How to Hire for your Senior Living Community

Independent living is a common goal for older people and often they need care and comfort to lead healthy and happier lives. They need help with activities of daily living, like personal hygiene, safety supervision, ambulation, housekeeping, meal preparation, shopping, and medication reminder. In fact, this is part of the reason they join assisted living homes in the first place. Having the right care team is the best way to ensure these adults get the most out of their stay in your facility. But the right team doesn’t just happen. It starts from the people you hire to be part of your senior living community. And as you may already know, hiring caregivers is one of the biggest challenges many senior homes face.

Representatives from most facilities across the US cite caregiver shortage as their top concern, far ahead of other threats like increasing minimum wage and unrelenting competition. Add that to the high nurse turnover rates, and you start understanding how tricky the situation is.

And the current industry growth isn’t making the situation any better. Today, caregivers have options when it comes to where to work. Meaning, you’re competing for employees against retail companies, fast food chains, and giants like Walmart and Amazon. Unless you have a well-thought out onboarding and retention program, your business might take a huge hit.

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In today's job market, signs like these are all too common.

What’s driving high turnover rates?

Currently, the US has the highest number of people age 65. Projections show that the baby boomer population will increase from 49 to 95 million between 2016 and 2050. During the same time, the labor force will only increase by 14%. According to PHI, labor-intensive work, few growth opportunities and irregular hours are some of the reasons senior care facilities continue to experience huge turnover rates.

How to hire for assisted living facilities

That said, the goal is not to onboard caregivers for your senior care services but to find those who can stay with you for a long time. This article will break down the hiring process to help you make the most out of it.

Determine the task at hand to pick the right caregiver

So, are you looking for a nurse to help residents take their medicines on time, or a physical therapist to keep the seniors in good physical shape? Your needs will influence the type of professional you’re looking for, as well as the approach you take. Here are some health care professionals for senior homes:

Physical therapists: Physical therapists help residents maintain their physical function and reduce the risk of falling. They take care of strength training, pain management, and fall prevention.

Registered nurses: Registered Nurses initiate treatment plans and administer medicine. They prepare IVs, give injections, draw blood and take vital signs. These nurse practitioners monitor patient health and ensure they’re getting proper care. They also report any changes in the residents’ health or living situation.

Licensed Nursing Assistances: LNAs work under the supervision of RN. They take vital signs, give enemas, and may initiate medicine, apply dressing, bandages, insert catheters, and monitor IVs. They may also feed residents and note down any changes in their health.

Occupational therapists: Occupational therapists identify the causes of difficulties that limit participation in activities of daily living, leisure engagement, and educational and vocational pursuits.

Social workers: Social workers help seniors adjust to life in their new residence, advocate for their clients; needs and rights, provide supportive counseling and make a psychosocial assessment.

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Define the job before hiring

Perform a job analysis to gather information about necessary skills, responsibilities, duties, work environment, and outcomes for a given job. For example, an elder who needs help with light housekeeping or hygiene will have different needs than one with Alzheimer’s. A job analysis guides you in creating a job description for the new employee. It also helps you plan your recruiting strategy.

Here are some common items that you can include in your job description:

Know what to look for

In addition to certification, you want to find a caregiver who’ll treat the residents with care and respect. The caregiver should also have a good disposition, ability to deal with stress, non-argumentative temperament, and overall compassionate nature.

Personality: Find a caregiver with a good personality. Their qualifications alone won’t change their attitude. Avoid a caregiver who comes with a list of things they won’t do. Instead, work with one who’s open to most assignments.

Experience: Your ideal caregiver should have the necessary experience to handle senior-specific needs. For example, if the seniors have Alzheimer’s, the caregiver should have experience dealing with Alzheimer’s patients and so on.

Training: A good caregiver should have some form of training, whether formal or informal. But depending on the task at hand, the caregiver may need certification and licensing.

Honesty and reliability: Check references to ensure the caregiver passes the honesty and reliability test to ensure they won’t steal from the residents or fake the hours worked. Also, check to confirm that they always show up on time every time.

Accountability: Ask interview questions that help you gauge whether the applicant shifts blame or takes responsibility for their actions. Then use your best judgment to determine if they are a good fit.

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Find and interview a caregiver

There are many ways to find a potential caregiver. You can ask for referrals, advertise on job boards like Craigslist or place an ad in the classified section of your local newspaper.

If you have a website, you can publish the job posting on your site and share it on your company’s social media pages. You can even share them through Google or Bing Ads. The goal is to spread the word about the job opening, to get as many applicants as possible.

Once the applications start coming in, you can interview the prospects over the phone and narrow down your options before interviewing in person. Use your job description to screen applicants – but also take it a notch higher to find out about things like:

Perform a background check before you hire

Background checks help you identify the right applicant to care for the residents and minimize the risk of hiring a person convicted of elder abuse. Think of it as a way to protect your residents against theft and violence. Background checks are essential, seeing 1 in 6 people 60+ years experienced elder abuse in 2020. In addition to checking criminal records, a background check can:

Depending on your preference, you can run checks through a private investigator or law office.

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Work with an agency

If all these seem overwhelming, you can work closely with an agency to find the right caregivers. Senior home recruitment agencies work with both professionals who seek job opportunities and employers looking to hire employees. They remove the hard work from the process, taking care of identifying talent, advertising roles, negotiating pay, and interviewing candidates, so you don’t have to. The only downsides of working with an agency are you’ll pay more for a caregiver and that you’ll also have limited negotiation.

What Can you Do to Help People in A Senior Living Community?

Many older adults prefer to age in place, even in cases where cognitive or physical decline makes it hard to live independently. According to one AARP survey, about 90% of US seniors wish to stay in their homes for as long as they can. Yet, the US Census data shows that most homes may not be designed to accommodate the needs of the seniors. The survey further adds that older homes have stepped entries, multi-story living, second-story bedrooms, hallways, etc., which make daily living a challenge. So, what can you do to help people in a senior living community?

