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How to Improve Nursing Culture With Advanced Health Care Technologies<p>​The nursing shortage not only continues to place significant strain on health care facilities globally, but it also consistently presents some of the most prominent challenges impacting the patient care journey.</p><p><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/dr_tech_medical.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;270px;height&#58;193px;" />While addressing the nursing shortage remains a priority for organizations across the senior care industry, it is equally crucial to explore how advanced health care technologies can revolutionize nursing culture, creating a transformative and empowering environment for nurses. When health care executives embrace these innovative technologies, they can unlock opportunities to enhance workflow efficiency, promote evidence-based practice, and foster a collaborative and patient-centric nursing culture, among other progress.</p><p>Nursing professionals are at the forefront of patient care, dedicating their expertise, compassion, and skills to promote wellness and healing. However, administrative burdens, time-consuming tasks, and limited resources often hinder their ability to provide optimal care and go above and beyond for the patients in their care. In this article, I dive deeper into the potential of advanced health care technologies to overcome these challenges, offering insights into how technology can empower nurses and improve their work environments.</p><h3>Enhancing Workflow Efficiency with Automation</h3><p>One of the most impactful ways to improve nursing culture is leveraging technology to enhance workflow efficiency through automation. Nurses often find themselves burdened with administrative tasks that consume a significant portion of their time and detract from direct patient care. By implementing automation solutions, health care facilities can alleviate these burdens and enable nurses to focus more on what they do best—providing compassionate and high-quality care to patients.</p><p>Automation technology can streamline various aspects of nursing workflows, including documentation, scheduling, and inventory management. Traditionally, these tasks have been manual and time-consuming, often leading to increased stress and reduced job satisfaction among nurses. Automating these routine processes frees up valuable time for nurses to dedicate to patient care, ultimately improving the overall nursing culture within the organization.</p><p>For example, automated documentation systems can significantly reduce the time spent on manual charting and paperwork. Electronic health record (EHR) systems and speech recognition technology allow nurses to quickly and accurately document patient information, reducing the risk of errors and allowing for seamless information sharing among care teams.&#160;</p><p>Automation also optimizes nurse scheduling, taking into account factors such as nurse availability, shift preferences, and patient needs, ensuring that the right nurses are assigned to the right shifts. This can help minimize scheduling conflicts, reduce the administrative burden on nurses, and promote a more balanced and efficient allocation of resources.</p><p>With reduced administrative burdens, nurses can experience a renewed sense of professional fulfillment, leading to increased job satisfaction and improved retention rates within the organization. It also contributes to a more collaborative and interdisciplinary nursing culture as well.</p><h3>Leveraging Data Analytics for Informed Decision-Making</h3><p>Data analytics is a game-changer in health care. The ability to collect, analyze, and interpret vast amounts of data has the potential to transform nursing culture and enhance patient care outcomes. It allows nurses to make evidence-based decisions, improve clinical outcomes, and drive continuous quality improvement within their health care facilities.</p><p>EHRs have revolutionized the way patient data is captured, stored, and utilized. With the integration of data analytics tools into EHR systems, nurses gain access to a wealth of information that can drive informed decision-making. Data analytics allows nurses to identify trends, patterns, and correlations within patient populations, enabling them to develop targeted interventions and personalized care plans.</p><p>Additionally, data analytics empowers nurses to contribute to a culture of evidence-based practice. With these insights, nurses can align their interventions with the latest research, guidelines, and best practices. This evidence-based approach ensures that nursing care is grounded in the most up-to-date and effective strategies, enhancing the quality and safety of patient care.</p><p>Data analytics also facilitates collaboration and communication among health care professionals. By sharing data and insights with interdisciplinary care teams, nurses can contribute to comprehensive care plans, participate in case discussions, and promote coordinated care delivery. Data analytics tools enable nurses to collaborate effectively, share relevant information, and engage in data-driven discussions that result in improved patient outcomes and a more cohesive health care team.