Technological Improvements in the Assisted Living Facilities

Every medical organization should continuously seek ways to develop its services to improve the quality of care it provides. However, change is particularly essential for assisted living facilities. Disabled persons and older people who cannot or choose not to live alone come to these institutions for long-term help and support. Therefore, assisted living residences should do their best to ensure that their clients can lead meaningful, comfortable, and dignified lives. These days many technological improvements can be introduced to ensure patients safety and convenience, as well as to alleviate some problems healthcare specialists face while working in such institutions. For instance, new smart carpet technologies are introduced to detect falls distinguishing them from other physical movements (Wickramasinghe et al., 2017). Falls are among the major problems in assisted living facilities – they can lead to various injuries and increase medical costs due to hospitalization (Wickramasinghe et al., 2017). They can also reduce patients life expectancy, particularly if they spend on the floor longer than an hour (Wickramasinghe et al., 2017). Furthermore, falling and lying, unable to get up, can have a detrimental effect on a person’s mental health. Therefore, it is essential to introduce technologies that can allow nurses to provide immediate assistance to their patients.

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To introduce such changes, a quality improvement team should include a facility’s leaders (such as finance and medical directors), technical specialists, nurses, as well as patients and their relatives. First of all, clinical and financial leadership is important because implementing new technologies can be a costly and complicated process that requires administrative efforts (Forming a Quality Improvement Team at a Practice, 2013). Technical specialists, in turn, should be responsible for developing and introducing changes accommodating the existing technologies to a residence’s needs (Forming a Quality Improvement Team at a Practice, 2013). Moreover, their role would include providing nurses with the necessary training to use the technologies implemented. The participation of nurses themselves is essential because they may have a better understanding of the challenges a facility faces than anybody else. However, it is necessary to ensure that patients and their relatives are also involved in the decision-making process. Clients are the people who directly benefit when improvements are made, but, in some cases, they may be reluctant to accept change. For instance, many elderly people are rather conservative towards new technologies, which impedes smart home functionalities’ introduction on a broader scale (Pal et al., 2018). However, research indicates a positive correlation between an expert’s advice and the willingness of older people to perceive technology as useful (Pal et al., 2018). In other words, if a medical specialist can convincingly explain why the new technology is beneficial, patients will be more likely to accept it. Therefore, they must participate in the decision-making process being provided with all the facts and opportunities to voice their opinions.

However, not only patients can be conservative – sometimes, it can be challenging to engage staff members in discussing and implementing changes as well. To be an active part of a quality improvement team, nurses should understand why modernization matters. Therefore, they must be explained how their clients and they, as practitioners, may benefit from the suggested advances. For instance, fall detection technologies can not only significantly decrease the chances of long-term complications among patients but also improve nurses working experience. Smart carpet technologies can allow nurses to be confident that they would be immediately notified and be able to provide help as soon as it is needed in case of a fall. However, another essential factor would be assuring employees that their opinions matter. Instead of just introducing changes and requiring personnel to adapt, it can be advantageous to give them a chance to be a part of a committee responsible for this improvement. Having experience of being personally involved can make nurses more eager to actively incorporate new tools in their everyday practice.

References

Forming a Quality Improvement Team at a Practice (2013). Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Web.

Pal, D., Funilkul, S., Charoenkitkarn, N., & Kanthamanon, P. (2018). Internet-of-things and smart homes for elderly healthcare: An end user perspective. IEEE Access, 6, 10483-10496.

Wickramasinghe, A., Torres, R. L. S., & Ranasinghe, D. C. (2017). Recognition of falls using dense sensing in an ambient assisted living environment. Pervasive and mobile computing, 34, 14-24.

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