The Healing Power of Human Touch and Technology that Promotes It

April 18, 2022

There’s nothing more old school than the healing power of human touch and personal connections. Anyone who works in senior living facilities knows the value of compassion in providing care.

After all, the caliber of care reflects the humanity staff show residents in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities every day. And this is conveyed through an enduring personal touch and empathy that never goes out of style.

Not surprisingly, science confirms the healing power of human touch. Researchers discovered how a nurse’s touch can ease anxiety, enhances overall care, and reduce pain among residents in post-acute care and senior living environments.

Digital transformation technologies improve quality care

In today’s world, human interaction is only one part of the equation. Senior care operators are coming face to face with the power of digital transformation and its many forms, especially workforce management and mobile shift management. In skilled nursing facilities, mobile shift  management and digital employee communications are helping facilities thrive by empowering staff and managers and freeing up more time for them to focus on residents.

"Extensive literature review and analysis indicated that touch, human interaction, relatability, compassion, and technology are all integral to both the current and future nursing practice; the harmonious and appropriate collaboration of advanced technology in nursing practice is likely to continue improving patient care,” according to a research paper in Critical Care Nursing Quarterly.

In fact, used correctly, technology, like mobile workforce management, can help enhance opportunities for in-person human touch between caregivers and residents.

This has never been more evident than during the 2020 pandemic. These trying circumstances repeatedly demonstrated the value of digital transformation technologies, such as mobile workforce management, proactive nurse scheduling, real-time time tracking, touchless time clocks with thermal- sensing capabilities, and centralized, two-way messaging.

When infection control protocols and social distancing rules limited restricted visits, technology helped residents stay in touch with loved ones. Workforce management technologies also helped employees take better care of residents and better manage their own lives. Why Staff Management Software is Critical in Senior Living.

Workforce management and employee messaging empower senior care staff

Workforce management with integrated nurse scheduling, time tracking, and centralized two-way employee communications resolve staff administration challenges that could otherwise detract from resident care. For example, a mobile workforce management system purpose-built for long-term care promotes productivity and enables operators to:

  • Reduce costs by preventing overtime and streamlining inefficient processes.
  • Promote quality care by keeping skilled nursing facilities appropriately staffed.
  • Comply with state and federal regulations.
  • Retain employees by engaging them and giving them what they need.

See how Trilogy uses technology to advance quality care and reduce costs.

Simplifying compliance with Payroll-Based Journal technology

Unified workforce management and compliance technology is ideally suited to enhance the operator’s ability to provide quality personal care by making other tasks less of a worry.

For example, consider how public scrutiny and regulatory attention are increasing in the wake of  COVID-19 and havoc it wreaked in healthcare, in this case long-term care facilities.

Compliance with constantly evolving federal and state regulations can be a daunting, time-consuming  responsibility for post-acute care and long-term care providers, even in the best of times, potentially drawing attention away from management’s ability to support staff and residents.

Under the spotlight, skilled nursing operators must meticulously adhere to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines and create thorough Payroll-Based Journal reports. The quarterly Payroll-Based Journal reports influence the facility’s Five-Star Rating, which in turn affects their reputation, insurance, and Medicare reimbursements.

SmartLinx integrated workforce management system automates this requirement, by collecting and generating Payroll-Based Journal reports in a matter of minutes. These reports can be helpful when regulators conduct surprise compliance audits, allowing facility operators to immediately produce accurate and documented answers to questions inspectors may pose.

But by the time, administrators are ready to generate quarterly Payroll-Based Journal reports, it can be too late. Even the best PBJ reporting systems cannot prove compliance to CMS regulations if the staffing throughout the quarter did not meet CMS requirements.

Jump start compliance with proactive employee scheduling

Compliance must start with a proactive employee scheduling system that creates and adjusts nurse schedules based on PPD census values. Another important piece of the puzzle is real-time attendance tracking. Let’s face it. No matter how effective your employee schedules are, staff will violate them by calling out of work at the last minute or showing up late. These unexpected employee scheduling gaps can jeopardize compliance, compromise quality care, and lead to unscheduled overtime.

