[Nameplate] Fair ~ 91°F  
Feels like: 98°F
Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Keeping lines of communication open

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Carrie Drake, assistant director of nursing at Clearview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, inputs information from Darryl Jean, administrator, into the computer for the CareTouch program.
SIKESTON - It was a simple message but for a family member across the state hearing that his elderly mother attended the Valentine's Party at Clearview was reassuring.

Since January, the calls have come on a regular basis because Health Systems Inc., the parent company for Clearview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 430 W. Salcedo Road, has implemented a new communication service which provides customized messages regarding health-status, related educational information and social updates to the family and friends of care recipients via the telephone.

Keeping the lines of communication open between nursing home residents and their families is what CareTouch Communications is all about, said Matt Dolph, vice president of client services with CareTouch Communications. "CareTouch is a state-of-the-art communication service that helps healthcare providers communicate more effectively with a resident's community of family and friends," he said.

While Health Systems Inc has 56 long-term care facilities, Clearview is one of the first and one of only four in Missouri using the new communications program. Currently all 62 residents at Clearview have at least one person taking advantage of the CareTouch system.

"I was very excited when I heard about this system," said Darryl Jean, Clearview's administrator. "This brings in a new level of family communication to long-term care. Right now we have 140 contacts in the system but I can see growing to three times that."

When a resident is admitted to Clearview, the staff explains the CareTouch program. Jean said the family can decide whether to utilize the free program and there is no limit to the numbers of family members who can participate.

According to the administrator members of the direct-care staff, such as the nurses, input information on the computer about those they are caring for at Clearview. Logging in at the CareTouch site they answer a series of broad questions with each staff member providing their own specific information. After a final review by one of the nurses to ensure everything is up-to-date and correct, the information is transmitted via Internet to CareTouch.

"We deliver communications to CareTouch then in turn they deliver it by phone to loved ones," said Jean.

Dolph pointed out no additional hardware or software was required to begin the system's operation. All a family member needs is a phone. And not anyone can pick up the phone and get the information about the nursing home resident, either, Dolph said.

The CareTouch system uses advanced biometrics to authenticate the voice of the person who picks up the phone. "We imprint an individual's voice then just like a fingerprint it will determine if this is the person we are authorized to give the information to. Once the voice is matched, the message is delivered," he explained.

Family members can specify the time of day they want a call. If they aren't at home they can call CareTouch back and use a PIN number to access the system for the message.

If there is a question, the family member can ask for customer service. The system is also set up that if a family member becomes upset during a message, the call is automatically transferred to customer service.

Dolph pointed out the system can also be used to help educate family members. "You can educate people on how to communicate with someone who has had a stroke or has dementia or remind people if they drop off a gift or personal item to be sure to put the resident's name on it. It can be real simple things, tidbits or reminders," he said.

In addition to keeping the family updated on medical conditions, Jean sees another advantage to the Clearview residents. "Sometime the family doesn't know what to say or talk about but through CareTouch they have a wealth of information. It keeps family members in touch and involved in their loved ones' lives - maybe it's information about a trip to get their hair done which may not seem important to a lot of people but to residents these are important things they participate in," he said. "I think there is security in knowing that your family is in touch and knows what you are doing. It is the next best thing as living with them."

Since the system was implemented in mid-January, Jean said he has had nothing but positive reaction from family members especially those who live away from the area.

"Some folks come visit every day so to them this is not as important," said Jean. "But for those who don't get that opportunity, who can't see their loved one on a daily, or weekly or even monthly basis it is. A gentlemen living in Kansas City came in and shook my hand and thanked me for implementing the system."