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Author Archives: Bryan Baird

Making a Case for Cameras in Nursing Homes

 Earlier this year, we discussed the debate over the Removal of a Web Cam from a nursing home patient which caused some friction among the patient care staff and patients’ loved ones. Although the camera was placed in his room for security purposes, it was removed without consent by the nursing staff. More states are starting to draft legislature to permit cameras but it is still in the beginning stages. Still, the controversy remains: Are cameras going to be allowed in all nursing home rooms? Are family members going to rest assured knowing their loved ones are properly taken care of? Because of the nature of the job and the risks involved, obtaining Nursing Home Professional Liability Insurance is crucial to your nursing home facility. While we work toward passing the bill, here are three reasons why nursing home facilities could benefit from cameras: Neglect & Abuse- According to the Department of Public Health, they receive an estimated 19,000 calls a year regarding suspected abuse or neglect and another 5,000 complaints. The sheer numbers are disheartening enough to make any child or parent worry. Allowing exposed cameras to be placed in willing patient’s rooms can defer this type of treatment. If something were to happen, it would likely be documented and the patient caretaker would be held liable. Consent- Although many nursing staff personnel have voiced concern over privacy issues, the intent of the surveillance is not to be hidden. For example, in Texas, the law requires a sign notifying that the camera is rolling and the nursing home can request to have the camera placed in plain view. What’s more, the law requires written consent from a roommate if applicable. This way, any footage recorded can be used in civil or criminal courts as evidence. Digital Age- Although nursing homes clearly are intended for an older generation, the children of these patients are used to having a digitally based lifestyle. It is not uncommon for surveillance to be recorded in a number of public places. Having this form of surveillance on their parents and loved ones would provide a peace of mind for them, as well. At DigniCARE, we specialize in nursing home insurance and risk management. We understand the inherent liabilities that come with the industry and have created custom solutions in order to fit your needs and…
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How Background Checks Improve Patient Care

Sending loved ones to a nursing home is a big deal, especially since their safety and care becomes the responsibility of a stranger. Although undoubtedly qualified, there are still some basic issues that are causes for concern. According to the Office of Inspector General (OIG), around 22% of Medicare beneficiaries experienced preventable injuries in nursing homes. Unfortunately, these types of negligent claims are common against nursing homes and their caregivers. However, with DigniCare Nursing Home Insurance, your reputation and the liabilities created in this unique environment are protected. In order to avoid such unfortunate circumstances, it is vital that nursing homes and nursing facilities adhere to specific regulations. By performing background checks and maintaining them frequently, unqualified or less than optimal candidates will not be holding these caretaker positions.  Since there are hundreds of types of these inspections, here are some levels of background checks that could benefit your facility and what they cover: Instant- The most basic form of a background check is instantaneous and simply verifies the employee name matches with the social security number he or she provided, correct date of birth, and address to ensure no discrepancies arise with identity. Although this option seems attractive as it is inexpensive and quick, bear in mind it only provides surface level information. Therefore, records indicating more severe crimes won’t show here. Routine Employment Check/Statewide Search- This covers criminal, civil, credit, and driving records. It also verifies education, employment, and licensure. This in depth screening is a bit more thorough and takes approximately 48 hours to complete. FBI- The most extensive background check listed, this screening shows any and all federal criminal record as well as complete residency for the past 7 years. These are just a few ways your nursing home can be proactive in hiring the best, well qualified staff. At DigniCARE, we understand the unique liabilities that come with caring for others. Our assisted living insurance program and Risk Management Tips offer solutions and protection against these liabilities to secure your business. To discover more, contact us today at (855) 883-6306.

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5 Key Indicators Your Nursing Home May Be Under-Insured