Even though home care is ideal for many senior citizens, it is not always the best option for them or the family members who look after their health and wellbeing. This is especially true for seniors with medical needs or those in homes that aren’t equipped for it. 

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Senior living communities are a great alternative to home care. Some even offer additional care services while still allowing independent living. These facilities are excellent for the senior’s social life and make the transition easier down the road.

That said, it all boils down to what the seniors want or prefer. In this article, we will discuss some of the many ways you can help a senior citizen aging in place or living in a nursing home.

How to help people in a senior living community

As seniors grow older, they go through changes that affect every part of life. Many times, these changes prompt the need for extra care and assistance for seniors. So the seniors tend to become more dependent on other people to survive even against their wishes. They’ll depend on people for comfort, care, and support for survival and better quality of life.

Whether you are a professional nurse or caregiver, here is what you can do to help people in a senior living community.

Offer to get them around – at home and in town

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For many seniors, quality of life involves maintaining independence, taking part in hobbies, and getting out into the world. But mobility problems can prevent them from all these and cause depression, isolation, and declining health. If the senior has severe mobility issues, you may want to:

Organize and manage their medication

Safely managing medication is critical for older adults. Most seniors take multiple drugs throughout the day. According to studies, 87% take one prescription medicine, while 36% take five or more.

Helping the seniors manage their medication prevents mix-ups and ensures they take medications correctly as prescribed by their healthcare professional. Here’s how to do it:

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Prepare proper nutrition

Many people struggle with getting one well-balanced meal on the table each day. But it’s even tougher for older adults since they can hardly move around. Adding to the problem is that many seniors deal with a range of chronic illnesses that can contribute to or be worsened by poor nutrition. Assistance programs like Meals on Wheels offer great help, but you can also do a few things to help them get proper nutrition.

Encourage them to socialize

Elder care also involves helping the seniors find friends and fun activities to break the boredom. If you are offering home care assistance, this means driving them to their friends or loved ones or taking them to fun places.

If it’s in a facility, then you can encourage them to join different social activities. Socializing can offer a range of mental and physical health benefits. According to CDC, loneliness and social isolation affect many seniors in the US, putting them at risk for dementia and other severe medical conditions.

Help them manage their money

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Another great way to care for seniors in senior living communities is to help them with their finances. Many seniors struggle with keeping up with bills or accessing their mobile banking.

Others find health insurance forms confusing and could use a little help completing them. If you don’t have financial experience, you can help the senior get a referral from a reputable source. Your local area Agency on Aging is a great place to start.

Provide health care services

If you are a trained professional like a social worker, occupational therapist, or home health nurse, you can provide some health care services. For instance, you can prescribe medication, offer therapy and even offer bed baths. You can also hire professionals to help with things you’re not comfortable doing, like giving a bath and so on. But just be sure to check if the elder’s health insurance services will pay for it, or if it will be financed out-of-pocket.

Help with activities of daily living

Personal care includes any help with the activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, toilet/continence, meal preparations, eating, and transferring/ambulating. Most seniors who are unable to do such basic things might have a hard time accepting help. So you need to be understanding and reassuring to help them feel comfortable.

All of these things can greatly help people in a senior living community. Simply spending the time to ensure that their needs are met can go a long way in helping them feel comfortable and secure.

The Best Ways to Ensure Quality of Life to your Assisted Living Community

The benefits of assisted living services extend beyond activities of daily living. These homes open the world of opportunities and greater freedom for seniors. That’s why millions of families move their loved ones to these homes when home care is no longer a viable option.

As a service provider, you are always on the lookout for ways to enhance the level of care in the facility. This can pose a unique challenge because of varying needs of the elderly. But ensuring quality of life in your assisted living community doesn’t have to be complex. A few simple steps can help you deliver the best experiences to all the residents in your home.

The Best Ways to Improve Resident Care:

Address loneliness

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A study by the Brigham Young University found that loneliness can be as deadly as obesity or smoking. Senior isolation may encourage an unhealthy lifestyle, complicate the existing condition and affect cognition. It may also lead to higher cases of elder abuse as perpetrators take advantage of their isolation to scam, steal or injure them. Other studies show that Alzheimer’s almost doubles in lonely adults and that their mental decline was faster.

Going by these studies, addressing loneliness is one of the best things you can do in your senior living facility to ensure the quality of life. Great ways of preventing loneliness include:

·      Promoting social interaction

·      Encouraging a sense of purpose

·      Showing them that they are loved

·      Integrating physical activities like stair climbing, walking, and other age-appropriate workouts to keep the older adults in a solid mental, emotional and physical shape.

Hire enough staff

Staffing is one of the most tangible and crucial elements to ensure high-quality care. Everyone is happy when a facility has an adequate staff-to-resident ratio. But when the facility is understaffed, the team gets overwhelmed and becomes unwilling to offer assistance with activities of impaired adults. They may also become abusive out of their frustration. That’s why you need to hire adequate staff. But it's equally essential to onboard trained staff with a good grasp of residential care.

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Embrace new technology

Seniors may have shied away from technology in the past, but not anymore. The baby boomer generation is now widely adopting technology to keep in touch with their loved ones, manage their finances, alert caregivers in case of an accident, etc. They are using laptops, phones, and smartwatches for daily interactions and other activities. There are many other technologies that you can embrace to ensure your assisted living residents have a better quality of life, these include:

Personalize rooms

Personalization is critical, especially in memory care homes. It helps staff know the residents, their preferences, family, and special memories of travel and a well-lived life. It is also vital in the case of residents suffering from conditions like expressive aphasia and dementia. Usually, these people can’t tell their own life stories so their possessions that represent their activities, achievements, and memories can communicate about their past.

