Provider Magazine March 2010


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Social media for senior living and long-term care is the cover story in the March 2010 edition of Provider Magazine.

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Provider Magazine March 2010

  2. 2. KATHLEEN LOURDE SOCIAL MEDIA IS GIVING PROVIDERS NEW WAYS TO COMMUNICATE WITH FAMILIES, PROSPECTS, AND OTHER KEY PLAYERS. J oni Morrissey, the granddaughter of a resi- Julia Fraser, administrator of The Worthington, dent at The Worthington, likes to look in controls who’s allowed to become a “friend” of the on the Brick, N.J., assisted living facility’s page—only residents, family members, and real-time Facebook page to see what’s happening at friends—so residents’ privacy isn’t violated. She de- the facility and in the lives of her grand- veloped a permission slip for residents or their family mother and her grandmother’s friends and members to sign before a photo of them is ever posted also to chat with and be supportive of the on the Facebook page. Fraser likes to post photos of community of “friends” of the page. residents involved in a craft or other activity and can “It’s a great way to actually see on a regular basis what post a caption under the photo using the resident’s own is going on,” says Morrissey. “My relatives in Texas and words to send a message to family members—and other Florida can see my grandmother ‘in the flesh,’ so to “friends”—electronically. speak, and comment on goings on. We can pass condo- Fraser and her staff are “extremely diligent” about lences and well wishes to the families of other residents if keeping families involved in life at the facility, and the there is a death or illness. We even joke around, too!” Facebook page is an extension of that effort. “I send out a family letter every month, we call families all the time Measures Protect Privacy for good and bad things, e-mail, text, etc.,” says Fraser. “Opening families up to this type of media gives true “After I myself joined Facebook and realized how easy meaning to an open door policy,” says Morrissey. it was to keep up with [my own] friends and family, it “What’s nice also is that Julia [the administrator] keeps seemed like a perfect tool to add to The Worthington’s tabs on who our members are so that our loved ones are efforts in open communication.” not out there in cyberspace for all to see.” Fraser says the top three drivers of satisfaction are Provider March 2010 23
  3. 3. communication, communication, and organization that educates companies communication. “Any tool you can on how to use social media in their use to safely communicate with your marketing efforts. “A fundamental shift families—use it. We scored huge in the of how we communicate has happened [Summit, N.J.-based parent company due to social media,” she says. Chelsea Senior Living’s] customer Social media offers up an array of satisfaction survey because we commu- ‘IT’S NOT JUST A FAD, AND possibilities to long term care provid- nicate like mad.” ers, provided they go about the process IT’S NOT JUST TEENAGERS. of immersing themselves in it in the What Is Social Media? A FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT OF right way. And because front-line staff Social media is a conversation, a give are likely already familiar with it, the and take, as opposed to the monologues HOW WE COMMUNICATE HAS usual barrier to incorporating new of television and the printed word. It is technology to the workplace—resis- HAPPENED.’ communication that informs, but then tance due to unfamiliarity—isn’t there. goes beyond that to spark a discussion. Personalities emerge from the profile, are some other smaller niche sites that But Would Residents And the status update, tweet, photo, blog, or are gaining momentum.” Facebook Family Use It? video. Acquaintances become “friends,” alone has 350 million active users as of Interviews with numerous long term friends become “family,” and family be- September 2009. care providers revealed that many be- come more closely bound—all because “It’s not just a fad, and it’s not just lieve that not only would their residents of frequent communication that ranges teenagers,” says Beverly Macy, chief never use social media, but that their from trivial to earth-shaking, just as life executive officer (CEO) of Gravity baby boomer children, who often make does. Summit, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based the decision to place a resident in a par- Social media is a term that covers an array of computer platforms, the most popular today being Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, www life and Flickr. “Social media is the term for Web sites that publish user-generated Now Everything Connects with RosieConnect™ content,” says John Cruickshank, an attorney with Alaniz & Schraeder, a labor relations legal firm based in Houston. “Most experts describe the rise of social media as Web 2.0, [a term that] was coined to identify the shift in the production of Web site content from large corporations to individuals.” Now, many of the large corporations have