</p><p>Predictive analytics can also identify patterns and predict potential adverse events, allowing nurses to intervene proactively. For example, predictive analytics can help identify patients at high risk of developing complications, enabling nurses to initiate preventive measures and optimize care plans. This proactive approach not only improves patient safety but also empowers nurses by enabling them to anticipate and address potential challenges before they escalate.</p><h3>Empowering Nurses with Mobile Health Applications</h3><p>With the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, mobile health applications provide nurses with instant access to critical patient information, communication tools, and clinical resources, enabling them to provide efficient, coordinated, and patient-centric care.</p><p>One of the key advantages of mobile health applications is the ability to access and update patient information in real-time. Nurses can securely access EHRs; view vital signs, medication lists, and lab results; and document care activities directly at the point of care. This helps streamline information flow and enhance nursing workflow efficiency. Nurses can spend more time at the bedside, engaging with patients, and ensuring accurate and timely care delivery.</p><p>Effective communication is essential for coordinated care, and mobile health applications play a vital role in facilitating seamless communication among care teams. Nurses can use secure messaging features to communicate with physicians, pharmacists, and other members of the health care team, enabling quick consultations, care coordination, and timely decision-making.</p><p>Mobile health applications also offer opportunities for nursing professional development and knowledge sharing. Many applications provide access to educational resources, training modules, and forums for peer-to-peer collaboration. Nurses can stay updated with the latest advancements in their field, engage in continuous learning, and connect with colleagues to share best practices and experiences. This fosters a culture of lifelong learning and professional growth, enhancing nursing competence and job satisfaction.</p><p><img src="/Issues/2020/August/PublishingImages/JoelLandau.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;165px;height&#58;200px;" />The integration of advanced health care technologies has the potential to revolutionize nursing culture and address the challenges posed by the nursing shortage. Health care organizations that embrace innovative technology solutions can lead the way in transforming nursing culture and creating a sustainable and thriving health care system for the benefit of both nurses and patients.</p><p><em>Joel Landau is the founder and chairman of The Allure Group, a network of six New York City-based nursing homes.</em><br></p>2023-09-19T04:00:00Z<img alt="" height="519" src="/Articles/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/dr_tech_medical.jpg" width="740" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />TechnologyJoel LandauWhile addressing the nursing shortage remains a priority for organizations across the senior care industry, it is equally crucial to explore how advanced health care technologies can revolutionize nursing culture.
America’s Assisted Living Communities Celebrate “Season of Reflection”<p><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/NALW23.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;200px;" />Beginning today and continuing through Saturday, Sept. 16, America’s assisted living communities are participating in National Assisted Living Week<sup>®</sup> (NALW). The national observance – which begins each year on National Grandparents’ Day and is supported this year by official sponsor First Quality – honors the individuals who reside, work, and volunteer in assisted living and residential care communities with special activities and events.</p><p>Created by the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) in 1995, this year’s NALW theme, “Season of Reflection,” encourages participants to pause and reflect on the important things in life, including the special bonds created within assisted living communities. Additionally, this theme offers a chance to embrace and welcome the sense of renewal that comes with the changing season.</p><p>“Caregivers and residents in assisted living communities are family, and this is a great opportunity to celebrate that unique connection,” said NCAL Executive Director LaShuan Bethea. “We dedicate this National Assisted Living Week to honoring the hundreds of thousands of caregivers in assisted living who have committed to continuously improving the lives of their residents and providing the love and care that is so important to everyone.”</p><p>The annual observance encourages assisted living communities around the country to offer a variety of events and activities to bring together residents, staff, and volunteers. Members of the public are encouraged to visit or volunteer at an assisted living community to learn more about this distinct aspect of long term care. Participants are asked to share their celebrations throughout the week on social media with the hashtag, #NALW.