Early in the pandemic, even the most experienced home care organizations acknowledged their lack of preparation for the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic forced home care and the entire healthcare continuum to adapt overnight.
According to current estimates, we can expect the virus to be a part of our lives for a long time. How will our past experiences prepare us for the future and what innovations are we likely to carry forward as we provide care?
Caring for COVID-19 Clients and Training Caregivers
Prior to the pandemic, non-medical home care organizations rarely, if ever, used personal protective equipment (PPE). The sudden appearance of COVID-19 posed a major challenge to acquire the necessary PPE supplies, like gowns, surgical masks and gloves.
Organizations then trained their staff on proper handwashing, strict infection control procedures, processes for putting on and removing PPE, cleaning of equipment and disposal of waste.
Caregivers were coached and trained on how to properly isolate infected clients in the home and how to manage the isolation with family members in the residence.
Home care will continue to keep PPE supplies on hand and maintain ready access to extra supplies in the event of a spike or hot spot in their region. Organizations have become very focused on having access to virtual training programs necessary for caregivers and clinicians to safely perform their jobs.
Technology Solutions for Communicating with Clients and Families
Home care organizations adapted many of their operations out of necessity during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Technology provided many useful solutions. Clients who were already using smart devices adjusted quickly in communicating with their home care organizations. Some clients learned how to use technology during this time by borrowing their children’s devices to stay connected.
As far as technology communication opportunities, home care organizations that had invested in technology with features like family portals had their communication solutions in place. Organizations without this technology gathered information about each client’s access to devices, such as iPhone, landline, iPad and Android, and developed a structured way to communicate through Zoom, Skype and other technology-focused approaches.
Family portals were already coming into greater use, as they demonstrated their extraordinary value prior to the pandemic. Clients will continue to use devices for many purposes beyond communication, meaning virtual visits and remote monitoring will continue to be used more widely.
Reimbursement for expanded use of technology will inevitably grow. The home care industry needs to inform state licensure regulatory bodies about the effective use of technology by providing data on improved outcomes to encourage regulatory updates.
Empowering Remote Clinicians and Caregivers
During the pandemic, many home care organizations had to restrict clinicians and caregivers from coming into the office. This posed a challenge for organizations who did not have technology in place that supported remote work.
Organizations that had point-of-care documentation capabilities were significantly advantaged. Point-of-care documentation increases efficiency, accuracy, compliance and security, and offered a significant advantage to organizations during the pandemic.
With point-of-care documentation, nurses enter assessments and supervisory notes at the completion of visits. Caregivers enter notes on the customized templates at the end of their shifts.
Using the quality assurance (QA) review feature, QA staff reviews the documentation. If edits or additions are needed, QA messages the caregiver about required changes. The caregiver enters changes, and the electronic system notifies QA that the changes have been sent.
Organizations can use the QA system for all caregiver notes or there is the option to select the caregivers or clients for QA review. Another benefit is that your QA system enables administrators to send a note to commend a caregiver as well.
COVID-19 required us to adapt, innovate and remain flexible.
Paste paragraph text. As we examine new innovations and improved approaches to care, we will carry forward the most valuable of these as our best practices for the future.
Axxess Home Care, a cloud-based home care software, provides valuable training resources for caregivers, includes the convenient and secure Family Portal for transparency and communication and allows for documentation at the point of care on any device.