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4 ways technology enhances employee learning and resident care

April 16, 2013
by Rebecca McNeil
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Long-term care (LTC) organizations are faced with countless mandatory training requirements. Scheduling the necessary courses, ensuring that employees across shifts participate and documenting who received training when can be overwhelming. Technology-based solutions, like learning management systems, can enhance employee education, improve resident care and save time for overstretched human resources teams. Here are four ways that a learning management system (LMS) can help:

COMPLY WITH TRAINING-RELATED ACCREDITATION REQUIREMENTS

Recent studies have found that Joint Commission-accredited LTC facilities have better quality of care outcomes, fewer overall deficiency citations and a stronger culture of resident safety than non-accredited facilities.

  • Research published in the March 5, 2012 issue of The Gerontologist analyzed all U.S. nursing homes in 2010 and found that the 874 Joint Commission-accredited facilities had fewer deficiency citations related to resident behavior and facility practices, quality of life, quality of care and the most severe citations.[i]
  • A study in the May 2012 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety assessed the impact of Joint Commission accreditation on patient safety culture. In a survey sent to a random sample of 6,000 nursing homes from all 50 states, the 523 nursing administrators at Joint Commission accredited nursing homes rated eight of the 11 dimensions significantly higher on the Nursing Home Survey on Resident Safety Culture than their peers at non-accredited facilities.[ii]

While there are benefits associated with accreditation, achieving and maintaining accreditation means complying with numerous training-related requirements.

With paper-based documentation, providing the right data for surveyors can be daunting and can take hours. During an audit, surveyors may ask for training transcripts for a specific employee to prove that a person was trained on a particular topic. “Surveyors usually request training information that is related to another problem they have identified, such as infection control,” said Jim Kinsey, Senior Consultation Services Specialist at Planetree. Regulatory bodies may also ask for more granular information, such as proof that people who were absent on a training day got make-up training.

It’s a dart board–LTC facilities are surveyed through an unannounced process, so they subsequently have no idea what surveyors will ask concerning education. With a learning management system (LMS), training reports for specific employees can be generated in minutes, making compliance easier.

EXTEND THE LEARNING TEAM'S REACH

In many LTC facilities, the team handling the education function wears many hats and has numerous responsibilities beyond employee training. A major benefit of an LMS is that it allows organizations to grow despite limited resources. When mandatory training is handled more efficiently, it enables the education team to address other duties.

As with every industry sector, long-term care is striving to do more with less. “A great deal of education in long-term care is mandatory, but the challenge is how to implement it effectively in an environment where every dollar counts,” Kinsey said. “Using technology to automate training is part of a broader automation trend which is all about enhancing productivity.” At larger LTC organizations with multiple sites, an LMS and online courses support easier access to training, reduce travel costs and decrease the amount of time employees are away from resident care activities.

STREAMLINE TRAINING FOR EMPLOYEES AND IMPROVE RESIDENT CARE

Using an LMS can also make training more efficient for caregivers. Their primary focus is resident care and training should help them do their jobs, not consume excessive amounts of time. “Learning management systems streamline mandatory employee training and enable facilities to focus on cultivating skills that are central to resident-centered care,” said Kinsey. “People simply don’t come hardwired with skills related to interacting with family members, conflict resolution, leadership and mentoring. Those are competencies that high-quality LTC facilities invest in.”

MAKE TRAINING MORE ENGAGING

Too often, employees find mandatory training tedious and they just “check the boxes,” in hopes of getting the minimum score. A learning management system can make compliance training more interesting and accessible to staff, which translates into greater retention of information.

According to Michael Rochelle, chief strategy officer at Brandon Hall Group, the key to engaging education is making it “just in time and just for me.” He noted, “With a learning management system, caregivers at LTC facilities can access courses that provide vital training wherever and whenever they need it. A learning management system can also deliver dynamic content that is attractive to the caregivers and motivates them to learn.”

An LMS enables employees to track their own credentials, continuing education credits and training online. Many organizations have found that when employees have a to-do list, they are more actively aware of the training they need to complete.

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