</p><h3>Assisted Living Facts &amp; Figures</h3><ul><li>Approximately 818,800 individuals reside in 30,600 assisted living or residential care communities across the United States.</li><li>The average assisted living community has 39 beds.</li><li>Approximately 478,500 individuals work in assisted living.</li><li>Half of assisted living residents are 85 years old or older.</li><li>Typically, residents require assistance with only a few activities of daily living, including bathing (64 percent) and walking (50 percent).</li><li>Approximately 42 percent of residents are living with some form of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and 18 percent of assisted living communities offer memory care units or wings. Approximately 11 percent exclusively serve adults living with dementia.</li><li>Almost one in five (18 percent) assisted living residents relies on Medicaid for their daily care, and 61 percent of assisted living communities are Medicaid certified.</li></ul><p><em>Sources&#58; <a href="https&#58;//" data-feathr-click-track="true" data-feathr-link-aids="[&quot;60b7cbf17788425491b2d083&quot;]" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Services,</a> <a href="https&#58;//" data-feathr-click-track="true" data-feathr-link-aids="[&quot;60b7cbf17788425491b2d083&quot;]" target="_blank">National Center for Health Statistics</a>, and the <a href="https&#58;//" data-feathr-click-track="true" data-feathr-link-aids="[&quot;60b7cbf17788425491b2d083&quot;]" target="_blank">Bureau of Labor Statistics.</a></em><br>&#160;<br>Please visit <a href="http&#58;//" data-feathr-click-track="true" data-feathr-link-aids="[&quot;60b7cbf17788425491b2d083&quot;]" target="_blank"></a> for more information on National Assisted Living Week.​</p>2023-09-12T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/NALW23.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />CaregivingThis year’s NALW theme, “Season of Reflection,” encourages participants to pause and reflect on the important things in life, including the special bonds created within assisted living communities.
Elderly Enrichment: How to Engage Residents in Meaningful Activities<p><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/active_senior.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;200px;" />​As the aging population continues to expand, the need for high-quality senior care facilities becomes increasingly important. Beyond meeting the basic needs of older adults, it is crucial that these facilities make enriching and meaningful activities available to their residents to heighten their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.</p><p>As it stands, some senior care facilities have already resumed their operations in full in the wake of the pandemic. Some have reopened their doors for visitations and prioritized group activities, but some centers have been more hesitant. While this reluctance is understandable, it's important that seniors have access to social interactions that help to enhance their quality of life. This article addresses why engaging older residents in meaningful activities helps to create positive patient outcomes and helps seniors enjoy a vibrant and fulfilling life.</p><h3>Understanding the Importance of Meaningful Activities for Seniors </h3><p>As we age, the hobbies and activities we engage in can have a profound impact on our physical and mental well-being. Physical and social activities have a direct correlation with a senior's overall health. Engaging older adults in regular physical activities helps prevent and manage various age-related conditions. Promoting strength, balance, and flexibility helps reduce the risk of falls and other injuries that could have a dire impact on their care.&#160;</p><p>Similarly, cognitive and emotional stimulation is vital for maintaining cognitive function and preventing cognitive decline in aging individuals. By providing intellectually engaging activities such as puzzles, reading clubs, and creative workshops, senior care facilities can enhance seniors' cognitive abilities, promoting mental sharpness and a sense of accomplishment. These activities also address the social and emotional needs of seniors as well. Participating in social activities fosters a sense of belonging and combats feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are common among older adults. Group outings, game nights, and communal meals cultivate and support a vibrant community for their residents.</p><p>To incorporate enriching activities effectively, senior care facilities must adopt a person-centered approach. Each resident has unique preferences, interests, and capabilities, and tailoring activities to meet their individual needs is crucial. Facilities should conduct assessments and involve residents, their families, and care teams in the planning process so activities can be personalized, ensuring they are both meaningful and enjoyable for each individual.