Nursing homes around the country care for the most vulnerable population—seniors and those experiencing severe illnesses. This vulnerability is most clear as the coronavirus spreads and, sadly, infects some of those in assisted living facilities. While stopping the virus is of paramount importance, there are also additional priorities nursing homes always have on their plates. To learn more about these diverse modern challenges nursing homes face, read on.
Disease Protocol Amid COVID-19
In the past months, every nursing home’s mission—a source of great anxiety for staff—has been to prevent residents’ COVID-19 exposure. The virus is extremely contagious and can pass from person to person quietly via asymptomatic virus carriers. This means people who don’t develop symptoms can transmit the sickness to people they contact. Especially salient for a home’s many elderly residents, this illness has an alarmingly high mortality rate as well.
In response to this threat, nursing homes developed intensive protective protocols. The CDC recommends they dedicate at least one person to managing an onsite infection prevention and control (IPC) program. Part of their responsibilities would be staff and resident education regarding the virus, as well as coordinating messaging to potential visitors. In many cases, it’s wise to restrict visits and suggest digital alternatives.
In addition, workers should consistently wear a face mask and go through temperature screenings. COVID-19 tests are appropriate should there be cause to suspect infection.
Daily Communication Gaps
Another less urgent but not entirely unrelated concern is communication within a nursing home. First, to ensure quality care for each person, workers must be able to talk with one another. The two-way radio can help greatly in this area. When staff is handling an emergency, having a radio at-hand allows them to secure back-up quickly. Also, messaging back and forth through a device simply saves time they would otherwise spend walking around the building looking for and talking with someone else.
The second facet of communication is an assisted living facility’s records. The paperwork they keep regarding each resident makes care precise, but staff members don’t always keep their documents in a centralized form. Nursing homes would benefit from expediently converting all records into a digital format to prevent logjams and promote good care.
Staff Recruitment and Retention Struggles
Our final modern challenge nursing homes face is consistent staffing. Because nursing home work is stressful, some workers in the industry move on. When homes cannot attract skilled caregivers to replace them, remaining qualified workers bear a larger burden and burn themselves out. Sometimes, nursing homes get into this negative staffing rut and struggle to recover. This illustrates the importance of reliable and substantial funding to keep people on staff and hire more to help.