How We Brought Transparency and Clarity to Our Clinical Process—Improving Communication and Care
Brené Brown famously says, “Clear is kind.” And although I believe Ms. Brown was referencing uncomfortable conversations, her saying is also correct with setting expectations. If we’re not clear with what we expect from our teams and associates, how can we hold them accountable? Additionally, when providing care and service to our nation’s seniors, if we aren’t transparent with what our resident’s need, we can't expect our teams to deliver on our promise to, “take care of moms and dads as if they were our own.”
At Validus Senior Living, we've discovered a way to provide caregivers a clear roadmap for what everyone needs—removing barriers, increasing revenue, and making data more transparent in the process.
Taking the leap from the hospital setting, where I spent the entirety of my career before Validus, was scary. Senior living was an industry that felt foreign to me. However, the authentic spirit and company culture sold me on making a change; it helped that there were many leaders who were as eager to teach as I was to learn.
Validus Senior Living operates independent, assisted, and memory care communities in the southeast. Our moral compass is to care, think, understand, and act quickly, to commit to getting 1% better every day, and to be generous in spirit. Those principles, plus an ideology that values free thought and encourages ideas from every level, attracted me to Validus. To have the ability to come in and ask all the questions, to challenge the status quo, was not only accepted, it was encouraged. However, the transition from acute care to senior living was not without its challenges, especially when it came to technology.
The First Attempt to Overhaul Our System
After joining the company, one of my first memories was observing a staff member in one of our communities communicating with a provider via fax. It was mind-blowing. Everything revolved around paper-based processes, and there were a lot of easily misplaced physical binders.
In addition to these paper-based processes, there was a lack of data transparency. Each community operated independently, developing their own way of collecting forms and storing data. There was also very little standardization among these communities. Inspired Living Tampa might have a slightly different culture than Inspired Living Lewisville, but the care practices and documentation standards should be the same. There were a lot of inconsistencies, and we didn't have the data to fix them. If we wanted to see a particular chart, someone would need to fax it to us, or we would have to drive to the physical location. This wasn’t efficient, we needed the information at our fingertips.
About six months after I joined the Validus team, our lead clinician at the time led the charge to adopt electronic health records (EHR) software. We rolled it out to 12 communities over eight weeks—a pace that proved to be too fast, leading to a disjointed implementation. We didn't get a lot of partnered support, and our care teams didn't adopt the new software widely. We still had many of the same challenges, just in a different system.
Greater Planning Leads to Greater Success
It was clear something needed to change. The inconsistencies of the paper-based days were still alive and well with our partial electronic health system we were trying to make fit. Although the last thing we wanted to do was start the process over, it became clear we needed to at least talk to others and look at other options. Steve Benjamin, our CEO, had a connection at PointClickCare, so he brought them in to present.
We realized that PointClickCare was much more advanced than what we had in place. In addition, the technology was more fluid and centralized: we wouldn't have to close one platform to look for information elsewhere. Still, we were hesitant. We had just undergone a difficult rollout a year prior, and change can be hard on our community teams, especially while delivering care to our residents.
PointClickCare heard us when we said we had moved too quickly before. They assured us we could plan a methodical rollout, taking as long as we needed to feel comfortable. They assigned us trainers and specialists who we engaged in weekly meetings. As we gained confidence, we thought about moving more quickly through the roll out, but they reminded us of our prior concerns and helped us stick to our initial plan.
Working with PointClickCare was a true partnership. We didn't feel like our businesses were two separate entities. Instead, we felt like our teams were entwined on this project, working toward the same goals, and invested in the same success.
Moving Ahead Despite the Pandemic
We started the rollout in May 2020, and there were times we asked ourselves whether we were crazy to move forward with this change when we did. We had to deal with COVID-19 ever-changing safety protocols on top of our daily care routines, and it was an uncertain time. But in the day-to-day operations of healthcare, there's always going to be a reason to hit the pause button. There's always some background noise to stop you from making a big change.
For us, the pandemic only heightened our need for new software. Since our corporate team—which we call the community support center—temporarily couldn't be on the ground in our communities, we needed a centralized system to see what was happening, now more than ever.
PointClickCare offered virtual training to our teams to stay on track. It was a lot for us to juggle, but we also knew that adopting PointClickCare and increasing visibility and access to data would help us manage ever-changing situations throughout the pandemic.
Increased Efficiencies Across the Board
Today, we use PointClickCare's Senior Living Core Platform and risk management platform in each of our communities. We are also preparing to roll out their billing platform in 2022, having already used it in our independent living community. Everything from general admission paperwork to day-to-day charting to assessments and task management is now in PointClickCare. As a result, four of our communities have gone entirely paperless. PointClickCare has a robust feature set, and we're constantly learning, evaluating, and implementing these features.
PointClickCare enables our care teams to capture changing acuity and care activities more effectively. Centralized Dashboards provide more visibility regardless of the community location. We can have data-driven conversations with families about their parent's care needs, and when they share tips, that goes right into the care plan, so the caregiver has that information at their fingertips.
Standardized documentation prompts caregivers/nurses with the exact information we need as well as what we should be doing and looking for to provide excellent care. These more accurate assessments have led to a 200–300% increase in care revenue. Company-wide, we're at 92% task completion. I'm thrilled at how much more effective we've become.
Data transparency and efficiency gives caregivers back that time. Ultimately, it puts our care teams and community teams exactly where they belong . . . alongside our residents providing meaningful days and inspiring care.
Our caregivers are the real heroes of senior living
Our caregivers are the ones providing love and support to the residents entrusted in our care. They know it's significant that Ms. Smith ate one egg for breakfast, instead of her usual two. They notice that Mr. Taylor, usually tidy, has stopped cleaning up after himself. They recognize when a resident suddenly needs to be reminded to come to breakfast. They notice changes in our residents first, and this technology allows them to communicate those changes and allows us to be proactive instead of reactive.
PointClickCare's dashboard allows our regional and community support center teams to support our communities and caregivers, but it also enables caregivers to flag changes and contribute to the conversation around resident care.
Having this information in real time allows us to be proactive. Anyone can be an awesome Monday-morning quarterback, but to fix an issue, we need to address it in the moment.
A Platform That Helps Elevate Our Standards
As we all know, the labor market is challenging right now, so we want to attract and retain the right people from the start. PointClickCare has been helpful during onboarding new associates. It's easy to refer to PointClickCare on their devices as they're learning resident needs. Younger, tech-savvy associates and caregivers don't want to look up this information in a binder. They are thriving with this technology, and it positions us as a modern, forward-thinking company.
We have expanded our onboarding process to include PointClickCare training using their interactive SmartZone e-Learning platform. And the training doesn't stop there—we can see trends as they emerge and tailor training sessions to reflect those trends. If we see we've had an uptick in falls, for example, we know there's a need to schedule fall-prevention training.
PointClickCare has transformed Validus Senior Living at all levels. It has opened communication, allowing us to share data and resources seamlessly. I love working for a company that enables ideas to flow freely, including from people who live senior care every day. Now, we have a platform to continue elevating the care we provide. Our partnership with PointClickCare enables the care team to deliver the right care to the right person and the right time. And that, after all, is the goal… serving and paying it back to the generations who have come before us to pave the way.