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.

IntelyCare Celebrates National Nurses Week 2019

IntelyCare Celebrates National Nurses Week 2019

Happy National Nurses Week!

In 1993, the American Nurses Association (ANA) declared May 6-12 as the national week to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. These dates have historical significance – the celebration ends on May 12th each year, which happens to be the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing.

Nightingale was born into a wealthy British family in the 19th century, and despite the lowly status of nurses at the time, she recognized the importance of caring for others and answered the call to become a nurse.

The status of nurses has been raised considerably since Nightingale’s time – in 2019, nurses were ranked the most trusted profession for the 17th year in a row.

This year, ANA hopes to continue to champion nurses and the work that they do – as it’s clear with recent headlines, there’s still a long way to go. The theme of Nurses Week is 4 Million Reasons to Celebrate – a nod to the over 4 million practicing nurses in the US. This is also a perfect time to thank a nurse for their hard work and dedication all year round.

We created IntelyCare because we knew we could simplify and improve staffing and that we could truly change the lives of nurses for the better.

But the truth is that we couldn’t do that without top-notch nursing professionals. So, we’d like to take this time to say thank you.

Thank you for the day shifts.

Thank you for the night shifts.

Thank you for every time you comforted a patient in need.

Thank you for every time you gave your all during a shift, even when no one else was watching.

Thank you for working holidays and weekends.

Thank you for all you do.

We’re truly grateful to have you on our team. Thanks for helping us change the landscape of nurse staffing, one shift at a time.

 

How are you planning to celebrate National Nurses Week?
Consider taking some time for self-care. Even the smallest acts of self-care can help reduce stress and prevent burnout. Not sure where to start? Here are some tips to become a happier, healthier you – and a better nurse!

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.

CMS’s new staffing standards are now in effect. What your facilities need to know.

CMS’s new staffing standards are now in effect. What your facilities need to know.

Last month, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced stricter standards for nursing home ratings, which includes smaller windows for staffing penalties and new ratings for short-term and long-term stays.

What you need to know

CMS will get tougher on all three metrics that inform star ratings; survey, quality, and staffing.

However, staffing ratios, in particular, seem to be at the heart of the CMS rating overhaul; starting this week, CMS will automatically hand out one-star staffing ratings to buildings that have four or more days in a quarter with no registered nurse on site, down from the current seven-day standard.

This is likely in response to the New York Times’ investigation this past summer that exposed skilled nursing facilities for inaccurate reporting of nurse coverage in their buildings.

What’s happened so far

Recent changes have made it more difficult to achieve above average ratings.

The American Health Care Association noted that 36% of skilled nursing facilities have already experienced a drop in their overall star ratings since the plan took effect last Wednesday. 33% of those facilities lost at least one star based on their staffing standards. (For comparison, only about 15% of facilities actually earned a star as a result of the changes.)

What does this mean for my facility?

Ultimately, this initiative will make it harder for your facility to earn an above average rating. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it just means that CMS is more serious than ever about making sure skilled nursing facilities operate to provide the highest level of quality care and that conditions are safe for both patient and caregiver.

With that said, your rating is still important, and you surely want to make sure it doesn’t drop.

So what can you do to maintain (or even improve) your rating?

In the words of CMS, staffing ratios aren’t a bad place to start if facilities are looking to improve quality. “Nurse staffing has the greatest impact on the quality of care nursing homes deliver, which is why CMS analyzed the relationship between staffing levels and outcomes,” the agency said in the statement that announced the new rules for the Five-Star Quality Rating System. “CMS found that as staffing levels increase, quality increases.”

Improving your staffing is no easy task, but luckily, you have a resource in us. If you’d like to have a conversation about how we can best suit your needs in light of these changes, let us know. We are here to help; we’d love to help tailor our services to meet your staffing needs.

 

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 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. Apply today to join the future of nursing.

Ensuring Safety and Quality in America’s Nursing Home: 5 Key Takeaways from CMS’s Five Part Plan

On April 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced some new initiatives as part of their ongoing mission to make sure nursing homes adhere to the highest level of quality and safety.

This comes in response to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office that criticized CMS for gaps in federal oversight of nursing home abuse investigations. The report from the government watchdog claims that CMS failed to adequately track nursing home abuse allegations in Oregon and put patients in the state at risk.

While the statement issued by Seema Verma, the current Administrator of CMS, did not address the GAO report, it is clear that the organization is serious about reviewing and improving their nursing home oversight processes in order to rectify some of the glaring issues mentioned in the report.

Why is this important?

CMS, in addition to the administering of Medicare and Medicaid, is responsible for developing and upholding quality standards in long-term care facilities through its survey and certification process. This quality assurance is not only in the interest of protecting nursing home residents and their families, but also the individuals who work in them, like you.

Here are our 5 key takeaways from CMS’s five-part plan, and what it means for you:

 

1. There will be an effort to improve nation-wide consistency in nursing home oversight.

CMS uses the insight of State Survey Agencies (SSAs) to aid in the oversight of nursing home quality. SSAs are the boots on the ground eyes for CMS; they pay annual visits to facilities to make sure they are meeting health and safety requirements, as well as state licensure requirements.