For this reason, it is a good idea to allow residents to bring some of their unique and favorite belongings and items with them as they move into the care facility. These possessions will not only aid with care but also help the residents feel at home. In addition to this, you may want to customize the rooms to fit the needs of the residents. Since no single resident has the same need as the other, it pays to understand the needs of each one of them and modify their spaces accordingly. And don’t forget the outdoors and common spaces too. A few things you can do in this regard include:

Provide lots of fun, social opportunities

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Spending time and maintaining relationships with others is essential to a senior’s mental and emotional well-being. It can prevent depression which is common with seniors. Studies by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 7 million adults in the US, 65 years and older suffer from depression each year. And while many aspects lead to depression, isolation and inactivity tend to be the biggest contributors.

Alzheimer’s Association recommends socialization to help seniors maintain brain activity. As such, providing lots of fun and social opportunities in your facility can be a great way to improve the level of care in your homes. Here are a few recommendations for social activities.

Make tidiness a priority

One of the main reasons seniors move from home care to assisted living is to get help with laundry and housekeeping. Providing stellar personal care services is essential, but ensuring that the rooms and surrounding area are in tip-top condition is also crucial. Assisted living homes always need to be clean to create a healthy environment for residents and caregivers. Hiring professional cleaning services can be a great way to ensure your facility stays clean. A clean facility offers plenty of benefits, including:

Emphasize providing quality meals and dining experience

Dining isn’t just an essential part of a senior’s social life in an assisted living community, it’s an important pleasure for them as well. Residents enjoy nice meals in a good dining setting. They also need well-balanced meals as part of their health care. When it comes to resident care, it is the simple things that matter, like eating what they want, when they want, and where they want.

While providing meals for the elderly, it’s vital to take note of their varying health needs. For instance, seniors with heart disease need to avoid processed meals and high-fat dairy products. Instead, they should eat high-quality proteins, healthy fats, colorful veggies and fruits, and low-fat dairy products. In addition to nutrition, you want to create an appealing dining atmosphere that makes residents eager and willing to enjoy their meals.

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What to Look for in a Top-Notch Senior Care Facility

The decision to put your loved one in an assisted living home is never an easy one. But unfortunately, sometimes it reaches a point where they can't stay at home due to serious health and safety concerns. In this case, placing them in a care facility can be a great way to improve their health and quality of life. A top-notch senior care facility will provide high-quality long-term care – allowing your loved one to interact with peers and live in a safe and secure place with help close at hand.

But you should know that assisted living facilities are not created equally. Some are better than others. So it's imperative to familiarize yourself with the qualities of a good senior living community. Knowing what to look for can help you make an informed decision. Here are some essential qualities to look out for in a top-notch senior care facility.

Sufficient staffing

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Nurses and other staff members in senior living communities play an integral role in ensuring your loved one's optima health and wellbeing. They will see to it that your loved one is as comfortable as they should be at all times. When a senior care facility is understaffed, nurses may cut corners to get the job done the best they can. Unfortunately, this might translate to neglect and abuse that may cause physical illness, mental health issues, and even death among residents.

Top-notch senior care facilities understand this fact too well. They know that sufficient staffing is key to improving patient care and nursing retention. So they always ensure that there's an adequate staff-to-resident ratio at all times.

Exercise and fitness

As your loved one grows older, it can become harder to maintain their physical fitness. But the very changes that make the physical workout more challenging also make it more vital. Top-notch senior living facilities provide a wide range of senior activities for their residents. Working out helps resolve common old-age issues. The benefits of physical activity for older adults are far-reaching, and include:

A good assisted living community maintains a schedule of senior activities for its residents. It considers their patient’s physical limitations as it motivates them to stay active with routine workouts.

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Interesting activities for residents

In addition to physical activities, a good assisted living facility will have a range of other exciting activities in daily living. It will provide different kinds of social, educative, and interactive activities. Skilled nursing facilities that offer various social activities are more likely to help senior residents overcome loneliness and feel like part of a group. These activities should accommodate the need of each individual – which can be diverse in this setting.

Comfortable and clean environment

You can tell a lot about a senior care home by just looking at its surroundings. But beyond that, there are a few critical details that you need to pay attention to. For starters, you want to check out their units and ensure that they are designed for long-term care. Then, you want to check the doorways and hallways to confirm adequate lighting and observe any obstacles or safety hazards that might exist. The spaces around the home should also be clean, tidy, and well maintained. There should be no semblance of odors like feces or urine. Most importantly, the residents should be well-groomed and their quarters should appear clean and tidy.

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The best-skilled nursing facilities invest a lot in keeping the facility as welcoming as possible. You'll see the manicured ground, safe walkways, shady and sunny areas, and outdoor seating. Their rooms are spacious and with plenty of natural light. They also have functional HVAC systems. In many cases, these facilities allow residents to bring their furnishings and family pictures to decorate their spaces. They also have common spaces where residents can interact with each other and their families too.

Safety and security

Safety and security are the most common concerns for friends and families who admit their senior loved ones into living facilities. With abuse and theft cases hitting the headlines every so often, it's essential to assess the security and safety measures that a facility has in place to protect their residents. Top-notch senior care facilities have a maximum staff-to-resident ratio to avoid overworking staff members. This reduces the neglect and abuse cases that arise due to nursing facility understaffing. It also ensures that residents don't wander or elope out of the facilities. Moreover, the best facilities also have surveillance systems to monitor all activities inside and around the premises.

Amenities

The best-assisted living communities have a wide variety of amenities to cater to their residents' vast needs. They will have a library, computer access, and a health and wellness center with personal trainers. Some even have barbershops and salons within the facility, making it easy for residents to groom their hair. Older adults also love it when they look good and can engage in activities that make them feel valued.

