|We asked a random group of clients for their responses in relation to using HCSL Aged Care Cloud based software.
What do you like best about the HCSL software and your current use of it? Below is their responses:
We are very pleased to have recently been granted 4 year MOH Certification! No corrective actions and three Continuous Improvements.
This follows on from a fully attained Partial Provisional Audit that was required prior to opening our two new wings earlier this year with no corrective actions.
Make no mistake! HCSL policies, software and support have played a major part in these accomplishments. The HCSL software we use means we have easy access to information in real time.
I started working with Gillian of HCSL shortly after I took on the role of Facility Nurse Manager at Bethsaida Retirement Village six years ago. The facility was not using Healthcare Compliance Solutions policies at the time and perhaps this was reflected in the previous audit results.
Gillian is always responsive to emails and phone calls which is critical when timely advice is required.
The HCSL regular newsletters are interesting with relevant and up to date information on issues affecting aged care.
Gillian is a lovely person to deal with. She is thoughtful, professional, pragmatic and I have always found her to be keen to help, with practical advice on any issues that might arise in the management of a retirement facility.
I thoroughly recommend HCSL to all aged care facilities.
Tracy Holdaway RN BN
Facility Nurse Manager
Bethsaida Retirement Village
The question of whether mandated minimum nursing hours would work has been asked previously. The workload of care and nursing staff is frequently discussed with staff reporting they are pressured for time to complete all the necessary duties assigned. The Nursing staff have different but over-lapping functions to care staff. When reviewing your staffing, it’s important to include a number of factors into any review when looking at the productivity and efficiency of your team.
We suggest you look at not only leadership and skill-mix, which are vital for safe services but also consider other factors. These can include the location of high acuity needs residents within your service. With an increase in the use of dual beds, the mix between rest home and higher acuity hospital level of care are now intermingled and not specifically allocated to one area of the building. This means the Registered Nurses providing clinical monitoring and oversight may have to spread their attention to a much more fragmented and broader geographical area in your service than was previously the case.
The location of resources and time spent looking for items of use and equipment could be minimised if more thought was put into the design of new facilities and the locating and management of replenishing stores for ready access by staff as and where they need them. Who does the running and fetching could also be considered in work roles so staff with high end clinical skills are spending the bulk of their time on performing functions specific to their role and skill. Not doing tasks that could be better delegated to others.
After the recent sudden closure of a care facility in Australia without apparent planning or communication with families, there has been outrage that such a thing could happen. The “Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced her Government would order fixed nurse-to-resident ratios in state-owned aged-care facilities.” The ABC news report (19th July 2019) goes on to say “at least 50 per cent of staff having contact with residents in 16 publicly run aged-care centres to be nurses.” I don’t know if by nurses they mean Registered Nurses only and not Enrolled nurses but I can’t help wonder if this alone will ensure safety.
One year on from Simon Wallace (NZACA CEO) reporting on staffing shortages, we haven’t seen any improvement it would seem! In New Zealand an increasing proportion of our Registered Nurses have come to New Zealand to practice with no prior working knowledge of aged care services. They frequently have limited aged care related experience to conduct the complex assessment and clinical management of high acuity residents in a residential care setting. This is not to diminish their value as we can’t provide the services needed otherwise.
What I’m trying to highlight in the current circumstances is, we’re frequently seeing nurses set up to fail or provide less than safe care as they simply don’t have the experience in this specialised field of nursing. I recall conversations in the early 1990’s predicting a massive nursing shortage. It appears that in the time-span between then and now, we haven’t addressed this issue.
We welcome comments and suggestions of how this could be addressed here in New Zealand before we end up in the depths of a staffing crisis which halts care.
Prior to contracting a Physiotherapist, or as part of your Physiotherapy service review process, you should consider what your goal is in having physiotherapy input. These should include key values such as Meaningful Outcomes for residents.
We asked Jessie Snowden of On The Go Physio what should felt was important for a Physiotherapy programme to which she offered the following:
For us this means we carry out thorough assessments, find out what is important or meaningful to the resident, their whānau and how this impacts their functioning in the aged care environment. Our input with people can range from rehabilitation to a previous level of function. This may be intensive physio input for a few weeks, to ensuring someone is safe and comfortable with appropriate seating and pressure care at the end of life (which could be one visit only).
