How to Improve Outcomes in Skilled Nursing During COVID-19

Those working in long-term care aren’t strangers to pivoting in their day-to-day operations — they do it all the time. But now, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced skilled nursing facilities to face new challenges head-on. 

These days, you don’t just have to manage care at your facility, but you have to do so as you ensure everyone’s safety by following pandemic guidelines while you keep in mind social distancing, lack of PPE, and scarce access to testing. 

It’s overwhelming, and this overwhelm is felt by everyone across the healthcare system. 

Geriatric care specialist Dr. David Dosa has explained that “… nursing homes are not hospitals, yet they are asked to take care of some of our sickest patients.” That truth, coupled with the fact that “residents of long-term care facilities often have medical conditions associated with an increased risk of morbidity and mortality to COVID-19” has added an additional layer of worry and stress to the workload of those in the long-term care sector (Dosa).

If all this wasn’t enough, you can’t forget the fact that you’re still responsible for improving outcomes at your facility, and you need a plan in place to do that. Improving outcomes in skilled nursing in general isn’t easy — during a pandemic makes it even more challenging. With a few thoughtful moves, though, it’s a challenge you can overcome. 

Leading Your Long-term Care Facility to Success

You can’t keep your doors open if you’re struggling with high staff turnover, bad reviews, lost referrals, and expensive software. But with so much to think about, it can be hard to know where to start and what your team should focus on. So consider beginning with one of these… 

  1. Patient Care

Your organization is a business, and businesses that thrive long-term are ones who make their customers happy, and then keep them happy. For optimum success, you have to understand that your facility is no different, and at your core, you’re a business. You provide a service (care) and you should be intentional about providing the best service you possibly can. Your service should be so good, in fact, that your customers (residents, in this case, and their families) rave about it. Commit yourself to increasing the quality of care your residents receive. This may start with new rules, processes, and expectations, but the point is that it starts. You can’t prolong quality care because your reputation rests on it and, as a result, so does the success of your organization. When you take care of your patients in a genuine and real way, you can count on good reviews and regular referrals.

  1. Staff Care

No one wants to work in a place where they’re treated poorly and paid poorly. You wouldn’t want to, and your team doesn’t want to, either, especially if they’re good, qualified workers. Budget can affect how much you’re realistically able to pay your team, and they probably know that, but the way you treat your team? That doesn’t cost a thing. If you’re experiencing high staff turnover, then you need to take a good, hard look at the leadership of your organization. Good morale starts at the top of the chain, and if things don’t look good at the top, then you can expect things to look even worse at the bottom. Kindness, compassion, and empathy go a long way, as does a clean, comfortable work environment. As a leader, look for ways to inspire and motivate your team, and make your facility a good place to work so you can retain staff rather than lose them and struggle to run your facility as you deal with high turnover. 

  1. Forge Relationships

If you want more patients, then you need to forge solid relationships with the doctors and discharge planners in your community. Most of your patients will come from local hospitals, which means your relationships with those working in them really matter. Get to know the people who are taking care of your prospective residents. When they know you and your facility, they can feel good recommending their patients there, which is good for both of you. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship because you’ll get more referrals out of it, and they’ll be known for providing quality referrals. These things can only work well, however, if you address the above two aspects of your long-term care facility. 

At the end of the day, you have to think about how your facility is really performing. Would you refer your loved ones to your facility? If so, great! If not, then why would you think others would? 

The success of your healthcare organization depends on the time and effort you put into your patients, staff, and professional relationships. If you can get these three things at a good place, then you can begin to focus on other details that help your facility succeed, such as CMS ratings, readmission rates, and stay lengths. 

Find Out How EHR Software Can Help Improve Outcomes at Your Skilled Nursing Facility 

Technology is a powerful tool for healthcare organizations, as it can give you what you need to improve outcomes. If you’ve been having a hard time with high staff turnover, bad reviews, lost referrals, and expensive software — or worse, no software at all! — then it’s time to lean into EHR software so you can lead your skilled nursing facility to success. To get started with easy-to-learn, easy-to-use EHR software solutions, request a free demo today