incorporated user-generated con- tent to their Web sites, adding blogs, social networks, or discussion boards for feedback. Most sites are growing at a tremen- dous pace, says Cruickshank. * Requires assistance from EMR vendor Scott Testa, a professor of business at Cabrini College in Philadelphia, has RosieConnect is a touchscreen RosieConnect eliminates conducted research into social media. computer attached to the Rosie Vital documentation errors by wirelessly “The fastest growing [social media Signs cart that moves from resident to transmitting data to a PC or EMR*. sites] at this point are Facebook and resident automatically recording vital Twitter,” says Testa. “MySpace is start- signs, weight and blood glucose at the Call 800-841-1109 to learn more. ing to lose members or is stagnant. touch of a button. LinkedIn continues to grow, and there Provider March 2010 25
  4. 4. SOCIAL MEDIA: TIPS AND TERMS B efore jumping into the world of its members to utilize social media lows friends, colleagues, and business- social media, company leaders to promote and publicize National es to stay connected through short must first determine why they Nursing Home Week activities. Fol- messages sent via Twitter’s Web site. are doing it and what they want to lowing are some quick tips for getting Messages may also be sent via text accomplish with it. is a started with three of the most popular messaging or instant messaging. To blog that focuses exclusively on social sites: create a personal or facility account, media news and resources and offers Facebook. A social networking visit and click on numerous “how to” guides for “Sign Up Now.” After creating an getting started. account, the first “tweet” can be Identify a champion. Some posted. In the box under “What’s department or individual within happening?” write a message in the company needs to “own” 140 characters or less and click social media. Lots of depart- “Update.” In order to receive ments might be consulted when other tweets, follow others. Mes- it comes to decision making, but sages from these accounts will be ultimately someone has to be held posted on the home page. There accountable for the outcomes. is no charge for using Twitter. If For many smaller companies, this using Twitter via a mobile phone, responsibility might fall to sales text charges may apply depend- or marketing. Another option is ing on the mobile phone plan. using consultants for certain as- For more information, visit www. pects of the strategy and internal and click on “Help” resources for the rest. at the bottom of the page. Consider the employees. YouTube. YouTube is a Web Companies need to assess their Facebook alone has more than 10 million users aged site designed for users to watch, employees’ level of knowledge 55 and older. upload, and comment on videos. and interest and offer training Virtually anyone with an Internet where necessary. General Motors, for Web site where individuals can cre- connection and a webcam or compat- example, posted a 45-minute Social ate a personal or facility profile, add ible digital camera can upload videos Media 101 interactive training course “friends,” and send messages. Face- to YouTube. To watch a video, visit on its intranet that gave employees book includes a number of unique and search for it by the basics on how, why, and where to features and applications, allowing entering key words in the search field. engage in social media. Other compa- users to update personal or facility To upload a video or leave a com- nies have developed job aids, such as profiles as often as they like. ment, an account must be established. flow charts or decision trees, to help To get started, a user creates an ac- Go to the site and click on “Create employees determine when and how count on To cre- Account.” to respond to blogs and inquiries. ate a facility account, click on “Create Uploading a video is done by click- Listen first. Don’t be afraid to ask a Page for a Celebrity, Band, or Busi- ing on the “Upload” button at the top questions on- and offline. It is impor- ness.” The account enables the user to of the page, browsing for the video tant to remember that some ideas will add information to the profile, write file, and clicking “Upload Video.” Be not work, but there are lessons to be thoughts on the Facebook “Wall,” sure to edit the video before upload- learned from such failures. Identify and search for and add friends or ing it to YouTube. Videos must be no expert users to follow and recommend fans. Users can also upload photos or larger than two gigabytes in size and connections. videos, plan events, and send e-mail. no longer than 10 minutes in length. Facebook users can join groups and There is no cost to use YouTube. Some Popular Sites become fans of other Facebook pages. The American Health Care Asso- Facebook is a free tool. Source: American Health Care Associa- ciation recently began encouraging Twitter. Twitter is a service that al- tion and 26 Provider March 2010
