Few people, especially those within healthcare, are unaware that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the nursing home and long-term care areas of the care continuum harder than anywhere else. The skilled nursing environment has, unfortunately, become a place where COVID-19 is easily transferred between patients, residents, family members, and staff, necessitating lockdowns, the prohibition of visitors, and elimination of resident gatherings. While some measures have been successful in preventing additional widespread infection and loss of life, there are inherent challenges for this care environment in the face of a pandemic. According to a recent media briefing about nursing facilities and the COVID-19 pandemic, Duke University eldercare experts emphasized that “Nursing homes will continue to be COVID-19 hotspots until state and federal officials can institute sweeping testing of asymptomatic patients and workers.”
This blog post continues our series based on the HealthStream article, 10 Considerations for COVID-19 and Long-Term Care, which examines specific considerations and recommendations to improve the prospects for people living in this long term care, offered by three Duke experts in the eldercare and public policy space.
It’s Never Been So Important for Nursing Facilities to Embrace Internet Connectivity
Nursing homes must move ahead in their efforts to encourage internet connectivity and use, as well as provide the necessary hardware to do so. Boucher shares a typical scenario where “If a facility is lucky, it has one iPad that goes around from patient to patient.” There are concerns for this model in terms of limited access to technology as well as infection control. However, for many facilities, Boucher adds, “That’s not adequate for possibly hundreds of residents who might want to be connecting virtually with their friends and family.” Care communities should enhance these efforts and take full advantage of technology to keep people connected. McConnell suggests expanding technology access and assets by “taking advantage of civil monetary penalty funds to support this type of effort,” and offers that “I have heard some of my colleagues in acute care talking about how an iPad is now just another piece of medical equipment.” She adds that if acute care can get tablets into the workflow and manage infection control, skilled nursing and assisted living can do the same.
About the Experts
Nathan Boucher is an Assistant Research Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. He studies patients’ and caregivers’ experiences and expectations of health care delivery during advanced illness and near the end of life.
Eleanor Schildwachter McConnell is an Associate Professor at the Duke University School of Nursing. She studies factors that influence functional decline in very frail older adults. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Donald Taylor is a Professor of Public Policy who researches aging and comparative health systems, including Medicare, long-term care, and health policy. Taylor also directs Duke’s Social Science Research Center.
Lifelong Learners Make the Greatest Caregivers
Ensuring your caregivers are prepared for anything means everything. At HealthStream, we believe in improving clinical and business outcomes by first investing in the people on the front lines. Together, let’s strengthen our approach to improve the quality of healthcare. Elevate your people, optimize your outcomes. Learn more about our workforce development solutions for assisted living and long-term care.
HealthStream’s learning management system and comprehensive suite of competency management tools empower your healthcare workforce to deliver the best patient care.View All Learning & Performance
When you enact HealthStream's quality compliance solutions, you can do so with the confidence your healthcare organization will meet all standards of care.View All Quality & Compliance
Fulfill compliance requirements with a variety of programs and courseware designed to address critical regulatory requirements as well as educate staff to recognize and mitigate risks.View All Products
HealthStream offers professional training and education on how to best optimize your reimbursement process within your healthcare organization.View All Reimbursement
Improve the preparedness of your staff, increase survival rates, and cut costs with the advanced resuscitation training services from HealthStream.View All Resuscitation
Expand the decision-making skills and effectiveness of your healthcare workforce with HealthStream's clinical development programs and services.View All Clinical Development
Delivers everything you need to request, gather, and validate information about a provider to create a single source of truth for downstream processes.View All Credentialing
Make sure your healthcare staff can schedule out appointments and work schedules with ease using HealthStream's line of software solutions.View All Scheduling & Capacity Management