A strong sense of community

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You can gauge the quality of care in a home by looking at how the nurses and other staff members interact with residents. They call the residents by their name, treat them with respect and engage in conversations. The staff also encourages residents to socialize with others to enhance their quality of life. You can also rate nursing homes by looking at how welcoming it is to you and other family members. A facility where loved ones are welcome makes it easier for seniors to transition smoothly and feel comfortable in their new surroundings. Staff attention and minimum restrictions to make you feel part of the community can improve seniors' quality of life and make the home more welcoming.

Utilizes modern technology - software & wearables

A best-in-class assisted living community will often employ the latest in technology, like SeniorSense, so it can detect falls and moisture levels even as they happen. The innovative software can allow the community to see where staff is and track their progress as well as monitor conditions such as room and water temperature. It can even monitor battery life levels on wearables, smoke detectors and CO2 detectors.

 

Decision-making opportunities

Last, but not least, your loved one should have the freedom to air out their opinions regarding how they wish to sleep, dress, participate in activities and even receive care. Find out if they are allowed to socialize or dine together with other residents. Speaking about dining, top-notch senior care facilities serve visually appealing food. They also change the menu from time to time and consider the residents' health issues and their ethical and religious needs.

 

 

 

How to Know When Assisted Living Homes are Well-Run?

Assisted living homes are a great choice for older adults who need help with some or most of their daily activities. These facilities have professionals to help with things like getting to the bathroom, housekeeping, cooking meals, laundry, and transport to appointments. They also offer round-the-clock safety and security to ensure all residents are okay. But not all homes are created equal. How can you tell when assisted living homes are well-run?

There are approximately 28,900 assisted living homes in America, but no two facilities have the same level of service as the other. Some are clearly better than others. So, it is completely understandable to worry about whether the one you've enrolled your loved one in is efficient or not. In this article, we'll tell you how to know when assisted living homes are well run, to help put your mind at ease, knowing your loved one will be well taken care of.

The residents have a better quality of life

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The decision to transition to an assisted living home is often based on a need for additional care and support with daily activities. However, finding a facility that meets the basic needs is only the first step. A well-run facility also pays more attention to the overall quality of life of every resident. It doesn't compromise on aspects that improve the quality of life. These include encouraging physical activity, inspiring social interaction, fostering independence and a sense of purpose and nurturing spirituality. While it might be hard to measure, these aspects are critical in determining if an assisted living facility is well planned.

The facility exceeds the minimum requirement

You may be pleased with the fact that an assisted living amenity provides round-the-clock staffing, grocery shopping, health care support, transportation, laundry, and housekeeping services. But these are only minimum requirements. The best-assisted living environment goes beyond the basics. As mentioned above, they offer opportunities to chase new hobbies and creativity and promote social interaction. Most importantly, they evaluate and adjust the residents’ needs from time to time.

It hires a qualified and passionate team of caregivers

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One of the best ways to tell a well-run assisted living home apart is by looking at its staff's quality. A well-run facility will invest in quality staff. It will only hire qualified personal care assistants, nurses, administrators, directors, and coordinators who are passionate about their jobs. A qualified team can maintain senior independence, provide companionship, decrease senior loneliness, offer insight and detect changes in a senior's condition.

The facility has adequate staff

A well-run home should have a reasonable staff-to-resident ratio. It should also have registered nurses on-campus, as opposed to simply on-call. Adequate nurse staffing is essential when it comes to the quality of assisted living care. Unless a facility has sufficient staff to offer high-level quality care, your senior loved one may not get the attention he or she needs and deserves. Luckily, you can easily tell when an assisted living home is understaffed. It will feel chaotic each time you visit. There will be little-to-no coordination and the staff may always seem to have bad attitudes. You may also notice that the staff only talks among themselves as opposed to mingling with residents. Or that information gets lost between shift changes. All these are red flags of bad care.

It has a low staff turnover

Staff turnover is an unfortunate reality that many senior care facilities face from time to time. But a good facility will have only a few people leaving at any given point. In most cases, you'll still find a staff that truly knows your loved one. Bad facilities tend to have high staff turnover, to the extent you may notice that no one on staff even knows who your loved one is. Unfortunately, your elderly family member won't get quality care when the staff-resident pairing is not consistent.

The facility is determined to answer all your questions

In addition to staffing, you can tell a well-run facility by looking at how well they respond to your questions and concerns. The fact that they are responsible for the older adults means they are better placed to answer questions about their care. A well-managed facility will always have the right answers for things that happen within their premise; answers that put your mind to rest. They shouldn't say things like, "Old people do this all the time" when you ask why your mom is losing weight. Or “I don't know, but I'll find out,” when you’re concerned about the state of her personal hygiene.

It tailors services to meet the needs of an individual

Although assisted living homes must be suited for a resident's specific health status – like physical therapy for individuals with walking problems or medications for chronic conditions – residents are more than just their health status. They are your family members, mothers, fathers, siblings. A truly well-run facility will consider a person's interests, physical and mental health, need for social interactions, etc. So they'll hire mental health experts and also include social clubs and other support groups. A well-run facility tailors solutions to the resident's unique needs. And since these needs might change, the facility should also have structures in place to adjust to the emotional, physical, and social needs that arise.

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They answers calls

Well-run assisted living homes will always pick up the phone. So, in most cases, your loved one won't have to wait a long time after pushing the call button. You can easily know how fast they are by putting the light on and watching out for delay. See if it happens all the time or at a specific time of day – like during mealtime or shift change. Then bring up your concern to staff and observe how they handle it. It should be concerning if your loved one has to wait for a long time before getting help. And it's even worse if they have to do things by themselves because they couldn't wait any longer.

It is keen on nurturing relationships

Most residents in assisted living homes seek long-term care. Unfortunately, this might mean spending less time with friends and family members. Well-run facilities understand how hard this can be. So, a good home will go all-out promoting social activities. They also strive to build bonds between residents and their loved ones. They not only have amazing visitation policies but vast communication options. On top of that, they include vast social activities, like gardening, exercise, art or cooking classes, bridge league, and weekly game nights. Anything that gets the seniors to interact is a big plus.