  5. 5. ticular facility, don’t use it and wouldn’t it is to communicate with their grand- “Social media sites are how these be effectively reached through social kids on Facebook and MySpace.” decision makers will make their deci- media. “The idea that older adults are Further, research indicates baby sions,” says Cruickshank. “They will not using social media is false,” says boomers and the younger members want to read the reviews and comments Cruickshank. “Facebook currently has of the previous generation are turn- of other people describing their experi- over 10 million users aged 55 and over. ing to social media to help them make ences” with the long term care facility, That number will only go up—espe- purchasing decisions and to find health he says. cially as grandparents realize how easy care information. Macy agrees. “Fifty to 65 is a very active online audience for health care research and understanding what they want to do with their parents,” she says. A study conducted in June 2009 by Cable & Telecommunications As- sociation for Marketing found that 71 percent of seniors aged 65 and older go to the Internet to look up health and medical information, among other things, and that 39 percent of baby boomers regularly go to social net- working Web sites, forums, message boards, and chat rooms. A study published a year earlier conducted by New York City-based ThirdAge, which researches the media and marketing habits of baby boomers, found that 97 percent of boomers go to the Internet for health care informa- tion. In making decisions, their findings indicate boomers value word-of-mouth recommendations, expert opinions, and trusted brands. “They relate to people sharing a similar life phase—and they trust those who have walked in their shoes,” said ThirdAge CEO Sharon Whiteley. A more recent ThirdAge study, con- ducted between July and August 2009, found that the Internet is playing an increasingly important role in the lives of boomers caring for sick or elderly loved ones. A majority indicated that they seek or plan to seek resources and information on caregiving online; 20 percent said they would turn to social networking sites dedicated to this topic. “This is an important measure of where people seek information, sup- port, and advice and shows that today’s midlifers are proactively seeking solu- tions online, even for these sensitive, emotionally charged family health care issues,” said Whiteley in a statement. Marketing and public relations direc- 28 Provider March 2010
  6. 6. tors at long term care communities are care providers are beginning to heed “Your brand is no longer what you say taking note. the warning. it is, it’s what others say it is,” he points “It’s an amazing phenomenon, and “These networks are changing out. “And social media helps you learn it’s something we all need to be part of the way people learn and make deci- a great deal about your stakeholders because that’s where the conversation is sions,” says Michael Smith, corporate and their priorities—how they make taking place,” says Bonnie Polishuk, di- director of public relations for ACTS decisions and what they value.” rector of marketing for the Los Angeles Retirement-Life Communities, a not- Smith says some people at ACTS Jewish Home. for-profit aging services organization. were a little skeptical at first about Many Providers Cautious Despite the increase of social media use by baby boomers, many long term care companies are cautious about using the sites to reach decision makers. “The use of social media in the se- niors housing industry is in its infancy,” says Liz Bush, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Life Care Services (LCS), Des Moines, Iowa. Us- ing social media in a variety of ways is under discussion at LCS, but has yet to pass the discussion stage. “Use of or work with social media to promote communities is limited to a few pio- neers,” she says. Macy thinks long term care com- panies will increasingly turn to social media to reach their stakeholders. She likens it to Web sites. Ten years ago, companies weren’t sure that they needed one, but “then there was a tip- ping point where everybody had a Web site. And now it’s a regular business process,” she says. “We’re at this place where there’s a real transition occur- ring, and it’s very exciting.” Most of those who see the value in using social media are proceeding with caution. “We really just got our main Web site where we want it within the last year or so,” says Tom Kranz, public relations director of Chelsea Senior Living. “The company’s been kind of slow moving in that area. In terms of social media, the approach will be slow and careful. Privacy and security of our residents comes first; marketing comes second. I think we’ll do more [with social media], but we’re not rushing into it.” Those who ignore social media do so at their peril, say experts, and long term Provider March 2010 29
