Striving Toward Nurse Safety

Striving Toward Nurse Safety

How evolving the culture and fixing the superhuman mindset can improve the lives of nurses and their patients.

Nursing is consistently voted the nation’s most trusted profession – and yet, it can be one of the nation’s most ‘at-risk’ professions as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing has the highest rate of nonfatal occupational injuries.

Dr. Danielle Ofri, the author of a recent op-ed in the New York Times, blames the culture of self-sacrifice encouraged by the healthcare industry. She writes that despite the detrimental experiences thrown a healthcare provider’s way, “an overwhelming majority do the right thing for their patients, even at a high personal cost.” Ofri explains that the code of ethics healthcare workers keep drives them to out-stretch themselves, rather than to complain, or better yet, ask for help.

Chris Caulfield, our co-founder, and Chief Nursing Officer, weighed in on his time working bedside. “Unsafe environments tend to be the norm – they happen on every shift. It should be unacceptable – but that’s the culture nurses come to accept.”

In honor of National Safety Month, we’d like to shine a light on the dangers nursing professionals grapple with every shift – in the hopes that at most, the culture of self-sacrifice changes, and at the very least, nurses can be more mindful of their health as their care for the health of others.

Injury on the Job

Nurses who assist in lifting or re-positioning patients often endure repetitive back pain injuries. Caulfield noted that even when facilities have no-lift policies in place, nurses will be asked to forego policy in the interest of time. “As a male nurse, especially, I was asked to lift patients and heavy objects, even when it was unsafe to do so.”

Needle sticks also are a regular threat to nurses – according to the CDC, an average of 385,000 sharps-related injuries occurs among healthcare workers. This puts nurses at-risk of several diseases, namely Hepatitis B, C, and HIV.

Accidents do happen, but Chris posits that some of these injuries can be avoided. “In the past, I worked at facilities that had no-lift policies, and others that used safer, retractable needles. The only barrier for each of those is price. The price of time saved by rushing and lifting a patient, and the higher price of better, more-advanced needles.”
In cases where the administration doesn’t spring for safer policies and safer equipment, nurses pay the price.

Violence against nurses

While healthcare workers make up only 9% of the workforce, studies indicate that there are nearly as many violent injuries in the healthcare industry as there are in all other industries combined. And the number of violent injuries will only continue to skyrocket as time has gone on; over the past decade, there has been a 110% spike in the rate of violent incidents reported against healthcare workers.

Incidents are incredibly common for nurses who care for patients with dementia. 76% of nurses surveyed in one study noted that they had experienced physical or verbal abuse in the last 12 months. But it’s not something always reported, dealt with, or taken seriously.

Some measures are being taken by individual facilities; hospitals will host self-defense classes or training exercises that walk nurses through specific violent scenarios, which is a start, but until there are nationwide safety standards, violence against nurses will be an inevitable reality.

Burnout

Ask any nurse, and they will tell you that stress is par for the course, caused by a stressful work environment in general, and exacerbated by inadequate staffing levels.

In a 2016 study, 92% of nurses surveyed reported moderate to very high levels of stress. And that stress carries over into the rest of their lives. The same study also found that 78% of nurses reported sleeping less than 8 hours a night, 69% did not exercise regularly, and 22% of nurses’ relationship with alcohol would be characterized as binge drinking.

This chronic stress and lack of self-care all contribute to nurse burnout – an occupational phenomenon the World Health Organization characterizes as “feelings of energy depletion,” “increased mental distance from one’s job,” and “reduced professional efficacy.”

When nurses sacrifice their own well-being, it not only impacts their own health but their ability to provide the best care to the very patients they are aiming to protect. It can also be the catalyst for nurses leaving the field – which will only exacerbate the severe nurse staffing shortage.

So – what’s the solution to an environment where injury, abuse, and burnout are the norm?

For our part, IntelyCare is trying to improve the nursing experience. We allow nurses to choose their own schedule and take control of their lives. We offer a care team ready to advocate on their behalf, and we are a company co-founded by a nurse who understands what it’s like to be on the front lines of patient care. While we hope that our ability to fill the gaps in care will reduce stress on facility floors, we know that our efforts won’t even remotely come close to solving a pervasive, industry-wide issue.