You probably see them all the time; those car and home insurance commercials that make you question if you have enough insurance, or even if you have too much insurance. It’s important to realize though, that this doesn’t just occur when purchasing personal insurance lines, these types of issues can come up with business insurance as well, which is why it’s vital to choose the right insurance company when it comes to understanding how to Financially Protect Your Assisted Living Facility or Nursing Home. So, what 5 key factors should you collaborate with your Nursing Home Insurance Company about to ensure your facility is not underinsured? Here’s a basic breakdown. Number of Employees Has your employee base grown? If so, it’s important to realize that almost every state now requires Workers’ Compensation coverage for any business that has 1 or more employees; this includes caregivers, officers, administrators, even your receptionist. Employment Practices Liability is another important coverage to be aware of. Location Property insurance is a key coverage that all assisted living and nursing homes need. Do you have locations in areas with inclement weather? This is something you will need to take into consideration. Equipment Needs Depending on the size of your facility and your equipment needs, you may be paying more for equipment than a smaller nursing home; this is especially true if you have the “latest and greatest” in health care equipment, as this will definitely require the right amount of insurance coverage. Services Is your nursing home primarily for rehabilitation purposes? Or does it include live-in features and/or a memory care center? Different services create unique risks; presenting liabilities for both the standard caregiver and the facility as a whole. Business Auto Many retirement-center-style nursing homes today provide transportation for its residents, typically with provisions for how far they will travel to drop-off and pick-up. No matter what the distance, however, accidents are always a risk you face when on the road, and even if personal vehicles are being used, your nursing home can and will be held liable for a resident’s injury if you are in an accident while using the vehicle for company purposes. At DigniCARE, we understand the unique risks faced by those who work in Assisted Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, Continuing Care Retirement Centers, and Independent Living Facilities. We will work closely…
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Can Boosting Caregiver Morale Improve Nursing Home Care?

Improving employee engagement and moral can go a long way in the nursing home industry, not just for employee retention but for minimizing risk and liabilities as well. Nursing and caregiving is a service sector unlike many others because it requires a level of commitment to unparalleled quality of customer, or rather patient, service. In nursing, demeanor has a direct effect on the patient. For many caregivers, having good intentions and a kindly demeanor is second nature, but faced with long shifts, quick turn around times, and little downtime, it is not uncommon for caregivers to quickly become overworked, overwhelmed and burt out. Unfortunately, this can directly affect a caregivers moral, and ultimately their work performance. When caregiver morale slips, the patients and their families are often the ones who suffer most. Furthermore, To improve caregiver engagement, nursing home managers and facility leaders can employ a number of different tactics. Here are a few of the most common strategies: Personal Check-Ins: Many experts report that showing an interest in the lives and overall wellbeing of staff members, in addition to their work performance, goes a long way in boosting morale. When employees feel that an employer cares about their physical, emotional, social and financial well-being, they feel appreciated and valued. This can create an even deeper connection and investment in their work. Team-Building: Countless studies chow that individuals who feel that they are part of a team often feel more supported and valued in their workplace. Whether it is working towards common goals or establishing a team tradition, team-building helps boost employee’s interpersonal relationships and overall job satisfaction. Workplace Communication: One major factor that contributes to unhappiness and disengagement among caregivers is poor communication and organization. Any employee is less likely to remain engaged and invested in a job if they feel excluded or left in the dark about company developments or changes in the workplace. Strong communication will also help ensure that everyone understand the goals, expectations and their duties. Keeping employees informed will also prevent gossip and misinformation from surfacing and putting a damper on employee outlook. Achievement Acknowledgement: Performance standards exist in caregiving for a reason, to ensure that every patient receives quality care, but some employees go above and beyond those expectations. Those who do deserve recognition for their efforts. Publicly recognizing when a workers take…
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Nursing Home Chain Faces Lawsuit For Overbilling

The U.S. Justice Department recently announced that they will be stepping into a long-running lawsuit against one of the nation’s largest nursing-home chains, HCR ManorCare, which operates some 280 skilled nursing facilities across 30 states. ManorCare has been accused of intentional widespread Medicare over-billing for procedures and treatment that was both unnecessary and in some cases harmful to the patients in their care. While the investigation has been on-going since the initial accusations against the company were filed by a northern Virginia occupational therapist in 2009, the Federal government just recently decided to take control of the whistleblower lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA. The lawsuit was initially filed under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States when they have knowledge that the government is being defrauded. After the claim is filed by a private citizen, the government can then investigate and decide whether it wants to take over the case. In cases where the government interventions the original filing party is entitled to collect anywhere from to 15 to 25 percent of any money recovered through the government’s pursuit of the case. The lawsuit alleges that ManorCare routinely pressured administrators of its nursing homes, assisted living and rehab facilities to meet financial targets by billing for unnecessary care, which sometimes put frail, dying patients through grueling rehab schedules. According to the lawsuit, in 2006 ManorCare billed Medicare at the top reimbursement rate for 39 percent of its patients, yet by 2009 the top reimbursement rates had doubled to 80 percent. The increase was one of many red-flags investigations into the company’s billing practices have already uncovered. According to reports, investigators believe that Medicare paid more than $6 billion to ManorCare between January 2006 to May 2012; how much of that was unfounded has yet to be determined. In recent years, nursing homes and other assisted living facilities have seen an increase in lawsuits. At DigniCare, we understand that senior living care is more than a business; the senior living industry consists of facilities, communities, and caregivers whose mission is to provide many different types of services and care and to provide individuals with a quality, dignified life. Please contact us today at (855) 883-6306 for more information about our policies and risk management programs.