  7. 7. using social media, “and that’s natu- ral. Any time something new appears TOP 10 ONLINE DESTINATIONS FOR PEOPLE 65+ there’s a little skepticism involved as IN NOVEMBER 2009 (United States) far as what the impact will be,” he says. “But now that social networking has RANK SITE 65+ AUDIENCE % OF TOTAL SITE gone mainstream, it’s seen more as a (MILLIONS) AUDIENCE necessity and embraced as a marketing 1 Google Search 10.25 7.7 tool.” 2 Windows Media Player 8.24 10.9 3 Facebook 7.95 7.2 Start With A Strategy 4 YouTube 7.67 8.4 So social media is a good tool for 5 Amazon 5.68 9.3 reaching baby boomers who will, at 6 Yahoo! Mail 5.64 7.8 some point, likely need to look for a 7 Yahoo! Search 5.58 8.7 long term care facility of some kind for 8 Yahoo! Homepage 5.38 6.8 their parents. But should a company 9 Bing Web 4.51 10.1 just start setting up accounts with the 10 Google Maps 4.40 8.4 various platforms? Start with a plan, experts advise. Source: The Nielsen Co. Providers should “build a [social media] strategy just as any marketing employees, the media, and legislators, helpful to really figure out who’s going strategy, and understand that these are experts say. to be operating that and how does it fit simply new distribution [forums] for ACTS’ strategy involved “creating into your overall strategy.” the branding message,” says Macy. goals, creating content, measuring our Macy recommends going to an Begin with learning about social me- efforts, understanding challenges and expert when it comes to rolling out the dia and how it works. Answer questions risks in managing social media, and company’s presence in social media. such as who are you trying to reach, having some guidelines in place for our “You’ve spent thousands of dollars, what are you trying to accomplish, how employees when posting on behalf of maybe millions of dollars, building are you going to accomplish it, who the corporation,” says Smith. “We want your brand. Don’t turn [social media is going to do the work, what sort of to drive traffic back to our Web site efforts] over to an intern.” policy or guidelines do you need where people can learn more about our But many long term care companies, to develop to keep everyone on track company and the services we provide, like Ecumen, prefer to keep that work and protect the company legally, and and ultimately be a lead generator,” he in-house. how are you going to measure your says. The Jewish Home has hired a effectiveness? “The key point I wanted to make full-time employee whose sole focus Eric Schubert, vice president of is we view social media as a comple- is social media, says Polishuk. This em- communications and public affairs for ment to the other forms of outreach,” ployee will maintain the Facebook and Ecumen, a faith-based provider of se- Smith says. “It doesn’t replace other Twitter pages. He’ll send out tweets niors housing from independent living means of relationship-building with (messages) and news releases and come to long term care based in Shoreview, residents, families, and other stakehold- up with strategies to generate traffic Minn., says asking those questions is ers; doesn’t replace the personal visits, and interest. essential. “Why do you want to use it, e-mail, direct mail, ads, events, and and how are you going to use it?” says public relations efforts,” he says. “The Learning How To Use Social Media Schubert. “We just threw a Facebook key is integrating the benefits of en- Before launching any content on social page up there and didn’t answer those gagement and listening and dialog that media sites, spend some time getting questions,” and the page was not these networks provide with a broader familiar with the various sites and successful. communications strategy.” determining who will be best reached When determining who to reach Also important to consider is who by which site. through social media, certainly in- will be doing the work of maintaining For example, if the purpose is to clude families and baby boomers, but the social media sites. To be effective, recruit professional staff, look at consider other stakeholders, too, such someone will have to consistently and LinkedIn, which is a social networking as informal caregivers, people with frequently post content to these sites. site for professionals. With LinkedIn, disabilities, referral sources, potential “It does take time to maintain and to after creating a profile an approach donors, residents, current and potential use,” says Schubert, “and so I think it’s might be to join long term care-related Provider March 2010 31
  8. 8. groups to begin to foster relationships them to create community amongst If the purpose is to get people to that may result in an optimal hire. themselves. “Families really like it,” actually look at the facility so they If the purpose is to make senior staff says Kranz. can see how nice it is, then Flickr, available as subject matter experts, a photo-sharing site, or YouTube, a an approach might be to start a blog. Going The Group Route video-sharing site, may be the best bet. Readers of the blog may ask ques- Fraser recommends that administra- Those sites are also good for publiciz- tions that the expert could answer. tors—or the designated social media ing images of a recent event. But before starting a blog, spend time person—set the page up as a “group” To connect family with residents reading what’s already out there. Figure rather than as an individual