</p><p>Consider implementing technology into these activities for further enrichment. Digital tools allow for virtual engagement and expand the possibilities for activities, particularly in situations where in-person interactions may be limited. Virtual reality experiences, video chats with loved ones, online educational courses, and interactive games can provide mental stimulation, reduce feelings of loneliness, and maintain social connections.</p><h3>Promote Intergenerational Engagement Within Activities</h3><p>Promoting intergenerational engagement within senior care facilities is a powerful way to enrich the lives of both older adults while also simultaneously impacting younger generations. Creating opportunities for interaction and collaboration between these two age groups can foster a vibrant and mutually beneficial environment.</p><p>Intergenerational activities break down generational barriers and create a sense of shared experiences and understanding. Through these interactions, older adults gain a renewed sense of purpose as they have the chance to share their wisdom and life experiences with younger participants. Similarly, younger individuals benefit from the wisdom and guidance of older adults, gaining valuable insights that can shape their own lives.</p><p>These intergenerational engagements create a vibrant learning environment where both older adults and younger participants can exchange knowledge and skills. Seniors can pass on their expertise in various areas, such as arts and crafts, cooking, or storytelling, allowing younger generations to learn from their experiences. In return, younger participants can share their technological skills and knowledge, helping seniors navigate the digital world and stay connected with loved ones.</p><p>Senior care facilities can establish partnerships with local schools, universities, community organizations, and volunteer groups. Collaborative projects and programs, such as mentorship initiatives, art workshops, or intergenerational reading clubs, can be developed to encourage meaningful interactions between seniors and younger generations. These activities can take place on-site within the care facility or off-site, allowing for a diverse range of experiences and interactions.</p><h3>Overcoming Challenges and Ensuring Success</h3><p>Implementing enriching activities in senior care facilities comes with its own set of challenges. However, by addressing these obstacles and adopting strategies for success, senior care facilities can ensure the effective integration of meaningful activities into their residents' daily routines.</p><p>One significant challenge is providing proper training and development for staff members. Caregivers and staff should receive comprehensive education on the importance of meaningful activities and strategies for planning and facilitating engaging experiences. When staff are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills, they can confidently create and lead activities that cater to the diverse needs and interests of residents. Regular training sessions, workshops, and ongoing professional development opportunities should be implemented to keep staff up-to-date with the latest research and best practices in elderly enrichment.</p><p>Continuous assessment and improvement are vital to the success of meaningful activities in senior care facilities. Regular evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of activities allows facilities to gather feedback from residents, families, and staff. This feedback helps identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to ensure that activities remain meaningful, engaging, and aligned with the evolving needs and preferences of the senior population.&#160;</p><p><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/MelissaPowell.png" alt="Melissa Powell" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;5px;" />Additionally, senior care facilities must allocate dedicated spaces and resources for activities, ensuring that residents have easy access to the materials and equipment needed. They must also consider any mobility or cognitive limitations of residents when planning activities, ensuring that they are inclusive and accessible to all individuals. Creative scheduling and flexible programming can accommodate varying preferences and abilities, maximizing resident participation and enjoyment.</p><p>Incorporating enriching and meaningful activities into the daily routines of senior care facilities is not only a responsibility but also an opportunity to enhance the lives of older adults. As healthcare executives, let us embrace this responsibility, invest in the necessary resources, and work collaboratively to create a future where elderly enrichment becomes an integral part of senior care facilities.<br><br><em>Melissa Powell is the COO of Genesis Healthcare, a network of 250 facilities across 22 states.</em><br></p>2023-09-12T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Articles/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/active_senior.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />CaregivingMelissa PowellIt is crucial that facilities make enriching and meaningful activities available to their residents to heighten their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
