Rave blog Post

Communication Solutions for Caregiving Organizations during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Emergency

Caregiving organizations are experiencing unique staffing challenges during the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency due to illnesses, parents with young children being unable to work because schools are closed, and clients cancelling services at short notice. Communication solutions can help overcome some of these challenges.

As the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency has developed, caregiving organizations have found it increasingly harder to cope. A lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has resulted in a disproportionate number of caregivers contracting the disease - the majority of whom are more susceptible to the symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19 because of their ethnicity.

The failure to provide adequate testing has resulted in caregivers self-quarantining after being in contact with an infected client despite not knowing whether they have the virus or not, while the closure of schools has led to an estimated decline in staff availability of 15%. Furthermore in addition to the short-notice non-availability of staff, there are also issues with short-term client cancellations.

Related Blog: 5 Best Practices for Addressing Staffing in Healthcare

The Issue of Client Cancellations for Caregiving Organizations

While the workloads for caregiving organizations should have increased due to hospitals discharging non-critical patients and postponing elective surgeries, this hasn't been the case in all areas. Some caregiving organizations are reporting a significant number of short notice cancellations due to families working from home and being able to care for vulnerable relatives.

It has also been the case that clients have cancelled appointments due to fears of catching the virus from their caregiver. Indeed, a recent survey conducted by the Home Care Association of America found nearly 90% of caregiving organizations had experienced short-notice cancellations because clients feared transmission of the disease. Other results from the survey include:

  • 78% reported a shortage of PPE (sanitizer, gloves, masks, etc.)
  • 51% reported staff shortages due to illnesses or self-quarantine
  • 63% reported staff shortages due to schools being closed
  • Only 3% of 1,204 respondents reported no impact

The Impact of Staff Shortages and Short Notice Cancellations

Staff shortages and short notice cancellations exacerbate the challenges of personnel management - especially at a time when caregiving organizations have an enhanced duty of care to protect employees from foreseeable risks to health and safety. However, while communication solutions might not be able to resolve the challenges of PPE shortages, they can help mitigate other challenges.

Consequently one of the most important considerations for caregiving organizations is keeping staff informed of confirmed infections among clients and colleagues. While it is possible to communicate this information via email, mass SMS notification systems are more practical due to the speed at which the virus travels and the higher-than-anticipated co-infection rate.  

Related Blog: How Emergency Preparedness Notification Tools Can Aid Patient  Family Communications

A further advantage of mass notification systems with database segmentation and SMS opt-in/opt-out capabilities is that clients and their families can also receive notifications relating to health and safety. There are many scenarios in which clients may not have the cognitive ability to remember to take precautions, whereas a timely SMS reminder might prevent them making a potentially fatal mistake.

How Does This Help Resolve the Challenges of Personnel Management?

In addition to supporting database segmentation and SMS opt-in/opt-out, some mass notification systems also have a geo-polling capability. This capability enables caregiving organizations to reduce the management overhead of filling vacant shifts by sending a message to relevant segments of the database in a question and answer format. For example:

  • Required for four nights: Staff with experience in caring for client suffering from Alzheimer's starting tonight.
    • A1) Can cover tonight only
    • A2) Can cover tonight and next three nights
    • A3) Not available tonight, but can cover next three nights

Message recipients reply by tapping the screen of their smartphones or keys on their mobile devices, and responses are recorded on the organization's management portal. In order to avoid personnel continuing to reply once the vacant shifts are filled, the portal can automatically mark the message as closed unless the organization wants to receive a general update on staff availability.

Learn more about how geo-polling works, address communication challenges your organization is experiencing and receive helpful tips for overcoming unique staffing issues by clicking below. 

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Tara Gibson
Tara Gibson

Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12 education, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!

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