Senior living staff use social media both at home and work – whether it’s to blog, connect with individuals via Facebook, share photos on Instagram or Snapchat, make job connections on LinkedIn, or upload videos on YouTube. As we mentioned in our previous article, there are many benefits in communication and sharing healthcare information through social media and other web-based tools. But there is a downside, too, with potential liability exposures for senior living, assisted living and nursing home facilities. In our previous article, we took a look at creating a social media policy at a facility; here we look at training employees on the policy.
Senior living facilities should train both new employees during orientation as well as retrain existing employees periodically on social media and HIPAA (Health Insurance and Portability Accountability Act) policies. Training should clearly state the facility’s process for monitoring and taking corrective action against individuals using social media inappropriately. Additionally, facilities should ask for an attestation form to be signed with employees agreeing to comply with the employers’ social media policies. Prominently post the policy for residents, families and staff.
Include the following when conducting social media training to ensure HIPAA compliance and resident privacy:
- Personal social media accounts should be kept separate from the facility’s accounts.
- Avoid “friending” residents or families.
- Recognize that deleted posts, text messages or pictures can still exist in cyberspace.
- Understand that posts on a private page can be accessed by users other than friends or followers.
- Be aware that HIPAA personal identifiers – such as photos, neighborhood locations, and birthdates – must remain private.
- Even if a resident posts information, staff should not share in any form this information on their personal pages.
- Do not comment on a resident’s social media page – it can go to other friends and individuals.
- Avoid any unauthorized photos of a resident (written authorization is required).
- Avoid transmitting any electronic media image or recording of a resident.
- Any privacy or confidentiality breach must be immediately reported to the facility’s management.
- During parties or events, make sure that all resident files or confidential items are put a way before a group photo is taken. Cover up white boards and obtain the appropriate consent from the resident and/or family to post the photo.
- If a resident, family member or staff member has any questions about social media, he or she should speak with the facility’s management staff.
The Centers for (CMS) also posted a memo last August on federal requirements for nursing homes regarding resident rights and staff treatment of residents, training of staff on abuse prevention, and reporting procedures. The CMS also included guidance for surveyors on investigating complaints of photo or video-related abuse of residents (which are posted on social media sites) and reporting any offending staff members to state licensing authorities. The memo was written on the heels of media reports and remarks from lawmakers criticizing the increasing number of incidents involving nursing home workers posting photos and videos of residents to social media applications.
Caitlin Morgan specializes in providing insurance solutions to the senior living industry, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, addressing liability, property, cyber and privacy, workers comp and other many other exposures. To find out more about our programs, give us a call at 877.226.1027.