Heat Waves and Senior Housing

When the outside temperature rises, it’s not only an inconvenient situation. Heat waves can be deadly to older and more vulnerable residents.

This lesson was driven home starkly in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Florida, where nine residents died after losing power in their nursing community.

It doesn’t take a catastrophic hurricane to make heat a deadly problem for seniors. Nearly 400 Americans die from heat waves each year. “Most of them are elderly people who often don’t realize when they are overheating and in danger.” (agingcare.com)

This is an awesome responsibility that falls on senior communities, to prevent and respond to a potential temperature increase, even if the resident doesn’t realize the danger or severity of the situation.

RCare Temperature Sensors (TS9 and TS9E) to mitigate the danger of heat waves to seniors

RCare’s temperature sensors

Nurse Call Systems have come a long way in the past few decades. Caregiving staff are expected to do far more than simply respond to button and pull cord alerts. They need to be aware if a resident is in a dangerous environment, without the resident having to do anything. The technology needs to enable better, faster, and more predictive care.

That’s why RCare’s nurse call systems have gone above and beyond, to integrate passive environmental sensors, such as temperature and flood detecting sensors. RCare’s temperature devices will detect when temperatures are rising and start sending out alerts to designated caregiving team members. RCare allows for a quick intervention, before the situation becomes a crisis.

Passive sensors are an important part of a complete nurse call system. RCare is the provider of advanced wireless nurse call systems for senior communities across the senior care continuum. With the integration of temperature sensors, water sensors, and other environmental sensors, RCare provides care staff with the extra tools they need to keep seniors safe, even if the resident never pressed a button.

Need wander management?  

We got wander management!  RCare is pleased to announce an integration with Accutech Security’s LS2400 wander management system.

wander managementAccutech’s solution is a low-cost wander system that provides resident ID, loiter and door-ajar monitoring, low tag battery as well as several other alerts without the need for a computer. It can provide resident ID and reporting capabilities at the door or nurses station with the optional touch-screen LCD display.  And now with the introduction of RCare integration, it is possible for communities to experience these capabilities directly from a browser or on their RCare Mobile nurse call handsets.

Long term care facilities can have multiple technology needs, but nobody wants to adopt three or four different solutions to address them all.  Technologies that work together, work the best.  Now your wander management can talk to your RCare nurse call system.

We think that’s the way it should be.

Smartphone and HIPAA Violations

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.

CMS Star Ratings

Last updated September 1, 2020

What is the 5-Star Quality Rating System?

Each community is unique, with distinct resident needs, caregiving processes, and more. RCare takes the time to build customized, lasting solutions to meet the diverse needs of the communities they serve.

In 2008, the CMS star ratings system was created for the Skilled Nursing Industry by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The system rates communities on a scale of one (lowest) to five (highest) stars in three areas, as well as assigning an overall star rating. The three areas of evaluation are: Health Inspections, Quality Measures, and Staffing.

The results are made available to consumers and families, on an easy-to-use website called Nursing Home Compare, to help them evaluate and compare skilled nursing communities. They can also be used by state agencies and regulators, payors, and business investors or lenders, to evaluate facilities.

Since its inception, the system has been changed and improved numerous times, most recently in March of 2019. These changes are planned and well communicated. But did you know that in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to rock the senior living industry and the country as a whole, it also led to rapid, temporary changes to the 5-Star Quality Rating System, changes that affect all three of the star ratings.

Changes to the 5-Star Quality Rating System Since COVID-19

Temporary Changes to the 5-Star Quality Rating System due to COVID-19, issued in July, 2020:

Staffing Rating

Because of the pandemic, and its dramatic impact on congregate living communities, CMS waived the requirement to submit data for the Staffing rating through the Payroll-Based Journal system. As a result, many facilities didn’t submit Q1 staffing data by the May, 2020 deadline. Therefore, instead of updating Staffing star ratings in July as scheduled, CMS kept existing ratings in place, those based on data from the last quarter in 2019.

An exception was made for facilities that had missed a previous deadline for Staffing data submission. Those communities had been downgraded one star as a late penalty. Rather than letting that lower rating persist, CMS opted to completely suppress the Staffing star rating for those communities, and instead is displaying “Rating Not Available” through September, 2020.

Quality Rating

CMS waived the requirement to complete and submit timely resident assessment information, given the concern that the assessment results could be impacted by the residents’ reaction to changes imposed by the public health emergency. As a result, CMS continued to update Quality star ratings based on data through December 31, 2019, but then paused. It is not updating Quality star ratings for data collected after January 1, 2020.

More specifically, according to the Five-Star Quality Rating System Technical Users’ Guide, issued by CMS in July, 2020: “The MDS-based QMs will continue to cover 2019Q1 – 2019Q4. Four of the claims-based measures (long-stay and short-stay hospitalizations and ED visits) will be updated and will cover the time period January 1 – December 31, 2019. The short-stay QM, rate of successful return to home and community, will continue to cover October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2018.”

Health Inspection Rating

The Health Inspection star rating is based on inspections conducted up to and including March 3, 2020, but will not be updated to include data collected after that. Results of health inspections conducted on or after March 4, 2020, will be posted publicly through a link on the front page of the Nursing Home Compare website, but will not be used to calculate a nursing home’s Health Inspection star rating.  CMS will communicate changes prior to when  normal updates of Health Inspection ratings resume.

In March, 2020 CMS announced a new targeted inspection plan related to keeping patients safe from COVID-19, to commence on March 4. These targeted inspections focused on threats to patient safety and infection control, an attempt to identify situations of “immediate jeopardy.” This resulted in an increase in the number of facilities inspected, and the nature of the inspections, but it also led to a disruption in normal health inspection schedules. As a result, CMS paused updates to the Health Inspection star rating during the pandemic.

About RCare

RCare is a global provider of nurse call systems for the entire spectrum of eldercare and senior living. Our mission is to improve the lives of elders and those who care for them. Our innovations are designed with the resident at the center, while providing helpful and user-friendly technologies that make the environment more comfortable and pleasant–and that ultimately lead to better outcomes.

With RCare’s reporting tools, you can measure important information about calls, such as call volume, frequent callers, and response times, to help you improve the experience of elders and their families, and staff work loads. For communities with multiple facilities, Enterprise RMetrix provides a dashboard that makes it easy to compare facilities on key metrics, by day, month or quarter. RCare gives administrators the kind of reporting that turns data into insight, and insight into action.

Every community is different, and RCare takes the time to understand the unique resident needs, caregiving process, and other issues, to build customized solutions that last.