Assisted living facilities (ALFs) are just one of many long-term care options for America’s seniors. These facilities have a duty to provide competent care and safe accommodations. In general, ALFs do a very good job at delivering these features to their residents. Still, safety is a very real consideration in long-term care; nursing home insurance is only one aspect of a broader risk management strategy. Technology represents another piece of the risk management puzzle, offering improved safety through automating certain processes. Automation has the potential to make ALFs safer for both residents and staff.
Automation in Long-Term Care
What does automation look like in the modern assisted living facility or nursing home? The term “automation” can mean any number of systems, each designed to reduce human input and to improve efficiency and safety. Automated systems may be used for administrative purposes, such as systems designed for staff use in managing workflows and communication. These automated systems may also be employed as a means of providing facility safety and security. Automation in ALFs may include:
- Automatic door locks
- Video security systems
- Employee HR management programs
- Staff training programs
- Medication management systems
- Self-service resident equipment
Just as nursing home insurance protects facility assets from losses, automation can improve operational safety as part of a broad risk management strategy.
Safety and Security Against Elopement Risks
Elopement, or unsupervised wandering of ALF residents, is a significant risk exposure for long-term care facilities, particularly those who have memory care centers or residents with cognitive declines. If a resident were to wander or to leave the facility without staff knowledge, the consequences can be dire. Eloped residents may be at risk of severe injury or death. In today’s long-term care facilities, understaffing and inadequate supervision can result in elopement risks. Automation can supplement human supervision by providing systems to prevent residents from wandering off premises. Automated door locks and alarms are some of the security and safety measures ALFs can put into place. Video monitoring systems in hallways and near entrances/exits are another.
Reducing Medication Errors
Medication errors are a risk that has plagued the healthcare industry for decades. A medication error can come from simple mistakes to negligence or the prescription/dosing of inappropriate medications. Several studies have pointed to the pervasive risk of medication errors, with as many as 75% of all long-term care residents receiving at least one inappropriate medication during their residence.
Just as with elopement risks, understaffing and inadequate staff cross-checking can result in medication errors. To combat this problem, ALFs have adopted automated medication management systems that provide accurate dosing and delivery for residents. These systems serve to protect both staff and residents from the risks associated with medication errors, which can result in injury, illness, or death.
Staff Automation Systems
Staff members in ALFs are expected to do more with less. Many facilities are understaffed, and just as many experience ever-increasing workloads involving patient care. As a result, certain staffing tasks fall by the wayside. Automation can help reverse these declines by providing staff members with portals to manage aspects such as:
- Time and attendance
- Work reporting
- Incident reporting
- Leave/vacation scheduling
These systems offer a streamlined, efficient approach to staff management. Software programs can personalize staff schedules, create staggered shifts, handle break times and leave, and provide access to staff statistics. Automated HR systems ultimately save time and money while boosting staff productivity.
As a means of controlling unexpected expenses, automation supplements the protections of nursing home insurance. They also enhance the security and safety of residents. Protecting residents and staff with nursing home insurance is only one part of a larger risk management puzzle. Automation represents a viable addition to facility operations. Not every facility needs automated systems, but those that have implemented them report greater job satisfaction by staff, improved perceptions of care quality by residents, and superior facility safety.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.