The majority of long term care communities highlight the importance of personalization to providing the best quality care to residents. And no wonder—research shows that knowing the needs of residents can better help to develop and implement successful care plans. Personalized care may be even more important for Memory Care, as it requires specific knowledge of each resident—in the past and in the present—to be successful. But with the day-to-day demands, coupled with high staff turnover, it can be challenging to provide. We recently spoke with PointClickCare’s Travis Palmquist, Vice President and General Manager of Senior Living, and Murry Mercier, Senior Living Team Lead, about the benefits and challenges of personalized care—and how the right tools can help senior living care staff provide for the individual needs of Memory Care residents.
Why is personalized care especially critical to Memory Care communities?
Murry Mercier (MM): In any community, it’s important to join the residents where they are in their life, in their mental and physical capacity, in their environmental capacity, and in their emotional capacity, so you can understand how to best support them. This is commonly referred to as “joining them in their journey.”
This becomes increasingly important with Memory Care services. For these to work well, you need to know an individual deeply. Where they came from, their history, who they were—as well as who they are today. For example, I sat with a resident today who told me they were a pilot 50 years ago. That’s something that may be helpful to staff later. If there’s a way to put that into a system to share with other staff, it’s another tool to help start a conversation or find a new way to connect with that resident; possibly even de-escalate a future situation. By having a way to collect those details, we can create a better understanding of each resident—thus helping staff provide better support.
What are some of the biggest challenges of providing that level of care?
Travis Palmquist (TP): One of the biggest challenges is determining how to provide personalized care. What it is that your staff needs to do. There’s not a lot of standardization—there’s no one assessment or magic formula to making it happen, because truly personalized care is constantly evolving. You must be constantly learning, assessing, and updating a care plan based on what’s important to the resident and their family, and what’s necessary to help them reach their maximum level of living experience. There needs to be a way to capture resident information and then make it actionable—not just for one staff member on one shift but for all staff members across all shifts. You need tools that are thorough yet flexible enough to meet the needs of communities that are providing Memory Care. Whether you are talking about managing a person’s physiological challenges or the medications they are taking, when it comes to Memory Care, everything can change from day to day. You need the right tools to help you keep up with those changes.
How does having the right tools help with managing quality metrics?
TP: It’s about providing information so staff can do the right thing for residents consistently across shifts. It can be difficult when you have 20 to 30 residents, and staff on three different shifts trying to monitor and track developments or issues for each one. If you are documenting changes on a piece of paper, they can be lost or not communicated to the right people. But if you have technological tools that are easy to learn and utilize, care providers can understand and identify the right services to deliver to each resident consistently across all shifts. It makes it easy to do an assessment and identify risks—and then document them so the community can have a plan in place to address them. When you are able to tie assessments directly to a care plan, you can ensure you are delivering quality care every step of the way.
What about easing transitions for residents?
MM: Having technology in place that transfers pertinent information as a resident moves between environments is really important. Having a customizable tool that allows you to organize the most up-to-date information is incredibly helpful. It’s important that the next environment understands the holistic needs of a cognitively impaired individual. Knowing a resident’s tendencies and habits upfront can make all the difference.
Tell me more about the importance having real-time access to personalized resident information.
MM: You’re only as good as the moment you’re in. You need tools so staff members have the information they need at the moment they need it. Having the ability to access a full care plan—whether from a smartphone or a kiosk—offers staff the information they need to respond to whatever situation is at hand.
TP: Exactly. Having that kind of information can be important to de-escalating a potentially bad situation—which, unfortunately, is common in Memory Care. But, it goes beyond access to resident information. It’s a constant challenge to stay on top of the latest trends in training and education. And, when it comes to long term care, high staff turnover is a reality. Having real-time access to that information helps your staff do the right thing for residents on a consistent basis.
What are some of the biggest challenges to implementing these tools?
The Memory Care Forums connect key professionals so that they may share best practices, field research, and practical solutions for improving quality memory care. Hands-on approaches, train-the-trainer sessions, experiential demonstrations, and rich discussions are at the core of each Memory Care Forum.