Recent publications from Sun Country concern a "Release of Time To Care" program. The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce time spent on wasted activities like searching for medical
equipment, complicated paper work full of duplication, managing poor communication between
staff/patients, etc. The time gained will be used to spend more time at the bedside with the patient. I commend them on this attempt and want to focus this article on the move away from time consuming paper work. In the past number of years health care workers have been inundated with paper. Speaking as a nurse, the amount of necessary paper work has become over-whelming. For example upon admission to Long Term Care a nurse is required to sort through 40 to 50 pieces of paper. Subjects such as..........past health history, present health issues, next of kin [at least three names addresses and contact info], past education, birth date and anniversary date, names of children, names of pets, your SIN ,OAS, PHN, GMS numbers are asked. Then we need your medication information, your diet likes and dislikes or restrictions sometimes nurses are required to asked if you like milk or tea or coffee with your meals!!! We feel it is good to know your past activities and livelihood. Of course we need a present measure of you BP, pulse, Spo2, blood sugar, height and weight. And for good measure we check your pedal pulses and do a top to bottom physical assessment. This should only take four to five hours.Although much of this information needs to be exchanged I wonder how much is lost in the pile of paper ?Now that the nurse has the required information, we write a Care Plan which consists of all the care an individual will need while a resident. Often a manager will require that this be done in the first 48 hours of admission. Once admitted, staff are to chart the care each patient or resident has received such as, dental care, grooming, dressing. bathing and eating. If you walk attended or unattended. Do you use any equipment? Nurses have to assess residents ability to mobilize and document then each of these require a written note or signature. Medication administration requires more attention. Each pill is individually poured and individually signed for with the nurses initials. If a facility has 40 residents who on average require 10 pills a day that means a nurse will sign her initials at least 400 times in one shift.Staff is also responsible for checking doors, restraints, daily and nightly jobs, and of course put a signature for each task completed. What happened to holding an employee accountable to do their job overall, not micromanaging every task they undertake. It seems more of the nurses time is dedicated to paperwork then it is to the patients. Administrative duties are taking over.
The reality of the health care system today is that to prove care was done, it has to be on paper. No signature = No care. I understand th need for documentation, but I hope our health care leaders can find away to lessen the time nurses spend with pen and paper and increase the time they spend with their patients. I am hopeful that the "Release of Time To Care" promotion might be the first step in the right direction. Nurses, patients and residents will be grateful.