Associate professor Linsey Steege, who studies the health and safety of nursing professionals, sums up the “supernurse” phenomenon perfectly: “That need and culture to be super creates a stigma around asking for help. It creates a stigma around showing signs of weakness and it creates, in some ways, some internal cultures within nursing that you’re not a real nurse if you haven’t worked 12 hours without peeing or taking a break, or if you haven’t worked five shifts in a row.”

Something has got to give – namely eradicating the mindset of self-sacrifice. This mindset that makes nurses so admirable is also the one that is their downfall. If nurses can start recognizing dangerous situations and abuse and advocate for themselves, that’s a great place to start. But ultimately, we also need a shift in the nursing culture.

As healthcare continues to evolve as a result of technological innovation and government policy, let’s hope that these shifts are made not only in the interest of saving money, simplifying and expediting administrative processes, or winning awards, but also a shift in culture in the interest of the people on the front lines taking care of us and the ones we love.

 

IntelyCare was created by nurses, for nurses. We’re here to take care of those who take care of everyone else; our staffing solution gives nurses the opportunity for a better, more flexible schedule to help reduce nurse stress. At IntelyCare, we’re driven to offer nurses and CNAs healthcare’s best working experience. Apply today.

Why Skilled Nursing Facilities Love IntelyCare’s Book Me Feature

Why Skilled Nursing Facilities Love IntelyCare’s Book Me Feature

Finding the right nursing professional for your skilled nursing facility’s shifts can be tough. So, when you connect with a nursing professional who shows up to work your per-diem shift and they are the perfect fit, it’s only natural to want to bring them back next time you need to fill a shift.

Well, lucky for you, IntelyCare’s got your back.

With our super simple Book Me feature, you can hand pick those nursing professionals you wish to continue staffing from our network of IntelyPros!

What is Book Me?

Our Book Me feature gives you the flexibility to choose who will staff your needs making it easier than ever to control the credentials and quality of care you want in your per-diem workers.

It’s so important to have a positive and happy work environment, especially given the stressful nature of nursing. So, if you and your staff love working with one of our IntelyPros and you have an ongoing staffing need, Book Me allows you to book them for multiple shifts at a time. Who knows – you may like the IntelyPro so much you might decide to hire them!

Why Schedulers and Directors of Nursing use Book Me:

  • Consistency: When you book a preferred IntelyPro through our Book Me feature, you provide consistency to your patients and your staff. Book Me also provides the opportunity to build relationships between your staff and patients, which we know is integral to quality care; a 2017 study by the Council of Accountable Physician Practices found that patients believe that positive patient-provider relationships is the key element of quality healthcare.
  • Confidence: Feel confident that you have the right person on the floor. Hand-pick your favorite IntelyPros who meet the exact credentials and experience your facility needs.
  • Comfort: Rest Easy. Book Me lets you book your IntelyPros in advance, so you can ditch the worrying about whether your shift will get filled or not.

Whether it’s in response to the nurse staffing shortage, to cover for your staff on vacation, or to fill the gaps in between hires, Book Me is the perfect tool to augment your nursing staff.

Want to learn more about the Book Me feature? Download our infographic here.

Does your facility need help with your staffing needs? Request a demo with a member of our sales team for a walk-through of our intelligent solution.

IntelyCare Celebrates National Skilled Nursing Care Week!

IntelyCare Celebrates National Skilled Nursing Care Week!

Happy National Skilled Nursing Care Week!

National Skilled Nursing Care Week is sponsored by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) to recognize the challenging, important work that every team member of a skilled nursing facility does day in and day out.

This year’s National Skilled Nursing Care Week (NSNCW) theme is “Live Soulfully” – this week, we celebrate how skilled nursing facilities like yours help our most vulnerable populations continue to live happy, healthy lives. Your residents’ lives don’t simply move on to the next chapter once they come to your facility – they flourish. You ensure that they continue to live soulfully through activities like gardening, cooking and eating good food, singing to music, encouraging them to express themselves through art, reading and discussing good books, but among all that, you make sure they feel cared for, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

All week long, many of you have told us about the awesome ways you have chosen to celebrate your residents and staff – and we’re so happy to hear you have been embracing the theme of living well. As National Skilled Nursing Week comes to a close, we want to make sure we share a heartfelt thank you to you for all you do.

