emergency Management Skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and nursing homes are each patient’s home. Many nursing facilities and long-term care (LTC) homes have embraced a culture change model that emphasizes allowing older adults to feel at home. Creating a home-like environment presents unique challenges for routine and emergency communication.

3 communication challenges in a nursing home

Increasing resident mobility

In a hospital, patients can generally be expected to stay in their rooms, usually in their beds. In nursing homes and long-term care facilities, residents’ health and welfare is best served by being as independent as possible. That often includes determining their own schedule and activities and, when mental or physical conditions allow, moving around the facility as desired.

Communication challenge #1: To serve residents, staff and resources must be moving around the facility as well. When a clinician or equipment is needed in an emergency, much time may be lost in the search. At best, lost time leads to weary staff; at worst, it could create a medical crisis.

Maintaining a low-stress environment

Because residents of nursing homes typically have both custodial and skilled care needs, residents may sometimes feel like their home is a busy hospital ward. Regardless of whether patients have cognitive issues, the hustle and stress of overhead pages and frequently ringing phones can promote agitation. Confused or distressed patients, especially those suffering from dementia, may take more time to soothe and direct into appropriate activities.

Communication challenge #2: Overhead pages have traditionally been used to solve a number of common needs of the healthcare team, including calling codes to assemble a particular group of clinicians or staff, and locating a specific staff member. Overhead pages can be disruptive to residents  and lack a means of response to communicate whether the recipient heard the message and if they are available to respond, leading to repeat pages and more calls.

Promoting resident autonomy

For residents of a nursing home, opportunities to socialize, enjoy cultural activities and participate in programs to promote physical and mental wellness are central to their quality of life. As many studies have noted, residents’ perceptions that they are able to direct their own activities has a major impact on their satisfaction with their care.

Communication challenge #3: Inevitably, schedules change without notice and favorite events are cancelled due to unforeseen events. This can cause confusion and frustration and diminish residents’ sense of independence and personal choice.

3 solutions for communication in a nursing home

Clinicians and staff of skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes can expect that mobility, restfulness and autonomy will remain important requirement for residents in long-term care. Meeting the challenges raised by these needs can be achieved with the appropriate communication tools.

Mobile coordination for staff

For example, for staff on the go, a communications platform using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets allows staff to find resources, coordinate care or call on housekeeping from any location. Less time is taken from patient care, and staff can preserve their energy for more meaningful work. In an emergency, those saved minutes could also preserve a resident’s life.

Quieter, more accountable communication

Noise from overhead pages and unanswered phones at a nurses’ station can be reduced. A multi-way messaging system with pre-programmed contact groups allows specific personnel to be summoned with one touch. Recipients can be given a choice of customized preformatted, one-touch responses to confirm receipt and availability with a tap on their phone or tablet.

This kind of notification not only ensures a quieter environment, it also promotes accountability and faster response times.

Convenient resident communication

Enabling residents of nursing facilities to connect to the communication platform ensures they have the information they need to make independent decisions about their activities. A multi-modal platform offers residents a choice in how they want to receive the notification.

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Next steps

As the long-term care industry deals with higher vacancy rates, your ability to maintain the comforts of a home-like feeling for your patients will be an important differentiator in a competitive marketplace, as well as a valuable contribution to the wellbeing of your staff and residents.

To learn more about how LiveProcess can address the unique communication needs of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, get the datasheet LiveProcess Communicator for Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care.

Learn about agile healthcare on our blog.

See more blog posts about how to improve emergency and everyday communications in long-term care, including nursing homes, continuing care retirement communities, extended care, institutional care, and senior/eldercare facilities. 

terry-zysk-100x100Terry Zysk, CEO of LiveProcess, has more than two decades of experience in leading organizations that provide innovative solutions to the healthcare industry.