or fan page. more effectively, consider using Skype, out how to differentiate the company’s “I first tried to set it up as a ‘person,’ a free video call application using the blog, or make it more valuable than but then there were warnings from Internet. “We can enhance quality of what’s already available. See how blogs life by having laptops available so [resi- are written and how reader comments dents] can do a Skype call” with their are handled. loved ones, says Purtell. Blogs are also a great tool for To reach baby boomers, do a communicating with residents ‘TO CONNECT Google search on “social media sites and families, says Brian Purtell, for baby boomers,” which will pull an attorney and director of legal FAMILY WITH RESI- up a list of such sites, like, services for the Wisconsin Health DENTS MORE EFFEC- targeted directly to this population, Care Association. “I don’t think Purtell says. people know how simple it is to TIVELY, CONSIDER Whatever the goal, chances are a set up a blog that would allow social media site or application exists them to give residents and family USING SKYPE.’ that will meet the need. members real-time updates about If Cruickshank could give provid- facility news and information,” he ers one piece of advice about social says. Newsletter information “isn’t media sites, it would be, “Don’t particularly relevant by the time it be afraid of them. Many people, comes out.” especially those who grew up before Compare that with a blog that the age of the Internet, are worried family members subscribe to—and that this medium has already passed to which access is limited—in which them by,” he says. “They couldn’t be a provider can, for example, remind more wrong. Social networking sites family members of an event like a are designed to be simple. Starting a family picnic that is going to happen in Facebook page takes a mouse, a key- the very near future, he says. Facebook that ‘if you are a business and board, and about four minutes. Don’t If the purpose is to keep staff at a sign up as a person you’ll be in big, big be afraid of something that is designed number of facilities informed of what’s trouble,’” says Fraser. to be easy. Try it out. You might even going on in the profession, maybe “So I tried as a fan page, but realized like it.” Twitter would be an option. Content that anyone could access your page and on that particular site must be limited post comments. With the way team Taking The Plunge to 140 characters, so “tweets” could members come and go in this industry, Ecumen is significantly involved in share links to articles of interest on the the thought of sour employees posting social media and first got involved in Web, for example, along with encour- bad things was too risky. So I found the it three years ago when it was still very aging brief conversations among staff ‘group’ arena and set us up as a closed new. Today, the company regularly to make them feel more like a group with permission needed to join posts on Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, and community. or access it.” YouTube and has three blogs. If the goal is to keep family mem- To encourage family members to Schubert had several reasons for get- bers informed of what’s happening at a join the group, Fraser sent out a flyer ting Ecumen involved in social media, facility, The Worthington’s experience with her monthly “family packet” and particularly blogging. “I’m kind of a shows that Facebook or MySpace may mentioned it in three consecutive media junkie,” admits Schubert. Back be a good option, and they have the family letters. “Now I mention it every before launching the company into added benefit of introducing family couple of months, and we include it in social media, he kept seeing so many members to each other and allowing our family orientation packet,” she says. “neat stories” on senior services and 32 Provider March 2010
  9. 9. noticing the many interesting things that the profession was doing. He began “looking for an outlet to share that information [with] other people who might be interested in the subject. So blogging really seemed to be a good vehicle for us.” The first blog the company launched on its Web site, “Changing Aging,” provides news, ideas, and opinions re- lating to innovation in senior services. Two years later, divisions within the company added another two blogs: one provided by their clinical consulting AMDA Institute for LTC Practice Improvement: division, which acts as a nursing facility help desk, and one produced by their Navigating Geriatric development division, which is targeted to people who are considering develop- Psychiatry in Long ing seniors housing. The blogs also help cohesion within Term Care Evidence-Based Strategies for the Interdisciplinary Team the company, which has 80 locations in five states. They “allow our employees to learn more about things that may be happening within Ecumen or the pro- ■ Discuss effective strategies in the management of common fession or aging and senior services.” behavioral symptoms associated with delirium, dementia, and depression ACTS is rolling out a