Computers help with care

Computers help with care

By our employee miriam hegner

In a care facility, everything must be documented precisely: when was how much medication given, when was washing done, when was shaving done, when and how much food was given. Filling out and filing the forms costs the nurses a lot of time – time that they don't have for their actual task: caring for the seniors.
Computers and computer programs can help: they record data faster, find and organize them. "But it's important that the employees accept the electronic system and know how to use it. Only then will the system achieve its goal, explains melanie keller, graduate of the master's program in social work at the coburg university of applied sciences.
In her final thesis, she studied the topic of electronic nursing documentation and examined how the introduction of such a system in a nursing home can be successful, and what the prerequisites are for it to really save staff time and money.
She interviewed staff and care managers from two different facilities: ernst faber house in coburg and seniorenstift martinsberg in naila. The ernst faber home still uses handwritten documentation, whereas in naila, work is already being done with mobile laptops. Melanie keller wanted to know what the expectations of such a system are and how the implementation in naila has worked out.
She evaluated her results and drew up a list of guiding questions, such as "do we need this change at this point in time??", "are the financial and human resources available for a changeover??", or "who can impart the necessary specialist knowledge to the employees??"
"These guiding questions are a recommendation on how to approach the implementation of such a system, what points need to be considered to make it a success", says melanie keller. The choice of an electronic system is also crucial. For example, there are permanently installed computers in the rooms or in the corridors where the nurses enter the data. Another option is for nurses to take laptops to their rooms, as they do at the senior center in naila. Another variant is smaller devices, such as tablet pcs, which do not require a storage surface but can be held and operated by hand.

Involving staff
"Not every system fits equally well in every facility. It is also important to involve the employees from the very beginning, even in the selection of the hardware and software", recommends melanie keller. "In naila, a project team was formed to look around at other facilities and make comparisons." There has also been intensive training for the staff. "Especially for older employees, this takes away the fear of daily work."
Andrea tabatt-hirschfeld, who supervised the thesis, is pleased that melanie keller has succeeded so well in combining theory and practice in her work. "This recommendation for action is certainly transferable to other care facilities", praises the professor. Also franz K. Schon, chairman of the coburg diaconal agency, is sure: "there is valuable information in here for our work and further planning." He could also envisage the introduction of electronic nursing documentation with the help of keller's guide for the ernst faber home, which is run by the diakonie.

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