Thank you to the schedulers for juggling schedules to keep your shifts safely staffed.

Thank you to administrators for balancing everything from patient care to food vendor decisions.

Thank you to directors of nursing for ensuring safe, diligent, above and beyond patient care.

Thank you to the secretaries who greet every visitor with a smile.

Thank you to the accountants for balancing the books.

Thank you to the maintenance employees, custodians, and groundskeepers that keep the lights working, halls clean, and lawns trimmed.

Thank you to the activity coordinators for sparking joy and keeping spirits high.

Thank you to physical and occupational therapists that help residents gain back their independence.

Thank you to food service workers that keeps plates and stomachs full, and the dieticians that keep residents eating well.

And thank you to volunteers for giving up your free hours to make a difference.

No matter your role, your impact is a substantial one.

Thank you for making sure that our senior and disabled communities continue to live enjoyable and meaningful lives. We know the job you do is one of the hardest out there and can sometimes feel like a thankless endeavor. We want you to know that your dedication to your residents and your staff does not go unnoticed; we hear it in your voices on every call, and we see it first hand on every visit. While you take time this week to acknowledge your staff and your residents, make sure to take some time to celebrate yourself, too.

Thanks for all you do!

 

Does your facility need help with your staffing needs? Request a demo with a member of our sales team for a walk-through of our intelligent solution.

Meet IntelyCare’s Nurses

IntelyCare was built by nurses, for nurses. We know, we say that a lot, but we think it’s an important distinction.

We care deeply about the happiness, safety, and overall well-being of our nursing professionals (IntelyPros), and the quality and level of training each of them. To achieve that, we believe it’s essential to have nurses on our team that both understand what it’s like to work in a skilled nursing facility, and more importantly, understand how hard it is to be a nurse. So, we wanted to introduce you to two of the most integral members of our team, Chris and Janiene, who check both of those boxes.

Chris, our Co-Founder and Chief Nursing Officer, brings a diverse nursing background and an extensive tenure educating his fellow nurses. He and our co-founder, Ike Nnah, were inspired to create IntelyCare after they witnessed unsafe, inefficient staffing practices that put both nurses and patients at risk.  From design and development of the app to the continued education and training of nurses, Chris has a hand in almost every facet of the business. He also works to build personal relationships and meaningful interactions with our IntelyPros.

Our Quality Assurance Education Nurse Manager, Janiene, is also a Registered Nurse. She works both with our partner facilities and with our nurses to uphold the quality of care and clinical competence of our team. As a nurse with agency experience, Janiene plays the vital role of both advocate and educator for our nursing professionals.

Our internal nursing team is vital to what we do – they are committed to establishing a culture of IntelyPro excellence, which includes making sure our IntelyPros are fully prepared to work when they step into their first facility, having their back if there’s ever an issue, and making sure they have all the tools necessary to deliver the best possible care to their patients.

We could not think of two better people to work with our nurses on a daily basis. So, we’d like you to get to know them as well as we do. Below are excerpts from our two spotlight blogs on Janiene and Chris.

An excerpt from Janiene’s spotlight:

“I’ve always loved being there for people, but what I really fell in love with was patient care. I saw how my presence and personal touch affected my patients. I found that I had a knack for bringing peace to my patients and I could easily put them at ease when they became anxious about a procedure or diagnosis. I made them feel comfortable and cared for and I advocated for their needs. I also had a way with ‘difficult’ patients’. I soon realized that it was my ‘way’ with my patients that made them feel cared for.

Nursing is so much more than ‘a good paying job’. You need to have compassion, empathy, and be willing to go the extra mile for your patient.

Those are the qualities of a truly good, dedicated nurse.”

Read the rest of Janiene’s spotlight here. 