It’s important to identify and close nurse scheduling gaps quickly. When your workforce management system can integrate real-time attendance tracking with live nurse scheduling data, you can.  Intuitive nurse scheduling systems also provide transparency into live attendance data. A color-coded centralized dashboard exposes gaps across the enterprise at first glance and lets you  drilldown for details.

Some workforce management systems, like SmartLinx, take this a step further by recommending qualified employees to fill the open shifts—without incurring overtime—and then with the click of the mouse, they will automatically offer the shifts to select employees.

Using digital technologies to solve staffing crisis 

Human capital is more and more in demand as the need for senior care continues to grow.  Nearly 10,000 Americans turn 65 each day and life expectancy increases 2.5 years every ten years. Indeed, the senior population is projected to double by 2030.

This creates a need for more care at a time when the workforce is also aging. To prepare for the impact on skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, providers must adopt technologies that improve senior care, enhance productivity and counter employee turnover.

Long-term care providers don’t have the luxury of waiting for a brighter day to address staffing shortages. They must act now to ensure they can take care of residents today and tomorrow.

 Finding Creative Ways Technology Can Retain Employees

In resolving these issues, senior living operators have several conflicting challenges:

  • They must compete with other operators for talent.
  • They have to find creative ways to retain staff by rethinking and improving the employee experience.
  • They must contain costs.

Digital transformation and workforce management technologies are the answers to many of these issues. They can help attract and retain employees while streamlining hiring and onboarding practices.

In fact, technology is changing and improving the way long-term care operators manage their facilities and empower staff to provide personal care to residents.

Meeting employee needs with mobile workforce management 

Mobile workforce management is freeing staff from other concerns, enabling workers to anticipate and meet the needs of residents like never before.

Another way to enhance the ability of staff to provide quality personal care is to help workers to ensure their own needs are also being met.

A way to illustrate this is to consider why airline passengers are routinely instructed to take care of their own need for oxygen before helping their neighbor during an emergency because they will be better able to assist fellow passengers when their needs are met.

By the same token, stressed-out or distracted staff in a long-term care facility may have trouble focusing  their full attention on residents. The fewer personal worries workers have, the more they are free to provide quality care.

SmartLinx technology provides breathing room for employees, allowing them to focus on residents  with fewer work-related worries. For example, the mobile workforce management app enables employees to balance work and life priorities by easily accessing and adjusting their work schedules at any time from any place. Workers can check their time-off balances, as well as open shifts and schedules.

Workers can use the app to swap shifts, submit requests for PTO and view key information any time of the day, any day of the week. The app also allows employees to punch in and out of work quickly and easily.

SmartLinx employee scheduling technology also makes managing competing needs easier for operators. It frees administrators from having to manually adjust nurse schedules as resident census values change. The workforce management system can do this automatically.

This helps fulfill compliance requirements while also helping to minimize expensive overtime and close open shifts as they become available.

SmartLinx also has an intuitive, centralized messaging system that eases resolution of staffing issues and provides a unified platform for real-time communications between management and staff. This fosters a more engaged workforce. It makes it easy for employees to tell management if they’re running late or have a problem. They can submit a request related to payroll or human resources.

The messaging center also provides a platform for managers to post open shifts, making them immediately visible to eligible employees. It facilitates collaboration, allowing staff and management to work together to meet employee scheduling needs.

How workforce management technology helps retain employees

It’s critical that long-term care and senior living campuses are enabled by technology. This helps to drive efficiencies, especially at a time of staffing shortages and employees feeling overworked because of COVID-19.

Researchers report that 20% of senior care employees say insufficient technology is a factor in burnout. By making senior living facilities more attractive places to work, technology can help mitigate staff shortages. 

As described above, SmartLinx workforce management can automate caregiver workflows and enhance collaboration to increase staff satisfaction and reduce turnover.

A bonus is that technology in the workplace helps attract younger, tech-savvy workers who feel most comfortable using cyber tools in their lives. In fact, without such technology being used in the workplace, it wouldn’t be surprising for younger workers to become frustrated by missed opportunities for efficiency.

At the same time, its ease of use helps engage baby boomer staff in technology, making them receptive to technology solutions in other areas.

In summary, SmartLinx workforce management technology is the answer to navigating the complexities of the long-term-care work environment by making scheduling, workflow and communications simple, facilitating compliance and improving the employee experience.

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