New Models to Provide Dietary Support to Residents<p>​<img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/food2.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;200px;" />Registered dietitians (RDs) already play a crucial role in senior living communities. By bringing specialized knowledge in medical nutrition therapy to assess residents’ nutritional needs, they create individualized care plans and establish themselves at the core of person-centered care. They are often the first to identify subtle but debilitating conditions like malnutrition and collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to address common conditions among the senior population like heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, dementia, dehydration, and anemia.</p><p>RDs act not only as clinical consultants, but also educators by providing counseling to residents, their families, and staff members on healthy eating habits, rehabilitation, and disease management. Their role as the communications liaison among interdisciplinary team members helps communities deliver both well-being and hospitality seamlessly.</p><p>Practically speaking, dietitians wear many hats in most senior living communities. Monitoring weight, evaluating nutritional lab values, supporting nutrition-related diagnoses, planning menu extensions, managing foodservice operations, documenting cases to meet reporting requirements, and budgeting all fall within the RD’s scope of work.</p><p>A licensed practitioner is required to provide services in senior nursing facilities, but with staffing shortages at an all-time high, some communities find themselves at risk of penalties for not following federal and state laws. Without an RD on the payroll, communities may expect Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) deficiencies and civil financial penalties. </p><p>More concerning, though, is the risk of putting resident health and safety in jeopardy through&#58;<br></p><ul><li>Lack of individualized care, preventing proper nourishment for residents that need special diets.</li><li>Inadequate representation of documented resident nutritional needs.</li><li>Inadequate training of staff to assist residents who need support eating and drinking.</li><li>Inferior foodservice practices, leading to unappetizing or unhealthy foods.</li></ul><h3>The Value Is in Health Outcomes</h3><p>Skilled RDs apply evidence-based practices, making the most of scientific research to inform decisions regarding resident nutrition and its impact on health outcomes. Evidence-based nutrition in senior living communities is important to ensure recommendations are grounded in scientific validity, rather than personal beliefs or anecdotal evidence.</p><p>As individuals age, their nutritional needs change, and their bodies become more vulnerable to various health conditions. According to the National Council on Aging, 80 percent of adults over the age of 65 have at least one chronic condition.<sup>1</sup> By practicing evidence-based nutrition, RDs can help&#58;<br></p><ul><li>prevent and manage chronic conditions.</li><li>promote healthy aging.</li><li>enhance immune function. </li><li>support cognitive health. </li><li>heal wounds.</li><li>maintain optimal weight.</li><li>reduce the risk of falls.</li><li>prevent hospital readmissions.</li><li>and more.</li></ul><p>Proper diagnosis and documentation of certain nutrition issues can even result in increased Medicare reimbursements for skilled nursing facilities.2 In fact, with the roll out of PDPM, RDs can directly impact skilled nursing facility reimbursements through nutrition, nursing, speech therapy and non-therapy ancillaries (NTAs).</p><p>With all this to their credit, it’s easy to see the value of skilled nutrition professionals. An investment in dietitians with advanced knowledge, experience, and interprofessional leadership skills who practice at the top of their credentials is an investment in the quality of clinical care delivery for organizations. </p><h3>An Alternative Model for Future Support</h3><p>It’s not news that staffing shortages are rampant at all levels in senior care. Many registered dietitians working in senior living are spread thin, working at multiple facilities to provide even the minimal services required by law. This significant gap in the nutrition workforce is compelling communities to re-think their approach to dietary support for residents.</p><p>According to CMS, if a qualified nutrition professional (i.e., RD) isn’t employed full-time, the facility must designate a person to serve as the director of food and nutrition services. This role can be filled by nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered (NDTRs) or certified dietary managers (CDMs).</p><p>NDTR is a relatively recent credential from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. The number of technicians in the job market compared to RDs and CDMs is very low, but the opportunity for employment is high. NDTRs are trained in food and nutrition and are an integral part of health care and foodservice management teams. This role requires a minimum of a two-year associate degree with 450 hours of supervised practice experience. They can provide clinical support to a lesser degree than RDs (such as care conferences and weight monitoring), but don’t replace the need for at least a part-time RD on staff in skilled nursing facilities.