It takes a certain caliber of leadership to prevent a crisis from turning into a stack of dominoes. While you focus on containing the spread of COVID-19 in your communities, consider how to mitigate the downstream effects of patients being forced into social isolation.
Skilled nursing and long-term acute care facilities are now following the CDC’s COVID-19 preparedness recommendations, cancelling communal dining and all group activities, as well as requiring the practice of social distancing whenever patients leave their rooms.
In severely affected areas, patients are basically in isolation all day, with therapists predominantly treating patients within their rooms. Without access to stairs, parallel bars and exercise equipment, it can be much more challenging to engage patients in motor, balance and strengthening activities. A lack of space also prevents patients from practicing long-distance walking.
It’s appearing more and more likely that this pandemic could turn into a long and drawn-out struggle in the months to come. This ongoing social isolation could pose a serious health risk for older adults, according to a recent McKnight’s article by Danielle Myers. Furthermore, the clinical evidence strongly correlates a reduction of physical activity with functional decline and falls.
At first glance, it may seem like SNF leaders face a terrible tradeoff between preventing the spread of COVID-19 and driving optimal patient outcomes. Is this something we just need to accept?
Roger Martin, author of “The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking,” offers some insights into this question. Martin argues that a refusal to accept trade-offs is the mark of great leadership.
He says: “The conventional thinker prefers to accept the world as it is. The integrative thinker welcomes the challenge of shaping the world for the better.”
What makes great leaders so successful is their capacity for integrative thinking, which is “the ability to constructively face the tension of opposing ideas,” Martin notes. Without compromising, great leaders are able to creatively generate a new idea “that contains elements of the opposing ideas, but is superior to each.”
The question that all leaders in rehabilitation and senior care should now be asking is, how can we maintain top-rate infection control practices without compromising on patient outcomes?
A number of clients have reached out to us to see what we can do to help. With all of their equipment stationed in the therapy gym, including the Jintronix virtual rehab system, they needed creative solutions to keep patients physically active in their rooms.
So we asked the question, if patients can’t go to the therapy gym, can we bring the therapy gym to them?
This is the challenge I put to our design and engineering team to support our SNF partners through COVID-19. Our starting point was patient engagement. We follow the scientific evidence that when patients are deeply engaged in their therapeutic exercise, they participate longer, are willing to take on bigger challenges and achieve better outcomes.
Bringing the interactive Jintronix experience from the therapy gym into the patient’s room in a cost-effective way led us to an innovative solution: Jinseeo, a new interactive therapy exercise software that can run on a standard laptop, using a web camera.
Jinseeo will give therapists a much-needed tool for engaging patients in effective in-room therapy through the COVID-19 crisis.
During normal times, innovation is important. During times of crisis, it’s critical. Healthcare and technology providers should be leaving no stone unturned as they determine what’s best for patients and for the community.
A resilient organization is one that has the tools, knowledge and readiness to adapt to any situation. Leaders that create resilient organizations tend to be integrative thinkers, ready to take on the current crisis without ever taking their eyes off their fundamental purpose: quality patient care and strong rehabilitation outcomes.
Mark Evin is the CEO of Jintronix.