COVID-19 has significantly exacerbated staffing challenges in health care, but the senior care industry—particularly the nursing home sector—has been hit especially hard. Since March 2020, nursing homes throughout the United States have seen about 15% of its workforce leave, as cited in a recent AARP article.
Senior care has struggled with serious staffing issues since long before the pandemic, and it’s not surprising that more employees are leaving the field given the stress and burnout they’ve experienced over the last two and a half years. And those who have decided to stay are burdened with increasing demands and expectations to do more with less.
Sadly, those who work in senior care haven’t received the same level of “health care hero” recognition that others in health care—the doctors and nurses in hospitals for example—have received. But they should. These brave women and men put themselves at greatest risk—especially at the height of the pandemic when COVID-19 ravaged senior care communities—and to this day they continue facing significant obstacles resulting from the pandemic.
COVID-19 has also sparked new regulatory requirements in an already exorbitantly regulated industry. To further complicate matters, requirements are often duplicative or inconsistent given the volume of regulatory agencies and organizations that senior care providers must report to. Many of these requirements fall on the shoulders of direct care staff, taking precious time away from their ability to do what they do best; administer care.
When I founded Carefeed in 2019, my goal was to develop digital communications solutions that would make life easier for the health care heroes working in senior care, and that would ultimately support better resident care. Especially because of COVID-19 and the various communications-related requirements, many senior care communities have discovered that their traditional communications systems and processes were inadequate and inefficient and often unable to provide real-time communications solutions required in today's increasingly digital environment.
Recognizing that effective communications is critical in building trust and giving peace of mind and assurance to residents, families, staff and others, Carefeed developed a HIPAA-secure SaaS platform that digitizes and enables simplified distribution of information and materials senior communities share with residents, residents’ families, staff, referral sources and others. Carefeed’s easy-to-use solutions—which are already being used by some of the largest senior living companies in the United States —automate antiquated processes like paper admission agreements and calendars, phone-based safety announcements, care conference schedules and more, and seamlessly distribute them via text, email, and voice.
The pandemic reinvigorated my and my team’s passion to develop additional solutions to support effective communications in senior care, and we recently launched a Family Portal which complements our existing platform. The Family Portal provides a one-stop hub for family members to access information specific to their loved ones in addition to important community-wide updates, and it can be accessed from a community’s existing website. The Portal is customizable and senior care communities can control what features and information to make available.
Providing convenient access to information isn’t just a best practice, in some cases it’s the law. When it comes to patient requests for electronic health information, for example, the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) prohibits providers from delaying or inhibiting the availability of requested information—and it must be provided at no charge—including when requested from designated family members.
To help communities make access to information convenient for families AND staff—and to comply with laws and regulatory requirements—our new Family Portal empowers and equips families with easy access to information while also alleviating administrative and documentation burdens for staff.
Effective communication is more important than ever as senior care communities grapple to address ever-growing challenges, requirements, and expectations of operating in a post-pandemic environment. At Carefeed, we’re here to support these communities—and the health care heroes who work there— with cost-effective, timesaving solutions.