An excerpt from Chris’s spotlight:

“I’m consistently amazed and proud of our IntelyCare Nurses & Nursing Assistants. Nursing is not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, but our nursing professionals continue to complete shifts while providing amazing care to patients at our facilities. I really do love getting to come into work every day knowing that we are helping Schedulers safely staff their facilities, Directors of Nursing get the coverage they need on each floor, and Administrators meet their required staffing ratios.

As if that isn’t cool enough, we are helping nurses take charge of their lives. Now, nurses have the flexibility to be in complete control of their schedules. Ultimately, we are also helping patients receive better, more compassionate, quality care because our nurses don’t suffer from as much burn out.”

Read the rest of Chris’s spotlight here.

We have been celebrating nurses all week long! You can read our thank you to nurses here.

IntelyCare was created by nurses, for nurses. We’re here to take care of those who take care of everyone else; our staffing solution gives nurses the opportunity for a better, more flexible schedule to help reduce nurse stress. At IntelyCare, we’re driven to offer nurses and CNAs healthcare’s best working experience. Apply today.

IntelyCare Spotlight: Janiene Morris, RN, WCC

IntelyCare Spotlights Janiene Morris, our resident nurse, and Quality Assurance Education Nurse Manager.

In her role as Quality Assurance Education Nurse Manager, Janiene works with both facilities and nurses to uphold the quality of care and clinical competence of our team. As a registered nurse with agency experience, Janiene plays a unique role as an advocate and educator for nurses. We are lucky to have her on our team, and we hope you’ll enjoy getting to know a bit more about her. 

Janiene, what inspired you to become a nurse?

I originally became a nurse because I needed a career with security and hours outside a typical nine to five job so that I could be there for my two sons. Plus, I knew that becoming a nurse would give me the financial independence that I needed.

What is it about nursing that you most enjoy?

I’ve always loved being there for people, but what I really fell in love with was patient care. I saw how my presence and personal touch affected my patients. I found that I had a knack for bringing peace to my patients and I could easily put them at ease when they became anxious about a procedure or diagnosis. I made them feel comfortable and cared for and I advocated for their needs. I also had a way with ‘difficult’ patients’. I soon realized that it was my ‘way’ with my patients that made them feel cared for.

Nursing is so much more than ‘a good paying job’. You need to have compassion, empathy, and be willing to go the extra mile for your patient. Those are the qualities of a truly good, dedicated nurse.

Why do you love working with IntelyCare and with nurses?

I know that working for an agency has its challenges and I want to be there to provide support and education to our nurses, so they feel someone understands the challenges they face daily.

Based on your experience, how do you think IntelyCare improves the nursing experience?

Our Quality Assurance Team provides the nurses with a personal touch that they don’t get at your average agency. I can be an advocate for them when they need it, and I can be a resource if they’re seeking information.

I believe this personal touch can help them become better nurses; we all make mistakes, but we don’t always get the opportunity to learn from them, nor do we always have someone to reach out to us to talk about how the mistake could have been avoided or corrected. If one of our IntelyPros has a misstep, we can recognize where they took a wrong turn, we can reach out to them for some re-education, and through that process, help them to avoid making future mistakes.

IntelyCare also is there for our IntelyPros when they go above and beyond – we make sure to reach out to IntelyPros individually with praise from facilities so that they know they are valued. Nurses work hard, and they deserve to have someone rooting for them every step of the way.

How does your experience as a nurse inform the work you do here at IntelyCare?

Being a nurse is very helpful in my role because I have walked many miles in our nurses’ shoes. I also understand the terminology when speaking with nursing facilities, along with what is expected of nurses and nursing assistants. I can also empathize with both the nursing facilities and the nurses. This makes it easy for me to build a solid relationship built on trust with both.

Anything else you think our IPs would love to know about you or nursing?

My career goal is to become a nursing educator on the college level. I owe a great deal to those who taught me how to be a safe, compassionate, well-educated nurse and that has taken me very far in my 12 years of nursing. I would like to ‘pay it forward’ and teach nursing students before they get out into the field so that they too will be successful, competent, and compassionate nurses.

