On Thursday, March 12, 2020, I arrived at a Sarasota, Florida nursing home to visit an elderly family member. The polite but firm staff did not allow me to enter the building and I was asked not to return until further notice.
This was a common occurrence across the nation as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced new restrictions that prohibit family and friends from visiting nursing homes and assisted living facilities due to coronavirus. While this is necessary to protect the elderly – the most vulnerable group at the mercy of the outbreak – it’s stressful news to family and friends with loved ones in those facilities. It’s also difficult for patients and residents who depend on emotional support from friends and family visits.
Consider yourself lucky if your family is not in this situation. But millions of people and nursing home organizations are affected. This unprecedented restriction has elderly care administrators, families, and patients struggling with how to manage the uncertainty and fear of this awful situation indefinitely. But that hasn’t changed the fact that the families and friends who can no longer visit need to make sure that their loved ones are being cared for properly during this crisis.
Communication between administrators, health professionals, staff, and families is now more important than ever. The nursing home I visited was trying to figure out how they were going to handle this and I’m certain that they’re not the only ones. But there are options.
In this article, I want to get right at one of the best options for keeping people informed, getting their questions answered, and helping administrators manage family and employee concerns.
The Power of Text Enabled Business Lines To Manage Nursing Home Visitation Restrictions
The technology to text enable an ordinary business landline while keeping the same telephone number has been around for a while. You’ve probably seen other companies with a “call or text” phone number on their website. Texting is arguably the most preferred communication platform anywhere. It’s quick, efficient with high open and response rates. Most people can send and receive them without adding any additional apps to their phone.
But the real power of this technology for nursing home administrators in managing employee, family and visitor restrictions lie in easy to use features that come with the change. Here are a few examples:
- Manage family information requests – rather than trying to get someone at the nurse’s station on the line, family members can text a question into the nursing home’s mainline, and receive an efficient response back from a staff member or nurse. An after-hours or during hours autoresponder can let family members know within seconds that their text has been received and will be answered.
- Send messages to defined groups all at once – In addition to individual texts, the system allows administrators to separate people into naturally different groups – for example, nurses, family members, etc. Important information to keep groups informed of relevant issues can be sent to the entire group at any time. The messages can be pre-scheduled or sent when needed. It also allows staff to send reminders and include pictures and files if necessary.
- Warm text messages – Messages can be configured to include emojis, optional signatures, and automatically entered patient names. In my opinion, warmed up texts from the administrator go a long way to make people feel that you care about them and the patient, personally.
- Notify staff immediately – Assigned staff is notified anytime there is an incoming text. All texts are managed from a user dashboard that keeps records of the text strings, contact information and allows message setup.
- Create and use message templates – Staff can create templates that contain answers to commonly asked questions. This makes for an efficient response to customer inquiries.
- Keyword Routing of inquiries – Defining keywords that people can text to the landline can route requests to the right department. For example, texting “nursing” to your business number routes the request to the Director of Nursing office for fast and proper responses.
Why Making This Change Works For Everyone
Having landline text capabilities and assigning certain people customer text responsibilities allows elderly care facility administrators to create an efficient communications system that distributes critical information – one that can help families and friends reduce their fears, feel better about their family member’s well-being, and cope with the forced separation from their relatives. It’s an idea that is made more important by coronavirus circumstances.
If you already have this texting capability on your landlines, you’ll no doubt agree with some of these features and benefits, and have additional ones of your own (please comment if you do). But I think there are far more nursing homes and assisted living facilities that don’t have it.
Want More Information On Text Enabling Your Business Landline?
We have partnered with a technology company to help install TextAdvantage systems that will enable the benefits in this article. It can be done at a price that almost any nursing home or assisted living facility can afford. And the return in terms of managing communications and helping families through this crisis is enormous.
TextAdvantage is not just for nursing homes – but it’s tailor-made to help solve these issues. it’s an effective tool for any business that wants to enhance their customer experience and build their business as well. Optionally, CallAdvantage technology can place a click to call button on your website.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more.