This level of assessment means that you need to ‘budget’ for 40-60 minutes (sometimes longer for complicated admissions) of physiotherapy time for a new assessment and possibly longer if they are needing to make referrals, liaise with other services and family. Follow up visits will be shorter. It is recommended that if you have a set number of hours per week that your staff and the physiotherapist are clear on expectations and priorities. If you only contract 2 hours per week it is not fair to have 10 new assessments on your ‘urgent’ list!
Some facilities have a set standard of 6 monthly reviews of all their residents. Although we do undertake these if asked, it is often more meaningful to use physiotherapy skills for those residents who may improve with input, or who your staff need assistance with due to functional decline. We suggest if a 6 monthly review is wanted, then the RN is able to carry this out by considering if there have been changes in mobility, falls rates or other physical changes affecting function. If not then your physiotherapy dollar could be better spent on residents with clear rehabilitation needs or declining function. The key goal here being to optimise mobility and maintain as much independence as possible.
Once the Physiotherapy service is up and running you can expect your physiotherapist to provide a clearly written assessment and a clear treatment plan, including either a discharge comment or a review date. Ideally you will maintain data related to Physiotherapy input and be able to see clearly if your allocated time is meeting the needs of your staff and residents.
Finally consider which residents will be eligible for physiotherapy assessments. If you are funding a Physiotherapy service you may choose to extend this to your hospital level and rest home level of care residents but not to independent studio units/apartments as these residents will usually be eligible for DHB funded services. Some DHBs will happily provide physiotherapy to rest home level of care residents and some put guidelines around who they will see. Depending on your DHB and care philosophy you may choose only to fund Physiotherapy services to hospital level of care residents or to extend this to rest home. In our company we work with aged care facilities who operate under both of these models and the key is to have it clear to both your Physiotherapist and staff who are completing referrals.
Spend your dollar wisely!
A final note here. Physiotherapists are highly skilled healthcare professionals who will be an asset to your team. The days of Physiotherapists spending all their time on walking programmes are long gone and you should set your expectations high for a physiotherapist who will add quality of life to your residents and cost benefit to your organisation. To use your physiotherapist wisely I strongly recommend you have the expectation that your care staff will have time to walk with people who are safe to do so. We also encourage you to employ or allocate a Physiotherapy assistant hours into your roster to implement Physiotherapy plans. For information on using Physiotherapy assistants please look at an earlier article here .
This article was kindly contributed by Jessie Snowdon – Director of On the Go Physio. On the Go Physio provide physiotherapy services to over 20 facilities in Christchurch and Moving and Handling training to many more facilities and the CDHB.
This is a good time to be reminded that disaster management or your security policy may need to be extended to include management of threats, both internal and external to your organisation. During the past years I’ve been personally involved with facilities where a resident entered the facility with a fire-arm, an intruder break-in during the night with a fire-arm, and another where intruders who entered the facility went into an occupied residents room. This last case related to intruders who had allegedly held-up the local bottle store earlier that same day.
Things happen which we don’t expect and we must be prepared as best we can. It’s impossible to cover every possible eventuality but when events such as the shootings in Christchurch occur, it’s a reminder to ask are we doing enough? For example, staff security rounds should be strictly enforced and documented to verify these were carried out. If you have surveillance cameras, where are your blind spots? If it’s the staff car park for staff going off duty late at night, improvements are desirable for staff safety. What about your processes for visitor verification?
Security isn’t just about the people and environment but also about assets and information. These should all be detailed in your policy documents.
HCSL are currently updating the security policies we provide ARC services to include reduction of risk from internal and external threats. This includes a procedure for lock-down. Let’s hope we never need to use it!
For those of you wondering about how to debrief with your staff as a means to support them, there are some great resources available here. For more resources on supporting others in relation to disaster type events, go here.
On the 25th April each year we remember those who went before us to fight for the protection of others. While emphasis is often on those who died in service to their country, it’s also a time to remember those who returned from war changed and altered forever by the experiences they’ve had. Not just for the soldiers going and returning to war but their family.
