bed and chair alarms

In news that is shaking up senior living communities, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has put serious restrictions on the use of bed and chair alarms-but only those that sound alarms near the resident. This will cause many senior housing communities to reevaluate their nurse call and advanced monitoring technologies to ensure they will comply with the new regulations, effective at the end of November, 2017.

CMS issued new bed and chair alarm restricctionsAccording to CMS, a revision to the State Operations Manual will now classify bed and chair alarms, or any position change alarms which make an audible noise near the resident as a restraint. Restraints can only be used when deemed medically necessary and even then, must be continuously reevaluated for use. In other words, if a resident can hear the alarm that the sensor makes, it would be not authorized for general use.

There are many good reasons for this regulation. CMS explains the rationale to ban these devices as potentially harmful emotionally and physically to the resident:

  • Loss of dignity
  • Decreased mobility
  • Bowel and bladder incontinence
  • Sleep disturbances due to the sound of the alarm or because the resident is afraid to move in bed thereby setting off the alarm
  • Confusion, fear, agitation, anxiety, or irritation in response to the sound of the alarm as residents may mistake the alarm as a warning or as something they need to get away from.

According to the newly implemented CMS revisions: “While position change alarms may be implemented to monitor a resident’s movements, for some residents, the use of position change alarms that are audible to the resident(s) may have the unintended consequence of inhibiting freedom of movement. For example, a resident may be afraid to move to avoid setting off the alarm and creating noise that is a nuisance to the resident(s) and staff, or is embarrassing to the resident. For this resident, a position change alarm may have the potential effect of a physical restraint.”

Communities must adapt and quickly to this change. But, fortunately communities have a better choice, not only for complying with the new requirements, but for making the quality of life better within the community. RCare’s bed and chair sensors are seamlessly integrated into all of the RCare nurse call systems and discreetly alert staff, without embarrassing or disrupting the resident. This is why RCare continues to integrate a wide variety of environmental and activity monitoring sensors into its wireless nurse call solutions.

RCare bed and chair alarmsCommunities have good reasons for using position change sensors. It’s important to know if a resident may need help. It’s important to know if someone is having a restless night, or if they haven’t moved from the couch or gotten out of bed. And it’s important to know if they’ve gotten out of the wheelchair.

With RCare, alerts go directly to the nurse station and can message or call the wireless RPhones carried by staff. The event is automatically logged. The “I got it” feature enables caregivers to claim the call, so there’s no duplication of response effort, and no alert goes unanswered.

These kinds of incidents make up a record that helps staff tailor a plan of care for each resident. This record helps staff, and families, know when the situation has changed and the plan of care needs to change as well. It keeps a record of the the resident/care staff interaction, too, which is critical for resident-centered care and quality.

In addition to bed and chair sensors, the RCare system integrates with universal contact sensors and passive sensors to detect unsafe room temperature levels, refrigerator temperature fluctuations, and water overflows. And, of course, the system integrates with a full range of resident-activated devices, such as push-button pendants, pull cords, and the like. The new GEO lets you set safe zones for residents who need it, so care staff are discreetly alerted if and when particular residents move outside their designated safe area. No more loud alarms.

Having a single system that channels all alerts to the same receivers makes sense for busy care staff, who can monitor all concerns, wherever they are, on their mobile device. Having those alerts be discreet and quiet makes for a better living and working environment for everyone. And most importantly, getting rid of those noisy alarms is good for the health and the safety of the residents and the caregiving staff.

RCare eCall Program for Affordable Housing

RCare, maker of advanced wireless nurse call systems, recently announced the addition of a new low-cost eCall Program designed for providers of affordable housing for low-income seniors. This eCall Program is a testament to the company’s mission of improving the quality of care for all seniors, regardless of financial status.

The new RCare eCall Program for Affordable Housing offers the critical capabilities of RCare’s flagship wireless nurse call technologies, for a fraction of the cost. The RCare eCall system will offer savings to affordable housing providers in several ways, including an extremely low cost of entry, minimal hardware to maintain, lowered on-going fees, and requiring only one internet connection for the entire eCall system.

“If you run an affordable senior housing community, you need to talk to us. We can save you money.”

The purpose of RCare’s affordable eCall Program is to provide the very best of nurse call capabilities to America’s lower income seniors, according to RCare CEO, Myron Kowal. “RCare is always looking for ways to offer our comprehensive features at a more competitive price point, especially to those who can’t afford all the bells and whistles,” said Kowal. “If you run an affordable senior housing community, you need to talk to us. We can save you money.”

