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Posted: February 02, 2005

Professional Caregiving

Spreading the Word on Your Good Work ?
And Raising My Hand First

As I sit at my PC, it is exactly 6 months and 18 days since I began writing this column. I?ve tallied the topics covered so far, and see that I have written about caregivers, employers, marketing, program design, legislative issues, mastering change, dementia, employees, partnerships and a variety of other hot professional caregiving topics.

It is time to ask you again to toss out some topics that you have particular interest in.

Most importantly, share the ?power changes? you have created that have impacted your work the most. Look back over your year and ask yourself what were the most effective activities you and your team undertook? Why was it so effective? Is it an idea you would be willing to share?

I?ll start, but I am depending on you to pick up the ball and share your stories of the best and brightest activities, projects, or stories of success that your work team accomplished this year!

I can truly say that this past year has been very productive, and much of my team?s energy and focus was in finalizing a workable, user-friendly database program that does all of the client and referral source tracking needed in the adult day services I operate.

The project actually started years ago while I was with a previous employer. I was no longer satisfied keeping my statistics on client/caregiver demographics by hand. How many trees have I caused to be cut down for the hundreds of legal pads I used to use to track client demographics, marketing contacts, care plans, diagnoses and so many, many more pieces of information about our clients that helped us be more aware of trends, whether client specific or market specific?

In the process of designing a workable database system in the late 90?s, more and more components of service delivery proved to be as trackable and informative as the basic client profile components I started with. While contemplating the purchase of commercial packages on the market, my budget constraints demanded a home grown approach first.

I began by sorting out all of the areas of data collection my staff and I have been doing to keep our fingers on the pulse of the customer. What are the diagnoses, age, race, funding, income, sex, ZIP codes, and living arrangements of our client group? What did our caregiver profile look like? How many worked or lived with their older family member? How many were long distance caregivers, what were their ages, sex, race, income, family supports?

I also wanted to stay on top of client function, so the scoring we do semi-annually prior to the ?client care plan? were numbers I wanted to track for trends. Marketing contacts -- who were they, who made the most successful referrals? Who needed to learn which clients could benefit from our service? You get the point.

So I developed an overall listing of content areas I wanted in our database, and then I developed the groupings of information for each of my reports-demographics, attendance, funding, marketing, etc.

At this point I was ready to begin working with a software programmer, teaching her about the different aspects of data collection and she developed the software.

The software is now available for sale to other adult day providers, having trial-ballooned it on my staff and four centers for more than one year. This also meant developing training modules for my staff and helping them transfer from one system to the next.

The most important piece of this process was the momentum we gained and kept to continue moving ahead. I have found that without the structure to keep a project alive, we could very easily still be at stage one with a great concept, and very little to show for it. Every time we thought we had a complete project, another report was needed, for this or that, and another component was built. It was a team effort that has produced an enormous time savings on reporting, especially when grant writing and the demographics at simply at our finger tips to provide useful, present tense data needed for fund raising and PR.

We now have a software program that tracks all client demographics, attendance, billing, transportation, care planning, and a variety of reports that follow intakes, admits, discharges, referral contacts, label for all clients, caregivers, physicians and referral sources.

This effort, which was developed into a saleable product this past year, has proved to enhance the work we do, by enhancing our knowledge of our clients and referral sources, enabling us to see trends and to develop interventions based on our data review.

I don?t see Bill Gates knocking on our door to get his hands on this software, but even if we sell it to a handful of other centers, we will have spread our effort out into the larger adult day service industry ? and have a larger success on our hands.

That?s what this column is about too. Spreading the good information created by our teams of dedicated staff, so our colleagues and customers benefit.

What can you share? Let?s hear from you!

_____

Sylvia Nissenboim is a licensed clinical social worker and who has been working in the field of adult day services in the St. Louis area. She is the director of four adult care and enrichment centers for the American Red Cross and also operates a personal and professional coaching firm, LifeWork Transitions, specializing in caregiving concerns, adult day care management and other aging services, such as virtual coaching and family care giving support groups. She co-authored The Positive Interactions Program, is a national speaker, and has served as president of the Missouri Adult Day Care Association and as a member of the Missouri Governor's Advisory Council on Aging..

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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