Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories about the new, state-of-the-art long-term care facility that St. Crispin Living Community openend in Red Wing.
Safer. Easier. Better.
Officials use a lot of superlatives when they talk about applying modern technology at the new Care Center at St. Crispin Living Community on Pioneer Road.
"We are trying to embrace in the senior living environment the newest, most forward thinking high technology," said Dr. Neal Buddensiek, chief medical officer for the Benedictine Health System.
360 video: Inside the new St. Crispin Living Community
The St. Crispin development a new 64-bed care facility and the upgraded Villa at Hi-Park assisted living apartments - is a project of the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth.
Embracing digital technology at the Care Center helps bridge the gap between residents and nurses, plus technology assists in the care of patients by enhancing efficiency and improving workflow.
"It's a better experience for everyone," Buddensiek believes.
To begin with, all staff members will carry smartphones with custom apps. The rooms are being wired so residents can talk directly with staff. That makes it a simple but supportive experience for the resident, Buddensiek added.
"They will have the ability to talk one on one with their care providers and get an immediate response," said Jake Goering, St. Crispin administrator and CEO. Knowing why an individual called can simplify the process of identifying a need and making the appropriate response.
"It's about communication. It keeps us alert to people's needs so we are able to respond," he said, adding, "The human voice is very reassuring."
If the staff member does not respond to a call within a predetermined time, the call will roll over to a clinical manager or higher level staff. As many as 40 people will have phones at any given time.
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For staff, the phones will be a handy means of communication and collaboration. In addition, they will be able to do their charting on the phone - writing down when they deliver a service or tracking changes in an individual's status instead of waiting until they get back to a computer.
"That data is very powerful," Buddensiek said, describing the information as a radar indicating how a resident is doing day to day. "It helps us create or revise care plans with more precision."
Safety and security also are improved by using the latest technology, Goering said. Using the cellphones, staff will be able to get silent alarms, for example, if a problem arises.
Cameras will monitor common areas and doors, so that in an emergency the key leadership personnel will be able to see what's happening via their cellphones.
Knowing exactly what happened lets staff change an individual's care plan, for example, to better prevent falls or emotional difficulties, Buddensiek said. When cameras are used for the right reasons, he added, the result is improved care.
Entry/egress doors will be wired with electromagnetic locks to maximize safety, Goering said. Using technology, care staff will be able to get notification if a high-risk resident is at the door, perhaps attempting to leave.
Knowing what is happening in real time allows for a quicker response.
In addition to the digital technology, Buddensiek said, the Benedictine Health System also is implementing "non-pharmacological interventions" such as therapy dolls (lifelike infant dolls), music therapy (available on an app) and aromatherapy to provide residents with comfort and support.
"This is only the beginning of the journey we are taking," Buddensiek said. In some ways the new facility is a "learning lab" where new methods and materials can be explored.
He is particularly interested in predictive technology, such as a means of identifying early signs of infection, or unexpected changes in blood pressure or respiratory rate.
"St. Crispin will not be afraid of technology that we can use to help care for our residents," Buddensiek said.
Goering pointed out that many of the staff members have grown up with all the technological advances of the past few decades. "They will be very comfortable with what is being incorporated into our new facility," he said.
In fact, Buddensiek said, using modern technology may make health care more attractive to young people as a career.