Assisted living is like home health care as it covers activities of daily living. The only difference is that the senior relocates from his or her home to a new place. Ensuring that the facility is well-run is the best way to ascertain that your loved one is as comfortable as they’d be if they were home.

The Best Things to Give Your Loved One in a Nursing Home

Nothing can replace your love and attention when it comes to things to give your loved one in a nursing home. But there are a few things you can get to brighten their days and make their life more comfortable – most of which we'll discuss in this article.

Before you set out to buy these things, keep in mind that:

With that in mind, here are the best things to give your loved one in a nursing home:

Games and fun

Spending days, weeks, or months in the nursing home can get boring. Your loved one needs something to brighten up their days, all while engaging their body and mind. And what better way to achieve that than by getting them fun games. Games are exciting and entertaining and can also improve their daily life skills, memory, and overall mental health. The best part is there's no limit to the fun items you can get them. Here are some quick picks – but you can always find more.

·       Board games and puzzles

Board games never really go out of fashion. If your loved one has a friend who doesn't mind gaming, this should be your ultimate choice. Games like jig-saw puzzles, puzzle books, dominoes, chess, cards, scrabble, word search, and backgammon are perfect for old members in nursing homes. It’s even better when there’s some candies and snacks to share.

·       Adult coloring book or audiobooks

Coloring books are fun, just as they are engaging. And with lots of time to spare in the nursing home, your loved one will surely love to color to keep busy. But if they are not the type that loves to color, you can opt for something more entertaining and calming, like an audiobook or a print-book. In the latter case, make sure the words are large enough so they don’t strain.

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Coloring books are a great way to stimulate memory and overall mental health.

·       Art and craft supplies

For your loved one in the nursing home, creating art and craft pieces is not only a smart way to use imagination but also maintain dexterity in hands and fingers. There are plenty of art and craft supplies to match vast needs. Just find out what your loved one wants. Here are some good examples:

Flashlight and reading light

Flashlight and reading light come in handy at night. They allow your loved one to carry one with activities without disturbing their roommates. With these lights, the elderly can read or play their games at night, or even search for items. When shopping for flashlights, find those that use LED as they shine brighter and keep power for long. You may also want to find beautiful reading lights so it adds to the room’s décor.

Stationery and other writing supplies

The baby boomer generation loves the pen and paper. It would be thoughtful of you to give them a nice piece of paper, an envelope, and stamps. It's pretty hard for residents to get stamps. It's even harder to get cards for all occasions – whether it's birthday or Christmas and so on. When you give them blank cards, stamps, and envelopes, they'll be able to write to their loved ones during holidays, which is just great. You can also add in some dairy, notepads, pens, pencils, and other stationery that will allow them to write down or document things/events.

Toiletries

Most nursing homes provide toiletries for their residents. But as you know, you can never have enough of some things. Besides, these homes only provide select toiletries – like tissues and soap. So always want to ensure that your loved one has enough supply of other toiletries they need. Toiletries like lip balm (in seasonal flavors), aftershave, deodorant lotion, body spray, etc., are always a good gift idea. Do, however, ensure that your loved one is not allergic and can safely use these items. Most nursing homes have a locking cabinet for specific toiletries to ensure they aren't stolen or ingested mistakenly. As a caution, you can label the bottle with the owner's name.

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Home Décor

Your loved one will be staying in the nursing home for a while. So you might as well make it as homely as possible. Depending on how their rooms look, you can get the wallpapers, carpet, lovely covers, and so on. You may also bring flowers to liven up the room. But the vase should be easy to clean and appealing too. Again, be cautious while picking flowers, so they don't look like the "get well soon" flowers.

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Flowers are a great way to show someone you love them.

Senior-friendly clothing and footwear

Clothing is one of the top choices when looking for things to buy for a loved one. And with plenty of variety available in the market, there's no limit to what you can get. Since your loved one is in a nursing home, you want to find clothing and footwear that are warm, cozy, safe, and stylish too. Your elderly still want to look sharp even in the nursing home.

·       Comfortable clothing

When shopping for clothes, go for those that are comfortable and easy to wear. Try to avoid clothes with tiny zips or small buttons as they are hard to maneuver. Opt for wrap-around styles instead. Again, choose fabrics that are machine-washed and dried and avoid those that need special care.

·       Gripper footwear

You also want to find comfortable, breathable, and adjustable footwear. Gripper slippers or socks are a great option as they keep the cold feet warm and are easy to put on. Besides, these can keep your loved one safe by lowering the chances of slip and falls.

·       Shawls and wraps

Shawls, blankets, wraps are always welcome. Blankets can transform the room while keeping your loved one warm and cozy. And since the elderly always seem to be cold all year round, wraps, wearable sleeved blankets, shawls, button-up sweaters etc., are a perfect choice.

Show them love

Everyone – including those in a nursing home – enjoy a little love. You can show it to them whenever you visit. Sometimes even a simple visit can go a long way to brightening up their day! We all know how short-staffed some nursing homes can be. Simply spending time with your loved one is an incredibly valuable gift. You could also get them something funny or cute to look at when you are not around. If your loved one loves cats, you might be able to get them a cat. And if they are more of teddy bear lovers, then a stuffed toy would work the magic. Of all the things to give your loved one in a nursing home, time is going to be the one that is truly cherished.

Be Protected Online: 6 Tips to Protect Cybersecurity For Healthcare Staff

Cybercrime continues to be a significant concern across many industries, and healthcare is among its biggest targets. A 2018 State of Cybersecurity in Healthcare study by Horizon revealed that 100% of web applications linked to critical health details are vulnerable to attacks. Network penetration results also pointed out that cyber-attackers could easily access domain-level admin privileges of most healthcare applications.

