Using new technologies can be challenging in an industry entrenched in using the same telephone, fax, and pager systems for decades. Many problems in health care stem from the industry clinging to outdated methods of communication.
But in Arkansas nursing homes, we are embracing new technologies. We have homes that are using new technology to improve the quality of care and the quality of life for their residents.
Can you imagine talking into your phone in one language and hearing a translated voice in another language? What a wonderful way to allow communication between residents and staff. No longer are we tied to a communication board and the stilted language of gestures.
Lakewood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center recently purchased a Lenovo tablet computer and an application called Lyngo that allows CNAs to provide care for a lady who speaks only Mandarin Chinese.
The lady did not come to the home when they thought she would, but the staff used the technology to communicate with another resident who spoke another language.
The administrator, Sandra Mancell, demonstrated the application and how easy it is to use for bedside care. Just speak into the tablet and the app produces the translation in the language you choose. The program and computer were not costly. It could be kept at bedside and could be used by all staff and visitors. What a wonderful learning experience for staff and residents. The social director, Nan Kelley, talked about how it would be useful for different residents, because of the many languages in the application. Imagine hearing “How can I help you?” in your own language, being able to respond without having to wait for family or others to translate your needs. Real-time care!
In Arkansas we are using many other new technology tools as well. Our homes are embracing the possibilities of patients communicating with their physicians via the Internet. The resident can see the physician, and the physician can both see the resident and hear lung sounds, heart, etc.
What about our culture change homes? Call lights and buzzers often create an overwhelming amount of noise in our homes. What a glaring way to transmit that you have a need. The flashers or beepers are going off because they’re required by regulation, but in some homes the call lights are wired into a silent system that goes to personal pagers, and overhead paging systems are turned off or used only in case of emergency. Messages get to the right people via phone speaker systems, walkie-talkies and pagers. Staff members at homes where overhead paging is turned off say it is nice, quiet, like home, and peaceful. Visitors notice that it is not a loud scary place, but somewhere you can hear laughter and singing from down the hall.
Many of our Arkansas homes are using computer labs, video programs and Skype. We know that some nursing home residents are lonely and feel disconnected from the outside world. Some studies have found that nursing home residents who communicate with friends and family via computers or video experience a better quality of life. For residents whose family members are out of town, a short video chat can help to combat feelings of not being connected to family. Some residents talk with their home-bound spouses through personal area labs.
Computers with programs like It’s Never 2 Late to Learn are being used for residents to keep their minds sharp. All these technologies help make residents feel like a part of the world community.
In Arkansas nursing homes we are using new technologies to make person-directed care a reality.