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A senior wearing a mask

The world has been turned upside-down this year. Long-term health care facilities and short-term rehabilitation facilities have had to change almost every policy, plan, structure, and rule. Among these changes, there have been difficult new policies, like the inability to allow guests and visitors, and there have also been beneficial new policies, like incorporating more useful technology and cleaning protocols.

When facility lockdowns began, short-term and long-term facilities were scrambling to figure out how to keep their staff and residents safe, and how to create an environment that was still cohesive to health and wellness. Many facilities drilled down to their core ideals and rebuilt their facilities from there. Health Management, based in Warner Robins, Georgia, went down to their roots, with resident safety being their number one concern, they worked to choreograph their new normal from there.

With the main goal of resident safety in mind, Health Management, like most other long-term care and short-term rehabilitation facilities, made the incredibly difficult choice to restrict or limit visitors. In the void of missing visitors, many facilities and care homes have sought to fill this loss. Facilities have worked to keep their Facebook pages updated, so family members can see recent pictures of their loved ones. They have worked to have skype, zoom, or facetime dates scheduled, and on making sure staff spends more time socializing with residents and patients to ensure they are receiving the social aspect of healing and fulfillment.

Loved ones visiting together with masks on.

The visitor void hasn’t been the only opportunity for technology to improve the lives of those in long-term care facilities or short-term rehabilitation facilities during this pandemic. Software to digitize health records, called PointClickCare, that was in production when the pandemic started, sped up the rollout by about 6 months. This software has helped facilities manage, identify, and report infections in real-time.

Another technology that has improved resident and patient life at long-term and short-term care facilities is an app called M-Factor tool, which allows residents, staff, and family members access to each resident’s or patient’s daily schedule and activities. This app allows family members peace of mind, staff to stay organized, and residents and patients to stay informed. This app has also allowed facilities to more fully implement social distancing measures, and the ability to contact trace. Contact tracing allows facilities to see who each resident has been in contact with in order to stop the spread of the virus, should someone test positive.

Though the pandemic has changed almost all aspects of life, and it has made life much more difficult, it has allowed for a few opportunities that weren’t previously available. One exciting example is in a facility in New Jersey. This facility put on a one-hour virtual concert featuring songs performed by a cast of Broadway stars. The residents were able to enjoy the live performance virtually.

In conclusion, life in short-term and post-acute care facilities has been upended. Staff, residents, and family members have had to adapt and change in order to fulfill safety measures and protocols. Though these have been very difficult in many ways, staff, family members, and residents have found creative ways to work together to improve the quality of life and ability of the residents.