The chronic underinvestment in advanced cybersecurity technologies has left many health care facilities so exposed that they cannot even detect cyberattacks when they happen. Since hackers may attack in a matter of seconds, it sometimes takes facilities weeks or even months to detect a breach, contain it and deploy resources to prevent the same attack from happening.

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Online data security is paramount in the healthcare and senior care industry.

Cybercriminals target health facilities for a range of reasons, but the main ones include:

Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed that most attacks are about money, and cyber attackers often take the easiest route to assess the data they need. Sensitive data, like medical records are highly valued by identity thieves looking to sell identities on the black market. And since health care facilities are easy target, it explains why they account for 25% of all data breaches annually.

Facilities – including those that specialize in senior care – continue to face threats like:

Although cyber attackers are smart and fly under the radar, healthcare facilities can increase their security fast. Here are some cybersecurity tips for outsmarting attackers:

Install a firewall

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A firewall can protect your facility's network from outside attacks.

A firewall is a firmware or software that prevents unauthorized access to a network – think of it as a gatekeeper. It is the first line of defense against unauthorized access and malicious attacks as it inspects incoming and outgoing traffic to detect and block threats. Senior care facilities can install a firewall at their network perimeter to safeguard against threats and record events to identify patterns and improve rule sets. Firewalls protect networks from worms and viruses along with rootkits and phishing tools.

Update operating systems and software

Most impactful cyber-attacks have one thing in common – they target vulnerabilities in outdated operating systems and software. The Equifax and BA hacks are good examples of successful attacks on unpatched systems. Both these cases were easily preventable. They had access to software updates but neglected to download and install them.

Cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest link. If a senior care facility uses outdated software or systems, endpoints become susceptible to attacks even from the most unskilled hackers. Luckily, facilities can prevent attacks with regular system and software updates.

Create a strong username and passwords

Strong usernames and passwords are essential to keep the facility’s devices safe. These devices hold information about patients and their prescription drugs, histories, billing, etc., which hackers’ favor.

Senior living facilities need to set solid passwords – those that are free of any identifying information. A strong password should leave out addresses, phone numbers, family names, first names, and real words as attackers easily deduce them. Instead, it should possess a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, random symbols and numbers.

Those who have a hard time coming up with hard-to-crack login information can use online tools that generate strong passwords. Once a password is created, it should not be shared with anyone. It could easily land in the wrong hands, especially since 53% of cyber-attacks are from within. Experts also recommend using a password manager to store all passwords instead of writing them in books.

Use a VPN

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A virtual private network, or VPN can mask your identity online and protect private information.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a network built by use of public wires – often the internet – to connect regional offices or remote users to a facility’s private, internal network. It is used by facilities to secure their digital information and internet activity. A VPN can help boost cybersecurity by:

Protect mobile devices

Senior living facilities can monitor and protect facility phones. But it can be a little bit challenging when it comes to individual phones. Older adults who have their smartphones may want to access social media or download stuff, which may expose them to attacks. The same applies to when they need financial assistance from staff members or even strangers. Therefore, it is good to train them on cybersecurity matters to avoid a breach. It also pays to control in-person access so that only trusted members can visit the elderly.

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Mobile devices are popular targets of hackers. Understanding how cybercriminals access your network is crucial.

Maintain good computer habits

Facilities should maintain all IT systems, including the EHR systems, to function correctly and reliably. Maintenance includes things like configuration management, operation system (OS) maintenance, and software maintenance. These involve a range of things, like

Create and maintain backups

Backups are more like the last line of defense – should everything else fail. If the attackers manage to penetrate through all the tight security features, the backup will come in handy. Malware attacks are known to delete or even corrupt files. But backup ensures that information is readily available. However, facilities should check and test the backup device regularly to make sure everything is working correctly. The last thing they’d want to deal with after an attack is to realize the previous backup was months ago.

These are a just few of our suggestions for protecting your data security at your healthcare facility. It may be a good idea to speak with your IT specialist about the steps they are taking to protect your facility's private health information from cybercrime attacks.

 

 

What is the Future of Nursing Home Businesses?

The Coronavirus has changed the way we do things, albeit temporarily. Soon enough, things will settle down and life will pretty much go back to the way it used to be – at least for other industries. The senior care industry, however, may never return to the old normal. With that being said, what is the future of nursing home business going to be like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt significant blows to the senior care industry. According to an ABC News analysis of the latest public health data, nursing homes in America have persisted as one of the pandemic's deadliest environments. As of May 31, 2020, there were a total of 95,515 confirmed and 58,288 suspected cases of COVID-19 in 88% of 15,400 Medicare and Medicaid eligible nursing homes. Of this number, 31,782 succumbed to COVID related complications.

Today, many nursing homes across the US remain on lockdown. The devastation, advocates and experts say, underscore longstanding problems with a system that, even in normal times, struggles with neglect, poor infection control, and understaffing. Now, the pandemic has fuelled calls for more drastic solutions, some have called for abolishing nursing homes altogether.

Advocates question the need for nursing homes, especially since many believe seniors aren't receiving proper care in these facilities. Their effort to deinstitutionalize nursing homes – which has had some success – pushes for in-community and home care options for disabled adults who need long-term care.

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Along with new challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the senior care industry is changing in major ways.

But the pandemic isn't the only problem facing the senior care industry. There are also some daunting economic and policy challenges that arise due to the growing baby boomer population. Again, many facilities were struggling with thin profit margins before the pandemic. Others were struggling to offer quality care or to stay afloat, and so on.

Of course, with all these things happening in the senior care industry, it only makes sense to wonder what the future holds for the nursing home business. This is especially true if you are considering investing in the industry. In this article, we will dive deeper into what's happening now and what the future looks like to give you an idea of what to expect.

What is a nursing home?

