LeadingAge 2022: Tackling elder care staff shortages with technology

How can senior care technology and processes help alleviate staffing shortages?

“COVID-19 accelerated chronic staffing shortages in aging services. At the same time, technology can automate repetitive tasks and increase efficiencies when processes are streamlined,” said Majd Alwan, senior vice president of technology and business strategy at LeadingAge and executive director of the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies.

However, technology alone is not enough, according to Steven VanderVelde, Director of Senior Living Partnerships at ProviNET Solutions. He explained that organizations must have a strategic IT plan that fits within their overall strategic plans. A technology partner can help organizations tailor their plans to their specific needs.

Travis Gleinig, CIO of United Methodist Communities, recommended that senior care organizations work with providers who share the same strategic vision. Additionally, leaders should start with a three-year plan to stay flexible.

“Several game-changing technologies have been released in the last 18 months,” he said. “If you get stuck in a plan, you may find yourself in technical debt and unable to adapt.”

DISCOVER: Best practices for digital transformation in elderly care.

When creating a strategic IT plan, it is important to involve everyone involved in the process, including residents and staff.

To support these strategic IT plans and investments, aged care facilities require a strong network infrastructure. Robust connectivity across campus, and not just in common areas, is beneficial for both residents and employees, as strong Wi-Fi and bandwidth can support devices and technologies to improve experiences, health, and workflows.

Once the plan and supporting technology are in place, senior care organizations can begin implementing technology and processes to better support existing staff. Gleinig suggested that organizations consider technology grants to help fund implementations.

His organization implemented VirtuSense’s VSTAlert system to reduce falls. As a result, he said, falls involving injuries fell by 71 percent. According to Gleinig, the solution made fall prevention more efficient and effective, and improved the nursing staff’s ability to care for patients.

Creating a dedicated IT services role or technical concierge takes the pressure off employees to answer questions and frees them to focus on their scheduled tasks.

Sheri Rose, CEO of Thrive Innovation Center, added that while virtual reality isn’t new, it is making a difference in educating the workforce, with some solutions demonstrating how seniors or those with disabilities can experience the world to be more compassionate to create in older caregivers.

How data analysis can change workflows in post-acute care

“In terms of human resources, the past two years have been incredible. Nurses are being asked to do more with less and are burned out,” said Kathy Derleth, senior clinical account manager at Real Time Medical Systems. “How can we make everyday work easier for employees?”

She suggested focusing on a replicable strategy, namely reducing administrative burdens through data analysis.

Angela Huffman, vice president of clinical services at Affinity Health Services, said that a data analytics platform has enabled her organization to “work smarter, not harder, by leveraging technology to empower employees to do their best work.”

A data analytics platform can collect and relay relevant information about which patients need additional care. Huffman explained that the solution reduced paperwork and the time nurses spent going through large amounts of paper files on a daily basis. This streamlined the process of preparing for morning meetings and shortened meeting times, allowing the clinical team to quickly create new treatment plans and prevent hospitalizations or infections.


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