However, there are overwhelming inconsistencies from state-to-state in how agency surveyors identify facility issues. This causes a large disparity in quality of facilities – so where one well-ranked facility may be in full compliance, another may have a score of issues that places residents and nurses in danger.
Verma writes that the first step is to examine processes of training state agencies from the top down. By re-educating state agencies on the expectations of a compliant facility and arming them with clearer procedures of identifying and reporting unsafe practices, the hope is that not only will more issues be caught sooner, but also that future negligence and abuse can be stopped in its tracks.

2. CMS will get tougher on compliance enforcement.

One major issue that plagues skilled nursing facilities is unsafe staffing ratios. Without safe staff ratios, providers cannot feasibly provide adequate, safe care to residents – putting nurses like you in uncomfortable, and potentially harmful situations. CMS is looking to toughen up on compliance, but by using data, they’re also hoping to be smarter about how they enforce it.

For instance, since late 2018, CMS has shared nurse facility staffing data with SSAs, so that agencies can predict which facilities have potential issues with staffing and can tailor their reviews – namely by conducting surveys unannounced at times that are statistically understaffed.
CMS is looking for ways to hold nursing homes more accountable with penalties for lack of compliance. The trickle-down effect of this tougher line on compliance means that nursing homes will be safer places for you to work.

3. There will be an increase in quality transparency.

Nursing Home Compare is a CMS-run website that shares quality and safety data to help the public make educated decisions on where they receive care, where they send their families for care, and where they work. While CMS currently shares important payroll-based journal (PBJ) data and quality ratings on their site, they have made a commitment to publish even more data.

When a facility is deemed unsafe, the public has a right to know. So, Verma promised that CMS will not only publish but also actively spread the word when nursing homes fail to meet minimum quality standards. CMS also recognizes that transparency means not only publishing more data, or making data more readily available, but publishing data that the public can understand and use to make informed decisions.

4. Quality can improve once old ways are removed.

“This is not business as usual — we are pushing beyond the status quo,” wrote Verma. While CMS has always been responsible for ensuring quality, just as healthcare practice continues to evolve, so should the methods by which we measure the quality of our healthcare facilities.

Part of pushing past the status quo comes with the hard look CMS takes on its current processes and asking how they can be improved.

One way is to score providers on outcomes, not on their adherence to facility processes. This helps facilities push past practices that are done because they always have been and evolve towards practices that are done because they actually improve patient outcomes.

Money can also be a key driver to improve quality. CMS fines facilities a Civil Money Penalty (CMP) for non-compliance and these dollars could be put to good use. CMS plans to invest these dollars “to reduce adverse events, improve staffing quality and improving quality of care for residents with dementia.”

5. CMS will prioritize patients (and providers) over paperwork.

While proper documentation is essential in any healthcare setting, patients lose out when paperwork forces nurses to spend more time in front of a computer and less time bedside. Studies also cite administrative burden as one of the leading reasons for nurse burnout. (Read more about our thoughts on nursing burnout here.)

But how do you minimize burden while keeping patients safe? CMS is promising to take the challenge head-on. When implementing new rules and requirements for quality and safety, they want to focus on taking the most efficient approach to training and compliance. Verma emphasizes this point, stating that “going forward, we will continue to think about how we can streamline processes and eliminate obsolete, unnecessary, or duplicative provisions and we are interested in hearing from all stakeholders on ways to improve our programs.”

 

At IntelyCare, we are in a unique position as a partner of both nursing professionals and skilled nursing facilities, two stakeholders at the very epicenter of this issue. While it’s troubling to see the myriad of problems that nursing homes face come to light, we’re encouraged by the words and promises of Verma and her team.

We believe it is a step in the right direction to acknowledge that our nation’s nursing homes could be better and that there are initiatives in the works to make them better. We can always do better for our most vulnerable population, whether it’s by improving the quality of their care or the conditions of their caregivers.

We look forward to watching these changes unfold, and hope a safer nursing home experience, for you and your patients, is on the horizon.

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.

How Self-Care Can Reduce Nurse Stress

How Self-Care Can Reduce Nurse Stress

How Self-Care Can Reduce Nurse Stress

Nurses endure a lot of stress. The long hours and demanding shifts can put a massive strain on their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Over the years, several studies have documented the impact of work-related stress; one study found that nurses experiencing excessive stress from work had double the risk for a heart attack, while another discovered that workers who put in more than 10 hours a day had a 60% higher risk for heart disease than those who worked a more standard 7 hours per day. Armed with that information, nurses are faced with a myriad of potential poor health outcomes.

Stress not only affects nurses’ well-being but can also impact their ability to provide the best, most compassionate care to their patients. Small acts of self-care can go a long way to help reduce nurse stress and prevent burnout. Here are a few easy tips any nurse can incorporate to mitigate stress and improve their overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Get moving

Exercise not only has physical, but also psychological benefits. When we exercise, our body releases endorphins, chemicals which interact with receptors in our brain and trigger positive feelings in the body.