A nursing home is a place where those who don't need to be in a hospital but can't access home care go. Most of these nursing homes have skilled nurses and aides on hand 24 hours a day. They offer custodial care, like helping the elderly get in and out of bed, bathing, dressing, and even feeding. They also provide skilled nursing services like medical monitoring and treatment to improve older people's quality of life.

Estimates indicate that the number of Americans aged 65 and older will almost double from 52 million to 95 million between 2018 and 2060. By this time, the older adults will account for 23% of the population. With more seniors living longer than ever before, there has been a rise in the number of seniors needing nursing home or assisted living care. This explains why investing in senior living facilities is a good idea - but with a catch.

The state of nursing home business today

Nursing homes fulfill a need that is never going to go away – caring for the elderly. For as long as there are seniors, there will be facilities to help cater to their needs. But as we mentioned earlier, the pandemic has exposed the inherent flaws in these homes. Up until now, the country is still struggling to contain the outbreak. So we may not be in the best position to predict the actual backlash and the regulations that will be in place to ensure that these facilities are well prepared to handle any infectious disease outbreak in the future.

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As the senior population is expected to boom in the coming decade, the importance of safe, effective elder care is paramount.

As we mentioned earlier, many nursing homes were struggling with thin profit margins before the pandemic. But now, they have to spend more money on protective equipment and technology to connect residents with loved ones who can no longer visit. They also have to redesign their spaces to optimize infection control, and for some, this may mean losing beds. Add that to the rising demand to increase staff and pay, and it becomes expensive for these facilities to operate efficiently.

The revenues have also gone down because facilities are only enrolling a few residents to reduce the risk of infection. This spreads the already thin profit margins even further, making it hard for some to pay bills without government help. And even with government programs like Medicaid, operators still have a hard time because these payments don't always match up with care costs.

The future of nursing home business

Nursing homes play an essential role today, as they will in the coming days. Many seniors stay in these facilities because of various reasons. Some have an underlying health care problem that needs skilled hands. Others don't have a family member close by to help with daily tasks. But the trend is quickly changing as more families and their elderly loved ones start to opt for in-home care.

According to one report, residents are moving out of senior living homes faster than those moving in. Seniors and their loved ones are responding to at least three trends:

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In-home care is becoming a popular option for many seniors and their families as technology bridges the gap between patient and effective medical care.

This shift to home care will see many people embrace vast health care technologies to monitor and care for their loved ones at home. The Internet of medical things is widespread today. It allows people to do a range of things, including monitoring vital signs, routine tests, exercise, and even sending alerts in case of an issue. A good example is a wearable device that lets senior adults monitor their heart rate, sugar levels, and so on. Such tools allow older adults to send real-time medical alerts, making it easier to receive timely care. Motion sensors are another excellent example of modern care technology that's transforming the senior care world.

Owing to these trends, analysts predict that the nursing home sector will see a massive ownership shakeout, with some even going out of business because of the thinning of profits. There's a bit of conflict, though, as to whether this will lead to a net decline in beds or ownership consolidation – or both.

While the pandemic did not create the challenges facing nursing homes, it did expose them in a “not so good” way. Both federal and state governments made steps to help weather the storm; as the pandemic's depth became more evident, the federal government polished its policies and increased resources for facilities and states. The makers of policies should now review the entire strategy to see what works and what should be included in the long-term systemic change. All of this will greatly affect the future of nursing home business.

With an increasing elderly population and looming state budget cuts, the system is at risk of continued deterioration – including limited oversight, less access to essential services, and worsening of the understaffing situation. The pandemic placed the system on trial and despite all the effort to keep everything afloat, that system failed. Whether the system will stand the test of time or not is all dependent on responsible parties to make bold and lasting changes.

Is Blockchain Just for Cryptocurrencies?

Blockchain technology is an online database that offers information to organizations and enables them to record their transactions easily. The database is encrypted, so all communications are done between the organization and the peer-to-peer network only when it’s veritable.

The technology offers an excellent way to transfer data from point X to Y without worrying about false data being stored in the database because that would falsify the whole chain of millions of instances. Blockchain provides accountability since the transactions recorded pass through multiple-party verification and no transaction in the database can be changed by the parties later on.

What is blockchain technology?

As the name implies, blockchain is essentially blocks of encrypted data stored in a database (or ledger). Many would like to think of it as a robust spreadsheet. A single block of data links to a previous block, thus forming a chain. What makes blockchain unique is the fact that it’s a network of interconnected computers that don’t depend on a centralized entity to execute interactions.

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A central authority manages most databases that keep financial information. But with the blockchain database, the ledger is amended and updated communally by all the computers that are connected in the network. Since the records are held communally, no financial institution or computer is in charge. So, if a single computer in the system gets knocked offline or is hacked, the others can still function without it.

Advantages and disadvantages of blockchain

Pros

Cons

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

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In the context of cryptocurrencies, blockchain features a stable chain of blocks, each with a list of previously approved transactions. The blockchain network works as a decentralized ledger because its run by a network of computers spread worldwide. So, each participant (node) holds a copy of the blockchain data and communicates with the others to make sure they are all on the same page.

Blockchain transaction happens within a peer-to-peer network and is what makes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies decentralized digital currencies that are borderless and censorship-resistant. The whole point of using this technology is to allow people – especially those who don’t trust each other – to share critical data in a secure and tamper-proof manner. This is because blockchain technology holds data using innovative software and sophisticated math functions that are extremely difficult for hackers to manipulate.

Is blockchain just for cryptocurrencies? 

One of the first real-world uses of blockchain technology was in Bitcoin, a virtual currency that was announced in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto (pseudonym). But these types of projects are not tied to the Bitcoin network alone. In fact, most blockchains have nothing to do with Bitcoin. Once Bitcoin blockchain had been around for a while – successfully recording all Bitcoin transactions and surviving vast attacks – many entrepreneurs and programmers wondered if the Bitcoin data security design might be applied to create other types of secure databases, unrelated to Bitcoin.

