The gentleman in one room needs to be repositioned, lest he be plagued by bedsores. The woman in another room needs her medication. And yet another woman in yet another room needs to be ferried to treatment.
There are meals to deliver. There are catheters to clean. There are beds to change. And there never seem to be enough hours in a day.
So it goes for the increasingly overworked nurses in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).
SNFs are increasingly short-staffed — one report noted that 95 percent of the nation’s 14,000 facilities lack adequate manpower — and given the United States’ aging population, the situation does not figure to improve.
As of 2016, there were 46 million Americans 65 and older, but that number is expected to more than double, to over 98 million, by 2060. Put another way, the percentage of the population in that age bracket will rise from 15 to 24.
That means the number of SNF residents, currently at 1.4 million, will assuredly rise — and that it will be that much more difficult for staffers to meet residents’ needs.
One study indicated that nearly half of all hospitalizations could be avoided by improved SNF care, and that seven in ten patients would not have needed to be hospitalized at all, if only the SNF staff had been able to administer IV therapy.
Another report noted that staffing shortages lead to instances not only of neglect, but of abuse. It also led, in at least one instance, to a lawsuit. The former residents of 12 Arkansas facilities were the ones who sued, citing a dearth of staffers between 2006 and 2009. The suit was settled for $72 million in 2017.
What to do? The Allure Group is using technology in an attempt to bridge the gap. We were the first and only Brooklyn-based SNF to make use of EarlySense, a remote patient-monitoring system that allows nurses to track residents’ vital signs and movements courtesy of sensors placed under pillows or cushions. That also enables staffers to maximize their time — to keep an eye on one patient while tending to the needs of another.
We have also implemented robotics to aid those patients recovering from injury, surgery or such debilitating diseases as heart attack or stroke. And staffers have seen their paperwork reduced through the use of Constant Care, an e-vitals platform that transmits patient vitals directly into their electronic medical records, thus eliminating the need for manual charting.
All of it in the interests of bridging the gap between an increasingly overburdened staff and a pool of residents that only figures to increase in size. All of it in the interests of making our facilities more efficient, and our residents healthier.