The mother who describes holding her son as he heads off to the front line. Embracing him, breathing in his smell which a mother knows so well. Holding her head against his chest hearing the beat of his heart wondering if she’ll ever be able to hold him and hear his heart beat again. Feeling the harshness of the fabric of his uniform and wondering what other harshness he’ll encounter.
The soldier as a member of a family, not only left grieving mothers behind but were sometimes already parents themselves going off to war leaving wives and children behind. All family members impacted in their own way from their own perspective of events. How does a wife or child accept the decision of the men in their life going to war, to do ones duty leaving children wondering why they were being deserted in favour of the uncertainty of battle? Those children then growing older day by day until the time they themselves are in their 80’s and find themselves still welling up in tears at the memory of the day their father left to go to battle. Not understanding but seeing the change in the father who returns, different, distant and ill from the effects of sand breathed into his lungs while stationed in Egypt. The soldier returning, having nightmares of horrors seen which cannot be unseen or forgotten. Limbs and body intact but emotional scars and ongoing adverse health issues. Not all wounds are visible.
I visited the Gallipoli exhibit at the Museum of New Zealand ‘Te Papa’ (our place) in Wellington with my mother and sister. I was mesmerized and deeply affected by the raw emotion depicted in the models created for the exhibit by Weta Workshop. The image of this nurse, Staff Nurse Lottie Le Gallais who was on board the hospital ship Maheno which set out from Wellington. She’d hoped to catch up with her brother but the model shows the anguish of the moment she receives her returned letters to him saying “killed, return to sender”. I can’t imagine the strength needed to sustain such pain amidst the anguish of war but still carry on to serve those needing care.
I live in Christchurch and after the recent terrorist attack resulting in the death of 50 people, we’re seeing and feeling the result of war-like destruction of life. You see it in the faces of those closely affected. The internal pain of senseless loss.
A time to ponder on the Anzac values of courage, compassion, commitment and comradeship and see if they are reflected in our own organisations as relevant to care services. This Thursday, 25th April, Anzac day is a time to reflect and be grateful – lest we forget.
Since the emergence of residential care facilities in New Zealand, the models of care have continued to change, but are they changing fast enough? The clinical needs of residents have escalated and so the way services are provided must also reflect a change in practice to meet changing resident needs. A common theme being reported among older member of our communities is that of isolation and depression. Isolation, according to the Collins dictionary relates to separation, withdrawal, loneliness and segregation.
I was fortunate to visit Greece recently which is reputed to have a larger proportion of older adults than most other EU countries. Gerontology is derived from the Greek words geron, “old man” and -logia, “study of” so it made sense to discuss models of care with families and health care professionals including pharmacists. I discovered there are few residential care services in Greece and those that do exist are found mostly in Athens rather than the islands. Families provide the majority of care with ‘family’ being noted as the key foundation to Greek society. Grandparents are frequently living within the extended family with the younger generations and taking responsibility for caring for their grandchildren. The economy is poor and social networks are heavily relied on to provide support.
From my observations, conversations with others, and literature, the older adults of Greece are kept actively engaged in the community. They are frequently involved in running family businesses if they are not relied on for supporting the needs of their children or grandchildren. Family networks remain strong and when interviewing people about how older adults will be cared for, the automatic assumption is that family will provide that service. Dr Elizabeth Mestheneos told me that approximately 1% of their older population may well be in residential homes. There are Open Care Community centres in virtually every Local Authority which are called KAPI. There are also Help at Home services and Day care centres in some Local authorities.
The models of care and workforce capacity currently in place in New Zealand are unlikely to meet increasing demands so change is needed. The aged care sector could lead change as new models are developed, trialed and advanced. Multiple studies confirm these new models need to include holistic, consumer directed services. Not only meeting physical needs but also social connections and the opportunity to be involved in meaningful activities that contribute to others. This also includes some use of technology to support connections with others. While they are of assistance to some, there is no substitute for human connection, person to person, face to face. The experience of ageing, social network supports, funding models and the context in which care and support are provided certainly differ from country to country.