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Uproar Caused Over Removal of Web Cam from Disabled Nursing Home Resident

Given the statistics out there for the public on nursing home abuse, it’s only natural that the families and loved ones of nursing home residents would want as much access to them as possible. Unfortunately, there have been numerous cases of neglect that have made headlines, in which the residents’ loved ones never discovered. So what is a concerned family member to do? These findings have led many individuals to look at Web Cams, or “Nanny Cams” as a solution. Is this legal though? In 4 states throughout the U.S. there are rules and laws prohibiting the allowance of private video recording or surveillance in nursing homes. This is not the case in Pennsylvania yet though, and one Philadelphia nursing home recently faced a storm of controversy when they removed the computer and webcam from the private room of a resident with cerebral palsy. The resident, Stuart Sanderson, relied on the device to communicate privately with family members. Although the webcam was eventually returned to Sanderson, the action in itself caused quite the uproar in their community. The facility itself was at a crossroads when it came to privacy concerns and policies. While they are now drafting a policy and will support residents’ rights to cameras as long as they notify staff about their use, this issue is not isolated; it is happening across the country. The concern for nursing homes is privacy rights; depending on the state, nanny cams and webcams can create issues and nursing home facilitators can get in trouble for recording employees without their consent. Secondly, nursing home facilities would need consent of patients to be recorded; so if a nanny cam exists, roommates or any other nursing home resident who would visit the room would need to know of its presence. If the family members or loved ones of your nursing home residents truly have concerns about neglect or abuse, the best thing for them to do is speak to management, as management could likely get to the bottom of a situation without the use of hidden cameras. It’s also vital for your facility to have the appropriate Nursing Home Liability Insurance policy in place to financially protect the property and your actions. At DignCARE, we understand that you are in the business of caring for others. This is why our Nursing Home Insurance Policies reach beyond financial protection…
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Improving Nursing Homes by Addressing Continuing Problems

There are many opinions about what the biggest problems facing nursing homes today are. For example, according to a recent NPR report, almost 300,000 nursing home residents are currently receiving antipsychotic drugs,  and another report indicated that antibiotics were also being overused, leading many to believe that the true problem facing nursing homes is that residents are overmedicated. To not only help improve the care of your residents but to also reduce your Nursing Home Liability Risks, what continuing problems should you be aware of? Many nursing care facilities are for-profit businesses, and according to a report from AdvanceWeb.com, these types of nursing homes historically have lower staffing ratios. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that for-profit facilities are consistently poorer performers nationally when compared to nonprofit facilities, such as centers for Medicare and Medicaid Advocacy. Perhaps due to understaffing, or perhaps because people are living longer and thus waiting longer to enter nursing homes, another common problem nursing homes have is that statistics show one in three people admitted to a nursing home die within a year, yet fewer than 15% receive hospice care. This seemingly poor level of care leads many elderly individuals or their loved ones to seek alternatives to nursing home or assisted living care, which could be putting seniors in even more harm than good. Overall, your nursing facility should be a place of residence that matches your residents’ individual choices, preferences, and freedom. Nursing home staff are encouraged to focus on more rehabilitative care than simply comfort care. At DignCARE, we understand that you are in the business of caring for others. This is why our Nursing Home Insurance Policies reach beyond financial protection and extend to offering Risk Management Tips and focus on the care and well-being of your residents. For more information about our products and services, please contact us today at (855) 883-6306.

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Finding Quiet Alternatives to Nursing Home Alarms