But that doesn’t mean you have to get off the couch and start running marathons; there are many different exercises that can help reduce stress, like yoga. Whether it’s a challenging yoga class or a slower, relaxing flow, yoga utilizes movements that improve circulation and help calm your mind.

Yoga not your style? Even taking a walk around the block with a friend can help improve cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness as well as your mood. Whichever form of exercise you choose, it matters less how you move, and matters more than you do. Strive to hit 30 minutes of exercise a day, and you’ll be well on your way to seeing some positive health benefits.

Eat stress-relieving foods

Diet and nutrition play a large role in our ability to manage stress. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD – a fitting abbreviation) – characterized by high intakes of red meat, pre-packaged foods, fried foods, high-fat dairy products, refined grains, and sugar – has been identified as a major contributor of health issues, such as obesity, heart disease, and stress, in the US.

Focusing on incorporating nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, fatty fish and lean proteins, and swapping out alcohol and caffeine in favor of water can go a long way to help reduce and manage stress. Not to mention, there are many other health benefits associated with healthy eating, like weight-management and improved cardiovascular health.

With busy schedules, it can be difficult for nurses to shop, prepare, and consume healthier foods; it can be much easier to fall back on pre-packaged, grab-and-go food. Instead of a complete diet overhaul, nurses should focus on incorporating fresh, unprocessed foods into their routine, and look for healthier on-the-go options for the busy days.

Reduce screen time

With new healthcare technologies emerging every day, nurses spend more time looking at a screen than ever before. While these technologies have been designed to improve patient care, they may actually be negatively impacting the professionals who look at them all day. Recent studies have found significant associations between screen time and moderate to severe depression in US adults.

When off the clock, nurses should reduce screen time to lessen the likelihood of eye strain, stress, anxiety, and depression. Enjoying time with family and friends, going outdoors, or reading a book are all fulfilling activities that avoid screens and can reduce nurse stress.

There’s no single right way to tackle stress, and there’s no perfect solution to prevent nursing burnout. Whether it’s a beginner’s yoga class, preparing a healthy meal, or spending a screen-free day with your loved ones, the most important aspect of embracing self-care is taking time for yourself. Thank you for caring for others – now it’s time to care of you!

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.

IntelyPro Spotlight Series: Flexibility to do what you love

IntelyPro Spotlight Series: Flexibility to do what you love

Flexibility to do what you love. IntelyCare Spotlights Pennsylvania Registered Nurse, Brandi Meyers.

 

We have a great team of IntelyPros across the US, and we’d like to start highlighting our IntelyPros who are the heart and soul of what we do. To kick off the series, we chatted with All-Star Registered Nurse Brandi Meyers of Pennsylvania, who loves the flexibility that IntelyCare gives her schedule. Brandi embodies everything we could want in an IntelyPro; she is hard-working, always on time, and she’s a great nurse that takes joy in helping others. We enjoyed getting to know her, and we hope you will, too!

 

Hi Brandi. Thanks for agreeing to participate in our IntelyPro Spotlight series. To start, can you tell us what made you decide to become a Registered Nurse?

Growing up, I always wanted to become a doctor. When I became a mother, I still knew I wanted to work in healthcare, and nursing seemed like the logical career that could support my family while working in a fulfilling field.

 

What do you love most about your nursing career?

I enjoy connecting with new people and helping them heal. I have a special affinity for geriatric patients in particular – they always have a story to tell, and they’re more than happy to share their wisdom with you.

 

What’s your favorite IntelyCare shift?

Weekend day shifts work the best with my schedule.

 

What do you enjoy most about working at IntelyCare?

I love having the flexibility to make my own schedule, and the variety of getting to work at different facilities. I like getting to know the patients and nurses at different facilities, but it’s also refreshing to mix it up. Because I get to work at different facilities, no day is ever quite the same!

 

What do you like to do outside of IntelyCare?

Anything outdoors! I love to ski, snowshoe, hike, bike and rock climb. I’m currently working on getting my belaying certification.

 

How does IntelyCare fit into your life?

Being able to customize my schedule is so important – the flexibility allows me to do all the outdoor activities that I enjoy so much. Because I work a flexible schedule with IntelyCare, I’m able to ski, hike, bike, and climb locally, as well as travel out of state.

Working for IntelyCare also gives me the opportunity to travel.  I have been able to plan whitewater rafting trips in West Virginia and ski trips up north, all because I have the flexibility to not be locked into a typical 40 hour a week schedule.

 

What advice would you give to people who want to start working at IntelyCare?

It’s really the easiest process to apply. You complete your interview over the phone and upload all necessary documents online, instead of going into an office. It’s also so convenient how you can track your hours and pay, and pick up shifts, all from the app. Also, make sure your phone is charged so that you can easily check into shifts!

 

Brandi’s Fun Fact:

I’m 38, I have three kids, and I only learned to ski last year. If I can do it all, so can you!

 

IntelyCare provides you with the flexibility to choose when and where you work. Want to take control of your schedule? Apply today to start earning!