In New Zealand residential care settings we have activities / recreational programmes which support inclusion and engagement. Being involved in meaningful activities are also key factors in contributing to a sense of well-being. I observed older adults in Greece undertaking meaningful activities in the community like feeding the communal cats of Kos or looking after grandchildren, continuing to run a second hand open-air shop to add to the family income or playing games with friends games. Groups of older men often congregated outside cafes for conversation, coffee and playing cards or board games. A Menzshed story reflects on how one New Zealand community are attempting to address the gap ageing can create in the life of some men. While funding is different in NZ to Greece and the family network is more often scattered geographically in New Zealand, there remains more opportunity to include community. The care setting could also be enhanced more by reflecting the smaller numbers of people we are used to living with in the family home, rather than the larger numbers in some care facilities. A model that more closely reflects the life patterns our community members have been used to, with them directing how these continue into the latter years of life with the goal of ageing in a healthy way, optimising body, brain and social networks.
Mattresses aren’t just something to lie on but if not maintained and cared for appropriately, also have the potential for causing harm.
As I travel a lot for work, I have the opportunity to test many different mattresses, all with varying degrees of comfort. This reminds me how difficult it must be for those who may be suffering painful joints to get a good night’s sleep. Appropriate mattresses are not only required to reduce pain from positioning discomfort but also reducing risk to residents. This include ensuring the mattresses are of a suitable standard and fit for purpose.
I’ve seen a number of mattresses which had hardened and torn linings and were well past being able to provide much comfort or an appropriate degree of pressure support. Some had masking tape used in an attempt to cover splits in the mattress cover. Others had holes in and were badly stained from exposure to body substances. As the residents in care are becoming frailer, with increasing acuity, the need for ensuring appropriate pressure support is crucial to preventing pressure injuries, maintaining comfort and maximizing the opportunity for good sleep.
There is the potential for old and in poor condition mattresses to be a potential source for infection transmission. For those of you operating newer facilities, this may not yet be an issue. For older facilities, part of stock and resource control should include mattress stock checks to verify they are in fact still fit for use. When conducting checks, determine the mix of mattress types you have and speak with your supplier about a replacement programme should this be necessary. As mattresses differ, so do beds and it’s important to make sure the mattress you use is appropriate for the particular bed type and size.
When reviewing your mattress stocks and purchasing new mattresses you might like to think about the following factors:
- Only purchase from reputable suppliers. Review the manufacturer’s instructions for use to ensure they include verification of cleaning instructions and ask about preventative maintenance. This may include staffing training e.g. via the use of online training videos or instruction booklets.
- Make sure you record the date of purchase and do your best to track each mattress and pillow to maximize warranties and make plans for replacement. Add the item to the facility cleaning schedules for regular cleaning and drying of exterior surfaces which should be durable, water-repellent and quick drying. They should also be seamless, if possible. When there are seams or edges, much sure these are situated away from resident skin contact to prevent absorption of liquid into interior and increased friction.
- All seams must be tightly closed and sealed. Masking or packaging tape is not appropriate for sealing. When mattresses become worn and tear, you might like to have a supplier representative review to see what options are available for repair or replacement.
- When reviewing the condition of mattresses, inspect all mattress surfaces, covers, seams and zippers for proper function and damage including wear, tears, splits, cracks, punctures, permanent odours and stains. If visible contamination from body substances are present, determine appropriate steps (eg. replacement or repair).
- To support longevity of mattresses, remind staff not to place any furniture or sharp objects on mattresses. Protect the mattress with mattress protectors only if advised by the supplier this is appropriate. A number of pressure support functions in mattresses may be adversely impacted by the use of additional mattress coverings to do check.
- Cleaning and disinfection must be considered in relation to mattresses, covers, wedges, cushions and pillows which are all classified as non-critical medical devices. Clean and low-level disinfect according to the manufacturer’s instructions between different resident use and when visibly soiled. Some mattress covers are removable for laundering so remember to verify which ones can be cleaned separately.
- Remove damaged or stained items from service and report these in your maintenance book or to the Manager. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use and disposal of damaged mattresses, covers, and pillows, and in accordance with infection prevention and control guidelines.