</p><p>Although the CDM designation has officially been around since the mid-1980s, the role is emerging as a complementary profession to oversee operational tasks that some RDs previously undertook.</p><p>The path to obtaining a CDM credential is much less rigorous than that of an RD; no college is required, but passing a nationally recognized CDM Credentialing Exam is. Although not specialized or certified to practice medical nutrition therapy like a registered dietitian, adding CDMs to the dining staff is often easier for HR professionals, and they can support an evidence-based nutrition program in numerous ways. Led by the <a href="https&#58;//" data-feathr-click-track="true" data-feathr-link-aids="[&quot;60b7cbf17788425491b2d083&quot;]" target="_blank">Association of Nutrition &amp; Foodservice Professionals</a> (ANFP), this certification is a widely respected title and a symbol of competency in the industry.</p><p>Unlike RDs, CDMs don’t provide clinical counseling. Rather, they’re typically responsible for the day-to-day foodservice operations in senior living communities. For example, they manage menus, working closely with chefs to provide options that meet individual resident needs. CDMs also ensure compliance with state, county, and local health regulations; schedule and supervise kitchen staff; and maintain high standards of food safety and quality. They are also pivotal in business operations such as budgeting, maintenance, procurement, and inventory management.</p><p>Most importantly, both NDTRs and CDMs support person-centered care plans when RDs are otherwise engaged. By ensuring meals are nutritionally balanced, flavorful, and meet the specific needs of residents, their expertise helps provide the dietary support needed for residents’ well-being. And by backing the long-term development of these roles, employers will undoubtedly help ease the pain of the workforce gap.</p><h3>Reducing Turnover</h3><p>Let’s face it&#58; nutrition professionals are in high demand and with more stringent education requirements on the horizon, it’s not likely to get easier any time soon. RDs have their pick among jobs, and those certainly aren’t limited to senior living.</p><p>Below are some tips to help reduce turnover and recruit new talent.<br></p><ul><li>Cover the basics. Salary is important, but competitive benefits, flexibility, and work-life balance are becoming non-negotiable. </li><li>Go one step further with robust benefits. Employers who cover continuing education and specialty certification costs, allow time off for attending conferences, and pay for registration renewal are more likely to win the talent race.</li><li>Define and employ a career development ladder. One of the primary reasons RDs leave a job is for a “new opportunity.” Document meaningful steps for advancement and review progress on a regular basis.</li><li>Encourage networking. Involvement with trade associations such as the Academy of Nutrition &amp; Dietetics and ANFP promote innovation and professional support. </li><li>Give them a voice. As some of the most educated associates on the team, RDs often provide a fresh and intellectual perspective to strategic and clinical concerns.</li><li>Recognize exemplary work. A kind word is always welcome, and formal recognition in front of other staff or a board can boost morale during long stretches with understaffed teams.</li></ul><p><span class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><img src="/Articles/PublishingImages/2023/TracyBlazer.jpg" alt="Tracy Blazer" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;200px;height&#58;221px;" />References</span><br class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-1">1.&#160;&#160; &#160;<em>Aging,</em> <a href="https&#58;//" data-feathr-click-track="true" data-feathr-link-aids="[&quot;60b7cbf17788425491b2d083&quot;]" target="_blank">https&#58;//</a>. Accessed June 6, 2023.</span><br class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><span class="ms-rteFontSize-1">2.&#160;&#160; &#160;“Nutrition-Related Conditions&#58; Recommend Medicare Preventive Services.” Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services, <a href="https&#58;//" data-feathr-click-track="true" data-feathr-link-aids="[&quot;60b7cbf17788425491b2d083&quot;]" target="_blank">https&#58;//</a>. Accessed June 6, 2023.</span><br><br><em>Tracy Blazer is the regional vice president, West/Midwest region, at Sodexo Seniors. She is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in public health nutrition and has been a nutrition professional in the senior living segment for more than 20 years</em>. <br></p>2023-08-24T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Articles/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/food2.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />ManagementTracy BlazerRegistered dietitians act not only as clinical consultants, but also educators by providing counseling to residents, their families, and staff members on healthy eating habits, rehabilitation, and disease management.

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