IntelyCare Spotlight: Chris Caulfield, RN, NP-C

Chris is a Co-Founder and the Chief Nursing Officer at IntelyCare. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role at IntelyCare, having held multiple roles in long term care nursing, nursing informatics, labor relations, case management, and as an urgent care nurse practitioner. In his free time, Chris and his wife enjoy volunteering at the National Marine Life Center helping care for and rehabilitate baby seals and stranded sea turtles on the shores of Cape Cod.

Chris, why did you decide to become a nurse?

I would say my interest in the medical field began watching Trauma Life in the ER as a kid! So, when I went to college, I majored in Biology with the intention of going to medical school, but after doing some international travel, I realized that med school wouldn’t allow me the freedom I was looking for.

I started talking to some nurses in my network and learned that many states were starting to give Nurse Practitioners a full scope of practice. I was sold. I enrolled in a local community college where I became a registered nurse and then continued on to earn my Nurse Practitioner Certification.

What is it about being a nurse that you most enjoy?

I personally like the challenge of juggling multiple priorities of patient care. Nurses deal with some serious, heavy stuff on a daily basis, so you have to put your head down and use all the knowledge at your disposal to get the work done, all while delivering compassionate patient care. Patients are what it’s all about – so making sure you can help every patient feel like the most valued, important person on the floor is a great feeling.

Do you remember the moment you realized that nurses and the post-acute field, in general, needed a solution like IntelyCare? What was it like?

There were hundreds of times that I or a fellow nurse was stuck doing a mandatory double shift. While it’s illegal in the state of Massachusetts to force nurses to stay, there was no option to go home – you can’t just abandon your patients. So, you’re kind of stuck.

As a nurse union leader, I talked with our facility’s scheduler and other stakeholders to try to come up with solutions – we even considered nurse staffing agencies. Nursing professionals are required to give their agency their availability for at least two months in advance. But many of the nurses work for multiple agencies and give the same availability to everyone. So, what happens is that the nurse staffing agencies that existed at the time weren’t able to cover last minute call-outs because they didn’t actually have the available workers on such short notice. So, they were only able to cover a small amount of our need. I remember thinking ‘wow what if there was a way to pick up a shift on-demand or a way to cut out the middleman who has to call and email everyone for their availability.’

That’s when I met Ike!

We were working together at a hospital – he was implementing an EMR system, and I was helping to customize that technology for nurses. We were both thinking of starting our own healthcare companies, but as we began to discuss their staffing inefficiencies of the hospital we worked in, we came to realize that we shared a common vision for a better, more efficient way things could be done.

Those experiences allowed me to understand the extent of demand that existed, and the lack of solutions available to meet it. So we decided to take the plunge and start IntelyCare.

Why do you love working with IntelyCare and with nurses?

I’m consistently amazed and proud of our IntelyCare Nurses & Nursing Assistants. Nursing is not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination, but our nursing professionals continue to complete shifts while providing amazing care to patients at our facilities. I really do love getting to come into work every day knowing that we are helping Schedulers safely staff their facilities, Directors of Nursing get the coverage they need on each floor, and Administrators meet their required staffing ratios. As if that isn’t cool enough, we are helping nurses take charge of their lives. Now, nurses have the flexibility to be in complete control of their schedules. Ultimately, we are also helping patients receive better, more compassionate, quality care because our nurses don’t suffer from as much burnout.

How do you think your experience as a nurse informs the work you do here at IntelyCare?

Like every nurse, I’ve been in many situations where I was overworked and underpaid. That’s why it’s our goal to make sure that every nurse has a great quality of life and that they are adequately compensated for the amazing job they do.

In the nursing profession, there is so much to know and so little time to learn it. That’s why I’m also a firm believer and champion of continuing education. Right now, my team and I are focused on building out modules that zero in on the specifics that will help nurses increase their individual knowledge and deliver better care in the long-term care environment.

Based on my own experience with distance learning, it’s been my mission to implement these supplemental education courses that engage our IntelyPros and allow them to strive to be the best nurses they can be.

Chris has spoken at length about the impact of the nurse staffing shortage on nurses and the long-term care climate at large, with features in Daily Nurse, Your Next Shift Podcast, and the Nurse Keith Podcast.