In the evolving, complicated era of COVID-19, long-term healthcare facilities must adjust to ever-changing needs to reduce risks and improve compliance for both residents and employees. While the pandemic forced some to adapt to virtual working environments, many in healthcare simply have not had that option. But there are ways facilities can continue operating while providing safe, efficient and practical solutions to training, scheduling, and maintaining compliance.
By fine-tuning best practices, long-term care facilities can meet ever-evolving regulations while reducing both administrative and safety risks. To do so, facilities need to ensure their most basic administrative processes are as efficient and streamlined as possible. This includes critical areas such as employee training, scheduling, safety and communication to ultimately ensure the highest level of compliance during the pandemic — and beyond. To achieve this, facilities must:
- Take a coordinated and virtual approach to prioritize training and safety, when able
- Virtually empower staff while optimizing operations and meeting staffing needs
- Open communication channels and utilize touchless technologies
Here are four ways automated workforce solutions can ensure compliance at long-term care facilities.
- To ensure efficient and timely instruction, healthcare management companies should focus on customizable learning management software for training and services, guaranteeing continuity of education requirements. Mobile apps can also help employees access company-wide resources, managing tasks such as training, leave, time, attendance, and report work progress. Companies can also onboard and train new hires virtually by allowing them to use a computer or smartphone. These are key ways to continue meeting education and training requirements for healthcare professionals.
- To ensure business operations run smoothly and safely, long-term healthcare facilities should prioritize touchless technologies, such as video conferencing and thermal temperature readings. Encouraging employees to adhere to distancing and occupancy regulations will help minimize physical contact and prevent compromised business operations. Employees should also be encouraged to use self-service options to report safety risks and access smartphone resources for training tasks. These efforts underscore that you’re mindful of COVID-19 safety for facility management, staff, patients, and families.
- To give employees more control over their schedules, use technology to help maintain appropriate and qualified staffing levels and availability. Maintaining schedule flexibility is key to employee success during this pandemic. Software that organizes and personalizes schedules with staggering shifts, break times and extended work hours will help limit overtime costs and gaps due to illness or unplanned absence. In turn, this will improve costs, minimize turnover and boost productivity and morale. Distribution and access to statistics and data reported to the Payroll-Based Journal (PBJ) system can also help e facilities with staffing needs. Additionally, using PBJ data, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services can approximate facility needs and help support local, state and federal agencies’ response to preventing and controlling the transmission of COVID-19.
- To better communicate with employees, keep them updated on any changes and provide a channel to executive leadership. Utilizing communication tools like instant messaging and group chats will help employees feel aligned with leadership on what changes and updates are going on. Keeping employees well-informed and integrating channels for employee feedback will also provide a sense of commitment and support during an uncertain time.
Practical and flexible approaches to company-wide precautions and policies will help employees embrace changes and ensure business operations continue running efficiently, even with staff and availability challenges. Traditional methods and practices may no longer be an option for long-term care facilities. There must be a focus on innovative virtual strategies and techniques to ensure compliance with new and changing regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Joe Palladino is a senior solutions consultant at Ascentis. He has spent more than 20 years helping organizations meet their business needs by applying services and technology best practices.