Why CareWork Matters
Data: An Idea That’s Time Has Come
We all know the reality. The slice of the population that will need services in a skilled nursing facility or an assisted living facility is on the increase. Today, roughly 60.5 million people in the U.S. are 65 years of age and older. Just under 2%, 1.2 million residents, are in skilled nursing facilities. According to The Silver Book from the Alliance for Aging Research, in 2030, the 65+ population in the U.S. will be more than 71 million.
If that 2% number, referring to those in SNFs, holds, that is more than 1.42 million by 2030. More significantly, though, the number of individuals 85 and over, those more likely to need the services of an SNF or ALF, will increase more than 300%.
All this in an industry where, between 2015 and 2019, 550 nursing homes closed their doors, according to Nursing Home Closures and Trends, a report by LeadingAge.
This is Why SNFs and ALFs Need a Platform Like CareWork
The reality is that the senior care facilities that survive and flourish going forward will be those led by the smartest leadership teams, armed with the best data. But data in itself is not the only answer. The better answer is data presented in a way that makes sense and allows leadership to make the best decisions.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why a 360-degree view of your data is so important.
The Government is Not Going to Help
They should help. It will be in their best interests to make sure that the nation’s seniors get the best care available, but that is an uphill fight. Social Security, Medicare, and similar programs are the first ones mentioned when it comes time to discuss budget cuts.
“When the stimulus bill came out and passed with trillions of dollars, there was basically nothing for providers. When the first infrastructure bill was introduced, trillions of dollars nothing for providers. And so that’s when I went to our board and I said, ‘we’ve got to change our playbook,’” American Health Care Association (AHCA) President and CEO Mark Parkinson said, as reported by Skilled Nursing News.
The senior care facilities that will thrive in the future are those that steward their finances wisely.
The CMS Five-Star Rating System is Getting Tougher
As this blog reported several weeks ago, CMS announced that it would begin posting SNF staff turnover rates and weekend staffing levels on Medicare’s Care Compare site starting in January. Even as the hyper-contagious wave of the Covid-19 omicron variant was decimating the SNF labor pools across the country, CMS was putting increased emphasis on staffing levels, most of which have already been under immense pressure. Then CMS announced that the same information on staffing turnover and staffing levels will be reviewed as part of the CMS five-star ratings for SNFs starting in July.
CareWork helps SNFs by presenting data in a way that helps to proactively manage direct care staffing levels based on state-specific requirements and company targets without spending undue time or allocating additional resources. Managers can also control staffing levels as census changes, so you have the right number of people in the right shifts and are not paying unneeded overtime.
CareWork also helps manage the RN Staffing Rating. RN hours are tracked and applied correctly. This includes Director of Nursing RN hours, which can be applied to the RN Staffing Rating when the SNF has an average daily census of sixty or fewer residents.
Manage and Build Census with CareWork
The memory of Covid-19 will last a long time as families weigh their choices for loved ones who require care. According to an article in the N.Y. Times, more than 181,000 residents of SNFs, assisted living and other long-term care facilities died from Covid-19. Families fearing for their loved ones in these facilities sought other arrangements, most of the time moving them into a family member’s home.
CareWork allows you to monitor admissions and see where residents are coming from. It also allows you to easily go back a month, a year, or even a few years to see if there are sources that have dried up. You might have had a key relationship with a discharge officer or a social worker at the local acute-care facility that was producing admissions for you. If that person has retired or moved on, your census will reflect it.
Likewise, you might see an uptick in residents who need a short-term stay for post-acute care after leaving a hospital. They need extra recovery time after a knee or hip replacement or bariatric surgery. This is likely to be on the increase as Covid fades and hospitals lift their moratoriums on these elective procedures.
If you see these trends in your CareWork admissions report, you can use that information to get even more admissions.
CareWork Means All Your Information in One Place
This is especially important for SNFs when it comes time for a CMS inspection, especially a surprise one. Having all the information in one place means you can instantly produce error-free reports. Rather than having to consult several different systems and cobbling the information together, everything is immediately there. This also means you are less likely to make a misrepresentation if you have to piece together parts of two different reports.
Monitor Staffing Budgets More Efficiently
We all know there is immense downward pressure on the labor pool of front-line workers for senior care facilities, both SNFs and ALFs. One of the byproducts of this is increased overtime costs. Even though your facility might have staff scheduling tools in place, your scheduling people know there are certain employees always willing to take an extra shift. It’s the easy solution.
The result is payroll that’s over budget. Worse yet, leadership teams don’t know it’s happening until it’s too late. Add to this the unintended consequence of giving all these hours to one or two people. They get overworked. The resulting exhaustion leads to employee burnout, or even worse, increased chances of an accident or a serious error with a resident.
CareWork provides a better picture of your front-line staff and their hours with a centralized view. You can see who has a light schedule during that pay period and who might welcome the extra hours. There is also less risk of disgruntled employees because they think you are not sharing the overtime.
Better Data Means Fewer Readmissions and Better Outcomes
We reported on this several months ago. A nursing director at a senior care facility was troubled by the number of urinary tract infections (UTIs) among residents. If a UTI gets out of hand, it means a trip to the hospital for that resident, staff pulled away to take care of the transport, and the problems accompanied by a readmission (which is even more of a problem considering that SNFs are penalized by CMS for readmissions. It can even affect your five-star rating).
The nursing director did a deep dive into the data and discovered that the residents not having a problem with UTIs all had the same healthcare program through Medicare. That carrier sent out a visiting nurse weekly who was skilled at recognizing UTIs and treating them before they got out of hand. The nursing director encouraged the loved ones of patients plagued by UTIs to consider switching to the carrier with the visiting nurse. Enough families made the transition that the net result was a steep decline in the number of UTIs.
CareWork will also allow you to look at readmissions and see if they are related to staff on duty at the time they occur. Sometimes preventing a readmission is an issue of better staff training or increased staff awareness. If a patient is prone to UTIs, they need extra water intake. Staff needs to be aware of that.
Fewer readmissions mean better outcomes and happier residents and families.
CareWork is the Future
The trends are positive. There will be an increasing need for SNFs and ALF in the coming years, but this will only be true for the organizations run by smart leadership who recognize the value of data, and the value of being able to see this data all at once and how it impacts other areas and departments. But only smart leaders backed with good data will truly prosper.
CareWork can help. CareWork gives teams automated tools to increase quality, control costs, track compliance, manage labor, reduce waste, and get jobs done faster. The best part is we integrate with the systems you already use and give providers a straightforward way to manage operations in one place strategically. We make care work easier.