Delivering Comfort, Safety, and Health in Nursing Homes with Integrated Technology
Author(s): William Parkinson, Posted on August 21st, 2017
Promoting comfort, safety, and health for residents are top concerns for nursing homes. New technologies are bringing fresh opportunities for exactly that! Here are four ways that technology is already – or soon will be – transforming the nursing home environment.
#1. Make Connection and Comfort Quick and Easy
Web cams are ubiquitous – but have you considered the benefit they can bring to a nursing home resident? For example, you could have a camera (with appropriate privacy incorporated) that could let you check in on your grandmother at any time. Then, take it a step further. Suppose your grandmother looks lonely. You click a button on the portal screen to notify a staff member to bring an iPad to your grandmother. In moments, you are chatting with her using a video app and cheering her up. But why stop there? You could also use a portal to provide services for your grandmother, such as scheduling a manicure to brighten up a boring day. No one knows your loved one better than you: who is better qualified to select services and activities that will contribute to the best quality of life?
#2. Protect Residents When They Go Home
Nursing home residents frequently go home for a visit, particularly for holidays or special events; however, care for their health should not stop just because they have crossed the nursing home’s threshold. By combining patient tracking solutions with wearable medical devices, nursing home staff can be notified of any changes in the person’s health. For example, vital signs could change, indicating illness, a fall, missed medications, or a medical emergency. The nursing home could then alert either the resident’s family or doctor to ensure that appropriate action is taken for the person’s health. Such alerts could actually circumvent serious problems: for instance, noting that a resident’s blood pressure is beginning to rise gives the doctor or family time to treat the situation immediately and proactively, before it evolves into a crisis.
#3. Prevent the Spread of Germs
Hand sanitizers are on every wall in a nursing home – and rightly so, since infections pose a constant risk and can be serious for the health of elderly people. But are hand sanitizers being used properly? With today’s technology, hand sanitizer usage can be monitored and managed down to the level of the individual staff member. Staff can even be alerted if a certain amount of time has elapsed since the last use of hand sanitizer. Through such hygiene vigilance, health is safeguarded and residents can live longer lives.
#4. Stop the Fall Before It Happens
Fall alert systems for senior citizens are tremendously beneficial – but at this point are largely reactive. New technology is now enabling institutions to help stop the fall before it happens. For example, suppose a certain medication has dizziness as a side effect, so a resident should not get up and walk around for two hours after taking a dose. A patient tracking solution could be tied in to the nurse call system to send an alert if movement is noted within that critical timeframe. A staff member could then go and intercept the resident before a fall potentially occurs. Other technologies could also be utilized to prevent falls, for instance, sending an alert if a resident became wobbly on their feet or experienced a drop in blood pressure.
The common thread that runs through all these opportunities is integration. Technologies must be integrated via a single platform so that data can freely flow between systems and be analyzed in real-time, allowing appropriate action to be taken.
Most of these technologies exist today, developed from proven analytics. The integration – and the insights, opportunities, and improvements it brings – can be yours.
To explore how integrating data across service areas in a nursing home can help derive meaningful insights that enhance resident care, click here.