The RCare eCall Program is simple to install, with one small wall-based touchscreen server and one pendant for each resident. If the building has an existing internet connection, that will be sufficient for the entire RCare eCall Program. No landlines are required. When a resident presses the pendant, the RCare panel will notify the call center, who will assess the situation directly and determine further actions.

RCare has had a busy year of progress and innovations including the announcement of an Amazon Alexa skill, their iOS app launch for RCare Mobile, and RCare’s integration with PointClickCare. RCare was recently nominated for two mobile caregiving awards for “Best of 2018” Mobile Star Awards.

Find out more about RCare. www.rcareinc.com or 585-671-4144.

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.

QAPI Program

Is your nurse call system helping your QAPI efforts?
It should be.

Quality Assurance, and Performance Improvement are on everyone’s minds these days. Because of the new CMS regulations, QAPI is the latest watchword in long-term care and skilled nursing facilities across the country. No doubt your senior community already has an implementation strategy in place for moving forward. But here’s something you may not have realized: Your nurse call system can play an important role in the success of your QAPI program.

RCare is the global provider of advanced, wireless nurse call systems. We’ve designed our nurse call systems to give you the tools you need for your QAPI program. Why are so many communities overlooking the value of nurse call systems for QAPI? It might be because they’re not using RCare.

Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement
QAPI.
1. Caregiver response data. When a resident pulls a cord or pushes a button on their PERS pendant, your caregiving staff responds. It’s one of many services provided in your senior community. And like all other services, it is subject to QAPI. You not only need to know that you’re meeting regulatory minimums of care, you also need hard data to identify ways to improve–even if you’re already doing a good job. RCare provides this data, including response times, call volumes, shift-by-shift comparisons, and even which services are most often provided at the point of care. This data can be key in setting baselines, in planning new ways to improve, and in measuring the effectiveness of changes.

2. Resident call data. Who is calling most frequently? How often do they call, and at what time of day or night? What services are performed? QAPI requires that you look for how things are going routinely. It also requires that you investigate your outliers. Are there needs that aren’t being met well in your facility? Are there individuals who need a change in care plan? What does your data show? With RCare, you’ll know.

3. Environmental response data. Not all calls are triggered by a request from a resident. It’s important to keep tabs on the safety and comfort of the resident’s environment as well. Are your refrigerators keeping food and meds at a safe temperature around the clock? RCare’s refrigerator sensors record data continuously, and alert the staff if the temperature slips out of range. Is a resident having a restless night? RCare’s motion sensors can let you know if there’s unexpected movement in the middle of the night. Did a tub overflow? RCare’s water sensor alerts staff, who can intervene, often before the resident even knows there’s a problem. Integrated right into RCare’s nurse call system, every alert is sent quietly and discreetly. With the “I got it” feature, caregivers can now claim calls avoiding duplication and negligence concerns.

In your job, there’s a lot expected of you. You should expect a lot from your nurse call system. RCare offers the most advanced wireless nurse call technology, for large or small facilities. RCare wants to join efforts and support you as you develop your QAPI program.

Emergency Pendants For SeniorsMy mom isn’t vain, but she does take pride in her appearance. She always has. It never occurred to me that one day it might put her in danger.

Even though she lives in an independent living 65+ community, I still  worry about her. When she started having dizzy spells I took her to the doctor and they adjusted her blood pressure medication. But I wanted her to have one of those push button things, too. You know, the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” buttons. I wanted to know that if she fell or had a problem, all she needed to do was push a button and help would be on the way. So I spoke to the people running the community. Turns out, they do have such buttons and I arranged for Mom to get one.  

The problem was getting her to wear it. At first I thought it was just forgetfulness, but it was limited to this one issue. Every time I picked her up for lunch or dropped in for a visit, she never had it on. When I reminded her, she would apologize and go put it on. But the next time I saw her it would be the same: She didn’t have it on.

That’s when it hit me. Mom wasn’t wearing it because she didn’t like how it looked. And who could blame her? It really was kind of ugly. And it must have felt like wearing a sign that reads “I’m old and frail.” But I kept telling her that if she doesn’t wear it, it won’t do her any good. She seemed to be far less worried than I.