A recent Boston Globe article raised an interesting question; are nursing home bed and chair alarms doing more harm than good? While some may see them as a disruptive nuisance often the cause of false alarms, just the thought of accidentally setting one off keeps many nursing home residents in bed or in their wheelchair despite being uncomfortable or needing to use the restroom. This whole situation creates a vicious circle that could certainly expose your nursing home or assisted living facility to Senior Living Facility Risks. At one nursing home, Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale, MA, they’ve done away with alarms that had typically been attached to the beds and wheelchairs of those residents who were at risk of falling. These pressure-sensitive alarms have been used since physical restraints were banned in the 1990’s. Over the past few years, nursing home professionals have asked themselves if alarms really do keep residents safer. At Hebrew, they don’t believe so. Since fully eliminating alarm systems last year, Hebrew Rehab has not seen an increase in falls or serious injuries, according to chief nursing officer Tammy Retalic. She also pointed out that as residents free themselves from these limiting alarms, they are actually walking more, and eating and dressing without assistance. Director of social and health policy research at HSL’s Institute for Ageing Research, an affiliate of Harvard Medical Schools, states that this movement in eliminating restrictive alarm devices is meant to give nursing home residents their dignity and independence in terms of functions in their lives. Pioneer Network, a consortium of geriatric professionals that have spearheaded a culture change in nursing homes, point out that unless a staff member is nearby, a nursing home resident is on the floor by the time help arrives, with or without an alarm. This means, according to Pioneer Network executive director Lynda Crandall, that alarms may be giving elderly residents a false sense of security. There is still, of course, a need for nursing home staff to be proactive in their care for residents, as no matter what a resident should never be left for a long period of time if they have in fact fallen. This means that instead of poking their heads in a room to make sure residents are okay, nurses and aides should be encourages to pose a series of questions:…
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Is Antibiotic Overuse Causing Nursing Home Illnesses?

Antibiotic overuse in nursing homes is not a new topic. For example, in 2013 MEDPAGE TODAY reported that approximately 1/5th of clinicians who worked at a long-term care facility prescribed most of the antibiotics given to their elderly residents, and about half of those prescriptions were for longer than a week.  Antibiotic overuse in nursing homes seems to be a problem that still remains unresolved, potentially creating illnesses amongst residents and therefore increasing Nursing Home Insurance Liability Risks. Why is antibiotic overuse a problem? As reported by healthcare experts in USA Today, antibiotics weaken immune systems, which is particularly dangerous for senior citizens who may already have compromised immune systems. Bacteria evolve when an individual’s immune system is suppressed, meaning they are exposed to dangerous conditions; potentially far more dangerous than the condition the antibiotic was being used to treat. According to the CDC, the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. diff) sickens approximately 500,000 Americans a year and is the most common health care-associated infection in the U.S. Opponents to this idea say that nursing home administrators are perhaps pointing the blame in the wrong direction, that the C. diff bacteria is not due to compromises immune systems, but perhaps to nursing home staff negligence. Whatever the case, it’s imperative that nursing home administrators do everything in their power to improve precautions and procedures to help prevent the spread of C. diff and other potentially harmful bacteria. At DigniCare, we understand the difficulties that come along with running a business but also focusing on the care and well-being of your residents and your staff. We offer comprehensive insurance programs including Assisted Living Insurance, Nursing Home Insurance, Independent Living Facility coverage, and insurance for Continuing Care Retirement Centers (CCRCS). We also offer a Senior Living Risk Management program. For more information, please contact us today at (855) 883-6306.

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How to Manage a Better Work Life Balance for Caregivers

As you are likely plenty aware of, the work demands caregivers face can often be high-stress, which can certainly carry over and contribute to stress at home as well. Unfortunately, nurses and caregivers too often let the demands of their work life take over, and don’t have the time or energy to focus on their personal well-being. This can create not only resentment, but also low productivity, less focus on workplace safety and low morale, thus increasing Nursing Home Employee Risks. Such high demands have many nursing home workers and staff at other assisted living facilities asking, “What can I do to manage my work/life balance?” As one contributing McKnight’s author points out, it’s not always as easy as just committing to being more present and engaged. A change must happen within the workplace, but too often caregivers don’t know how to initiate this change. Caregiving website familycaregiversonline.net offers many helpful tips for managing work/life balance in the industry. Below are just a few of the things nursing home staff may be able to do. Nursing home staff should be encouraged to speak with their supervisors about their workload. Supervisors should explain, clearly, what their tasks are for which they are accountable. Caregivers should always be specific about their needs and feel comfortable with asking if flexible hours are possible. Just as supervisors need to be clear about the business needs that must be met, caregivers need to be clear about what their personal needs are. The best way for a caregiver to approach the work/life balance subject with their supervisors is to offer suggestions that will help the caregiver do their job, and allow them to meet their non-work life demands, but also helps their facility’s bottom line. These are just a few of the ways caregivers can take a proactive approach in maintaining a good work/life balance. At DigniCare, we understand that running a nursing home is about so much more than simply managing a business; caregivers are the backbone of the senior living industry. Their care is just as important as the residents they serve. For more information about our insurance products and Nursing Home Risk Management strategies, please contact us today at (855) 883-6306.

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