How much of a challenge is long-term care in our society? The numbers speak for themselves: half of all people turning 65 now will need long-term care (LTC) in their lifetimes. That translates to 15 million people by 2050, more than twice the current number.
In any challenge, of course, lies opportunity for diligent, creative and committed participants. Long-term care providers are increasingly looking to how both they and their residents can enjoy the most successful outcomes possible in the future. Recent research indicates that the wisest will concentrate in three arenas:
3. Caring Culture
One: Cleanliness Counts
The image of LTC is, as the name suggests, one of caring for long-term illnesses. But the prevention and containment of short-term sickness, particularly infections, is also a critical determinant of both quality of life and cost of operation in long-term care facilities. Fortunately, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that one-third of all such infections are thoroughly preventable.
Two: Cost-containment Pays
The CDC also notes that each and every infection in an LTC or other health care facility costs on average $30,000. Or, flipping that fact, preventing each infection is a potential savings of tens of thousands of dollars. While the potential cost-savings are enormous, many prevention efforts are fairly easy and low-cost. Hand-cleanliness, for staff and residents, is a good example, given the ready availability and affordability of hand-sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and touch-free hand-towel dispensers.
Three: Creating a caring culture benefits all
Some of the biggest upside potential in long-term care lies in remembering that it’s not only health care – it’s life care. Successful LTC organizations can create healthier environments that are more liveable in the long-term by creating a “comprehensive culture of caring,” one that is patient-centered and encompasses the concerns, and input, of residents, their families, and the staff that hopefully seeks to serve them like family.
Research conducted by the Gerontological Society of America found that “LTC facilities, however characterized, comprise potential eldertopias with rich, untapped resources
within their populations of elders. The culture change movement in LTC has prompted great improvements in some nursing homes and has made strides to address the plagues of boredom and loneliness.” Resident involvement in facility assessment and change is cited as a key factor in improvement, while failure to engage staff in the process appears to be one of the largest stumbling blocks. The upshot? Forward-thinking LTC providers can set themselves apart by working to create an involved, mutually-respecting culture across stakeholders, from the main office to staff caregivers and maintenance personnel, right on through to the involvement of residents and their adult children.
One easy way to “sell” your staff on creating a work-life culture that is more caring? Make it easy for them to do their jobs. Provide regular education, reward positive performance, and equip them with the products and equipment that will make their work go more smoothly every day.
Do you have a culture of caring?