I didn’t know what to do. I felt scared and worried. If mom refused this, I thought about switching her level of care, which she would not like and would be very expensive. So, one last time I went back to the staff and asked for their recommendation. Their response was amazing. Turns out they’d just received new push button pendants from RCare called Pretty Pretty Pendants. They said it might be just right for mom. When I saw them, I had to agree. They looked like they were designed for my mom. They are fully functioning push-button pendants, but the design is sleek, flawless and beautiful, elegant enough to wear as a necklace.

As I suspected I presented the necklace to mom and she loved it. She instantly put it on and it looked amazing, like she does. She wears it with pride, knowing she looks great and I feel great knowing there is that extra safety net.  

Now when I go visit her it’s always on. Every time. Thank you RCare. Pretty Pretty Pendants are pretty great!

RCare donates to American Heart Association for American Heart Month

It’s Valentine’s Day, a special day for celebrating love and romance. And with it comes the pink and red heart decorations, candies, and chocolate treats. A heart is symbol of passion, kindness and love. It’s a great way for us to show people that we care about them.

But maybe we should really be taking this more “to heart.”

This Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to think more seriously about heart health. According to the American Heart Association, about 92.1 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke. Chances are, heart health will become important to someone close to you at some point in their life. That’s why February has been designated as American Heart Month.

Here at RCare we’re always looking for ways to provide better care for people as a whole, their hearts included. As a way of showing our love, and in honor of American Heart Month, we have pledged 5% of all February profits up to $25,000 to the American Heart Association. This donation will help the AHA carry out its mission of reducing heart disease and heart-related deaths through research, training, and advocacy.

“Heart disease and stroke remain the number one and number three causes of death in our community. That is why it’s so important Rochesterians unite during Heart Month and become part of the American Heart Association’s movement to live longer, healthier lives,” said Jason Stulb, Senior Director of Development for the American Heart Association. “We are very excited to have RCare helping us lead the way this year. It’s a huge step toward a heart healthy Rochester, and the funds they raise truly help our community.”

During this month of celebrating love, let’s keep the hearts of our friends and family in mind. As our CEO, Myron Kowal heartily states, “We are enthusiastic to support the American Heart Association this month. Their fight is our fight and we’re all in this together.”

RCare giving thanks

It’s Thanksgiving, and we’re counting our blessings. What are we thankful for? We are thankful for you.

We are thankful for caregivers, and we are thankful for everyone who helps and supports you, so you can do your important work. Why? Because we have family and friends who rely on you. We have parents, grandparents, and other loved ones who depend on your every day. And one day–just like everyone else–we will need you, too. We’re grateful that you’re here, that you’re doing what you do best, and that we know we can count on you to be there for us, now and in the future.

There is no higher calling than caring for others in need. It’s why we strive so hard to serve you, to make your work easier and more effective. And by “you” we don’t mean only the people who show up in mom’s room if she pushes her nurse call button. We mean all of the people who are necessary to make senior living communities work. From executives to food service to facility managers, we thank you.

When we designed RCare wireless nurse call systems, we were thinking about all of you. We were thinking about caregivers, who get good information and great communications. We were thinking about decision-makers, who get top-notch reporting, and the information they need to make the best decisions. We were thinking about facility managers, who need to keep the place running, and running safely. At RCare we know that everyone in your community plays a part in it’s success. Our job is to make each and every person in your community successful.

And we’re thankful that you entrust us to do so. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Mother's Day 2017

Mother’s Day can actually be traced all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. But the more modern-day precursor was in the mid-1800’s, with the formation of “Mother’s Day Work Clubs,” that helped women with childcare. After the Civil War, these clubs became peace organizations, to promote reconciliation between former Union and Confederate soldiers. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

“More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent.”

This Mother’s Day, as you brunch with loved ones, and enjoy fresh flowers and marvelous spring weather, RCare invites you to reflect with us on the reason we appreciate these amazing women in our lives, and the daily contributions and sacrifices they make for all of us. And, let’s also think about the mothers who are not only caring for children, but perhaps a spouse or aging relative as well. Let’s remember the mothers who are working in the caregiving field too. From CNAs to administration to nurses to doctors to social workers, and everyone else helping provide care for the sick, aged and disabled population.

We truly appreciate the incredible and selfless labor of the mothers in our community, the mothers in care, and of course the mothers in our own families.

Please join RCare in giving an extra dose of appreciation to the moms out there.
We appreciate you and we thank you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Image source: Wikimedia Commons