new Web site ■ Gain practical knowledge from experienced long term care in the first quarter of this year that will professionals and tools for immediate implementation in your integrate a good deal of social media. practice setting The company currently is active with ■ Network with members of the Interdisciplinary Team and Twitter and plans to roll out Facebook, share best practices LinkedIn, a YouTube channel, podcasts, ■ Access valuable resources to help you succeed in the a blog, and lots of video and audio to management of mental health issues in long term care coincide with the redesign of its Web site, Smith says. “Also in the works are portals with resident-generated content, offering the ability to connect with other ACTS residents and family members, view in-house television, and [other] content.” “We envision all of these platforms are going to help us have a dialog Register online at and a free exchange of ideas with our stakeholders, as well as greatly enhance our brand awareness and recruitment efforts,” he says. Social Media As A Marketing Tool Most every business nowadays is look- ing at how social media can be used to market goods or services to consumers, referral sources, and peers, says Macy. Macy didn’t have statistics on how effective social media marketing is for Provider March 2010 33
  10. 10. the long term care profession, but data because Facebook told her 80 potential Rackner, a physician and an informal are coming out about how social media people were out there who would be caregiver, has a good idea of what such marketing is doing for other industries, interested in her advertisement, but caregivers want and need. She posted a she says. “In the auto industry, JD Pow- she only gets about two hits on her ad a video about how to talk to your doctor, ers released at the end of 2009 [data month, she says. None of the hits have and that video got more hits than mil- showing that] social media is driving led to new residents. lions of other similar videos. marketing for consumers more so than But according to Vicki Rackner, MD, “If I can learn how to do this, anyone print ads, that word-of-mouth market- president of The Caregiver Club, a can do this. They can make their own ing is more powerful than ever.” Web-based social networking commu- videos. It’s so easy to buy the latest Providers in the long term care pro- nity for family caregivers out of Mercer Kodak camera and upload the videos to fession are just beginning to evaluate Island, Wash., plenty of caregivers YouTube and other sites,” Rackner says. advertising on social media sites. could benefit from appropriate infor- “The Internet works beautifully for mation provided to them via social [caregivers] because they experience Social Media And Advertising media sites, and, if done right, learn to isolation, and it’s a chance to get con- Kranz has just placed his first Facebook trust the company that provides it. nected,” Rackner says. And it’s equally ad for Chelsea Senior Living. These In getting The Caregiver Club off valuable for the people the caregiv- are small ads that appear on the right the ground, Rackner relied heavily on ers are caring for, she says. “Pain plus sidebar of an individual’s Facebook social media, especially blogs and vid- isolation equals suffering. Even if you page. “You pay per click on the ad, eos. “I’ve been amazed at the results,” can’t go out, [with social media] you’re which then redirects the viewer to the she says. “Last night I posted a little not alone, and that’s hugely, hugely main Chelsea Senior Living Web site,” video. This morning it is No. 1 out of 3 helpful for caregivers and the people says Kranz. “I went with a very low- million.” She thinks videos are par- for whom they care.” budget plan, just to see initially what ticularly effective because she believes the response is.” the country is moving toward being a Benefits To Staff Sherman advertises on Facebook video-based society. Staff at far-flung facilities have some- thing in common—the challenges and rewards of caring for people who are elderly or have disabilities. Social net- REVAMP POLICIES, TRAINING P roviders may rely on existing the appropriate use of social media,” “Frankly, if you haven’t updated privacy policies and related she says, “and then we made that part [your policies] in the last three years, training programs to protect of our employment policy.” you should conduct a review,” Purtell them in the Web 2.0 age, but experts A number of news stories, some that says. “Much privacy and confidential- say they may not go far enough. went national, have featured front-line ity training was designed long before “One of the challenges we faced staff taking photos of residents and everyone carried a cell phone that [was] our staff who are from the mil- posting them on their social network- doubles as a camera and everyone was lennium generation, the younger staff, ing pages, says attorney Purtell. “I had on Facebook, Twitter, etc. You would they have their cell phones with them a client that got wind that one of the be foolish to try to tell your employees all the time,” says