It was Edna’s 100th birthday at Greenfield Manor and everyone was in the mood for celebrating! The staff made her a cake, while the residents and family gathered to sing a spirited Happy Birthday! Edna was well liked among fellow residents and staff members. Thinking to preserve memories of the occasion, a caregiving aide from Greenfield took out her smartphone and recorded the celebration.

She then shared the cute video on her Facebook profile with the caption “Edna rings in 100. I love my job”. It had seemed innocent enough. Many of her friends commented on how cute it was and extended birthday wishes. She most likely never thought this very action would result in her losing the job she loved.

Unfortunately, the use of personal smartphones and devices is on the rise by professional caregivers in long-term care. And not just for social media. They’re also being used by caregivers who wish to relay patient information and activity to other caregiving staff in a faster and more efficient fashion. They are trying to provide better care. Instead, they are putting their communities, patient privacy and their jobs at risk.

Greenfield Manor believes very strongly in maintaining high end security, patient integrity and privacy. They immediately recognized this act for what it was: a HIPAA violation. They followed their HIPAA privacy protocol, relieved the aide of her position and contacted the family about the privacy breach.

Although Edna’s family was upset about the violation of Edna’s privacy, they were satisfied with the actions the facility took, and the aide didn’t face legal action. It definitely could have been worse.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that enforces HIPAA, has come down hard on communities and their staff members that utilize personal smart devices in a professional care setting.

A recent CMS memorandum to state officials stated that organizations must have policies that prohibit employees from taking pictures or video of residents and posting them on social media, no matter what. In addition to privacy breaches, CMS is concerned with protecting residents from feeling demeaned or embarrassed.

CMS has gone so far to require that any employees in violation of these strict policies must be reported to local law enforcement, for possible resident mental abuse. This is true even if the resident gave consent.

Q: What should senior housing communities do?

A: Remove any and all usage of personal smart devices by your staff and instead get HIPAA compliant, secure RCare Mobile phones.

RCare Mobile utilizes a locked down smartphone which allows caregivers to receive customized patient alerts as well as detailed resident information and location. RCare Mobile allows voice and text communications with other staff including the I Got It button, letting other staff know who is responding to the call.

Here’s the best part. Even though RCare Mobile looks and acts just like a smartphone, it’s a smartphone that is completely dedicated to being a high-function, secure, HIPAA-compliant nurse call system phone. It doesn’t allow additional apps to be installed. It doesn’t allow taking photos or videos. And it doesn’t allow social media of any kind.

RCare Mobile. the world’s most advanced nurse call system is calling you. It’s time to respond.