- Ensure when using alternating therapy type mattresses that there is a process in place for a shift by shift verification that the pressure is maintained at the current level for the individual resident utilizing that mattress. If you plan to use an air alternating topper pad on a mattress, ensure it’s suitable for the mattress as depending on heights and size, it may not be appropriate.
Harm prevention can also be supported with advances in technology such as Pressure Monitoring sensing devices to ensure appropriate pressure distribution. I’m not aware of anyone who can rent or lease out Pressure Mappers in NZ. However Cubro have one that they can bring onsite to facilities for training and education. Make contact with your supplier to see if they can assist if this could be useful for you.
Also remember that other devices used in beds should be checked as well to ensure they are still safe and appropriate for use eg; wedges, rolls, pillows, seat cushions, mattress covers (where these are appropriate for use), bed sensor monitoring pads. For reading on how to choose the best mattress option for your needs go here.
For more related information view here.
Article compiled by Gillian Robinson (RN, BN, Lead Auditor) for Healthcare Compliance Solutions Ltd.
Empathy and perspective are two concepts well known Leadership author Simon Sinek speaks about in relation to leaders. He talks about the real job of a leader as not being in-charge but taking care of those in our charge. How many leaders play the blame and shame game when things don’t go as planned? Instead how would it be if leaders in aged care services worked in accordance with a Leader’s Oath. My version is noted below as an example.
You may want to create your own for your organisation, or adopt this.
The Leader’s Oath
I focus on the betterment of this organisation above my own career needs
I focus on accountability above the need to be popular
I focus on caring for those in my charge over being in charge
I focus on clarity above certainty
I share clear expectations
I hold myself accountable for all employees poor performance including my own
I welcome respectful challenges
I will table the tough issues
I treat all interactions as though my career depends on a successful outcome
I am committed to personal and professional development
I am focused on excellence.
While the above Leadership Oath forms a focus for clinical leadership, it’s necessary to make sure your nurses are familiar with the ARRC funding agreement responsibilities for Registered Nurses. These are also clearly defined in the HCSL policies and procedures to ensure they’re integrated into practice. The ARRC includes time-frames for nursing documentation responsibilities, while the nursing council guidelines for delegation define staff delegation of staff working under the supervision of Registered Nurses are appropriate led and supported. When we refer to tabling the touch issues, one key aspect of leadership is holding staff accountable. Nurses are often not keen to hold others responsible for their conduct and performance and therefore avoid performance managing staff when performance is below the expected standard. This in turn means the service provided will be below the expected standard. If you want to provide the best care and support to those in your care, these are skills you must learn and put into daily practice. To learn more about these skills and others needed for leading a team of care and support staff, go here.
There are lots of ‘trendy’ words in each work environment but one of the most important concepts which appears to be increasingly missing particularly in aged care nursing is that of critical thinking and reflective practice. Critical thinking is the core foundation of good nursing practice.
It is essential to evaluate what is occurring clinically for those in care and regularly reviewing what is being done for each individual resident along with what else needs to be done in order to provide the best care. The skills of critical thinking may not be instinctive for example for those nurses coming from a schooling system which promotes ‘rote’ learning and deters from challenging senior staff. To question another may be seen in some settings as disrespectful however in the field of clinical care, to challenge and question is essential. The attributes of those who critically think and reflect on nursing practice and care outcomes use evidence-based practice (EBP) guidelines including current EBP policies and procedures to form decisions.
Some of the skills of critical thinking are more important than others and certainly the ability to reflect while communicating with other members of the team is essential to safe and person centred care. The nurse who has developed critical thinking skills is able to interpret, understand and explain the meaning of information. This can be event based or data based eg; reading lab result forms. Investigating possible interventions based on the information at hand and analysing which will achieve a desired outcome is also part of reflecting and critically evaluating a clinical scenario. Assessing the value of information to determine it’s relevance, reliability and credibility in relation to a particular clinical presentation is also necessary.
There are potential barriers to optimising clinical outcomes by clinical staff when a pre-determined bias or fixed mind-set are applied to a set of data or resident clinical presentation. It’s only in the bringing together of information through evaluation, analysis, communicating, referencing EBP guidelines and a growth mind-set that care can be optimised.
Click here to read more on critical thinking.