Vicki Loucks, vice staff members had snapped a photo ‘Don’t use social media;’ rather, you president of quality services for Red- with a camera phone. The resident need to adjust your message along the stone Highlands Senior Living Com- had food on her face, and [the staff lines of, ‘Here’s something impor- munities, a Pittsburgh-area continuing member] posted it with ‘Aren’t I a tant: the same restrictions that we’ve care retirement community. “They good feeder?’” as the caption. “We instilled in you [regarding resident would take photos of residents and put don’t want this to continue. We’re privacy] apply on the Internet.” them on their Facebook pages. They asking all providers to become more Consider specific policies to address didn’t mean that in a negative way; [so- versed as to these risks and to enhance hand-held devices. “It’s not unreason- cial media is] what they do with their privacy training to incorporate present able to indicate that unless there’s a lives. So we had to educate our staff on realities,” says Purtell. specific reason and specific authoriza- 34 Provider March 2010
  11. 11. working could provide them the night. You have a skeleton with a community from staff over the holidays. Some- which they could learn and one falls. What’s the procedure receive support. to follow? That answer could “Certain questions that be on your social network. may come up in one assisted The staff member could search care facility are probably on ‘fallen patient’ and it would common in a lot of them, so pull up what to do with a fallen social networking would be patient and a list of people who a very good fit in these kinds should be contacted with not of facilities,” says Testa. “It only their cell phone number may be more efficient to but also their chat address, and communicate electronic- staff could have an electronic ally than it would be via group discussion about the telephone.” situation.” Another use for social That may be in the future media in long term care Some providers use social media as a tool for keeping family for most long term care facili- would be to set up a private members engaged and informed. ties, but “the nice thing about social network—one to the future is that it’s constantly which only staff have access. One way all the nurses’ stations. You could post being shaped by the people of the it could be used is as a “central deposi- that,” and key staff members could present,” says Cruickshank. “The more tory,” says Testa. “Say there’s some type review it and add suggestions, video of interesting question is: What do long of procedural list, anything the staff correct procedures could be posted to term care companies want the future would have to turn to in paper form. It it, and the facility could thereby de- of social media to be? Let’s go from can be put into [a private] social media velop something much more compre- there.” context. Let’s say there’s a list of proce- hensive than the original list. dures to follow when an injury occurs, Social media could be valuable for Kathleen Lourde is a freelance writer based and it’s kept in a three-ring binder at quality care, he says. “It’s the middle of in Dacoma, Okla. tion, no one should be carrying a phone personal devices are never to be used posting it online would be a violation in their pocket at work,” says Purtell. to record images of residents. If the of privacy. “Also, you’re paying them to work, not provider needs a photo of a resident for Make clear what the conse- to text their friends.” the purpose of care or training, only quences are for failing to abide by the Not having a good policy that authorized people using equipment policy. includes social media, or not thor- specified in the policy should take the Train all staff, including tem- oughly training staff on it so that the photo. porary staff and volunteers, on the above-mentioned violations occur, Make clear that photos of residents policy. could result in criminal or civil liability, taken by authorized individuals are the Cruickshank’s firm has developed violate the Health Insurance Portabil- property of the facility or company and a social media policy that would ity and Accountability Act of 1996, and that distributing them without written be useful to a company looking to may constitute caregiver misconduct, authorization is prohibited. develop its own or incorporate ele- according to guidelines issued by Wis- State where in the facility, and ments of one into its existing policies. consin’s Department of Health. under what circumstances, personal cell Cruickshank says he would be happy These guidelines recommend that phones and other personal devices can to provide the sample policy at no providers’ policies include the follow- be used, such as on breaks or outside. charge to Provider’s readers. To obtain ing elements: Tell residents, family members, a copy, call Cruickshank at (281) 833- Specify that cell phones, personal and visitors about privacy issues and 2200 or e-mail him at jcruickshank@ digital assistants, cameras, and other that taking a photo of the resident and Provider March 2010 35