Today, startups, SMEs, and large scale companies across different types of fields are increasingly integrating blockchain into their daily operations. It is now widely used in banking and finance to facilitate payments, improve capital markets, trade finance, deter money laundering, and in insurance. It also has applications in business, especially in areas like healthcare, supply chain management, real estate, media, and energy. The government, too, can use the technology for record management, identity management, taxes, voting, regulatory/compliance oversight and a virtually infinite amount of other types of real-world applications.

Blockchain’s best features for corporations

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The growing applications and use cases of blockchain technology

Healthcare industry

One of the main challenges that healthcare professionals face is to share information across platforms securely. A seamless flow of data between providers could increase the chances of accurate diagnoses and effective treatment. It’ll also lower the cost of healthcare. Blockchain technology allows healthcare institutions and other related parties to share network access without affecting the integrity or security of data.

Critical infrastructure security

The internet infrastructure has proven vulnerable to attacks, particularly when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Since critical infrastructures like transportation and power plants have connected sensors, there’s a heightened risk to the civil society. Luckily, some companies are using the tamper-proof database to share critical information across their networks. Others are using blockchain to offer massive scale data authentication. A good example is using blockchain powered Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI) to tag and verify data transactions.

Supply chain management 

The supply chain involves a series of transaction nodes that connect to move goods from one point to another. The technology allows businesses to document transactions in a decentralized record, thus limiting delays, human errors, and added costs. Different companies are coming up with blockchain-based products that enable enterprises to engage clients at the point-of-sale with data collected collaboratively from suppliers along the supply chain.

Blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT)

Blockchain technology decentralizes cloud services, therefore increasing security, connectivity, and computational power. This solves the inefficiency problems – especially those surrounding data storage and computational resources – that are associated with launching IoT products.

Blockchain and cloud storage

Companies that provide cloud storage usually keep clients’ data in one secure server, which makes it vulnerable to attacks. Blockchain cloud storage services decentralize data storage, making it less prone to hacks that can lead to systemic damage and colossal data loss. Companies are now providing blockchain-enabled cloud storage to enhance security and also reduce the cost of storing data in the cloud.

Blockchain ensures the security of data. The information stored in blockchain is fully decentralized since it’s kept in multiple nodes across the globe rather than in a single place. This addresses the concern of data protection in case there’s an error or breach. Records that are uploaded in blockchain aren’t accessible to or controlled by an individual. But each party holding the data has a private key that they can use to access the encrypted files. So, even if a hacker gets to access a folder, he/she will only see a partial file –which won’t be useful. That’s why industries, other than cryptocurrencies, are taking advantage of blockchain to enhance their operations.

Are COVID Antibody Test Kits Worth It?

Medical diagnostic companies are racing to produce antibody testing kits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments, on the other hand, are looking to order these antibody tests kits by millions.

The challenge that national regulators and governments are facing is to strike a balance between the urgency and the day-to-day specificity and sensitivity concerns that apply to any new medical diagnostic. There are still some concerns around optimizing test design, mainly hinging on understanding the virus' behavior and neutralizing it. Yet, there's an underlying rush to limit the economic impact, to reopen borders and to resume to normal routines.

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Some national regulators like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have already issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that allows companies to start selling testing kits right away. At the moment, the FDA has approved 25 antibody tests. Health Canada has approved only one antibody test.

Antibody (serology) testing

Following the relaxation of standard assessment criteria by the regulatory bodies, companies are now rushing to produce antibody testing kits to meet the demand. The antibody test kits can be used for a range of reasons, including:

Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and can offer protection against recurrence (immunity). The serological test kits tests people's blood for Coronavirus antibodies to check whether they have already healed from the virus and if they may have developed immunity to COVID-19.

Matt Hancock, UK health secretary, on March 24, told the daily press conference that his government had purchased 3.5 million tests that would allow individuals to check if they had the virus and had since developed immunity to it so that they could get back to work. However, these China-made kits were deemed not fit for widespread use. The UK government, on May 14, approved the use of 100% accurate antibody tests, which were produced by Roche, a Swiss company.

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The accuracy of COVID antibody test kits

The accuracy of COVID antibody test kits depends on a range of factors, including the duration between the onset of infection and test execution, types of antibody being assessed, and antigen specificity. Since the immune system often begins to produce antibodies within 1 to 3 weeks of a person being exposed to the virus, doing a test soon after exposure may not detect antibodies in the blood. As such, there are higher chances of getting false-negative or false-positive results.

Another factor that may affect the accuracy of the test result is cross-reactivity. Antibody tests meant explicitly for the novel Coronavirus can cross-react with related viruses like MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, and common Coronavirus and therefore give false negative or positive results.

The positive and negative predictive values are computed using a test's specificity, its sensitivity, as well as the assumption about the percentage of people in the population who have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. However, those interpreting results need also to consider details like diagnostic test results and clinical history to avoid false results.

So, this leads us to the big question, are COVID antibody test kits worth it?

Reasons why Coronavirus antibody tests are worth the investment

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Demonstrated specificity and sensitivity

Most kits that are approved by the regulatory bodies claim to have 98-100% specificity and sensitivity. 100% specificity means that the test won't confuse other antibodies for those specific to SARS-CoV-2. 99% sensitivity, on the other hand, means that when the kit examines 100 blood samples containing the antibodies, it will detect the antibodies 99% of the time. The Roche kits, for instance, claim 100% sensitivity and 99.8% specificity.

Can help identify potential antibody donors

As we mentioned earlier on, one of the most important current use of COVID antibody test kits – en masse – is to help identify the part of the population that's been exposed previously to the virus, irrespective of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. The test also shows those who have developed herd immunity after infection. This group could be a potential convalescent donor. Convalescent plasma is where blood plasma from patients who have had previous infections is artificially transferred to naïve patients to induce passive immunity.

But still, experts say that people shouldn't change any social distancing or other safety practices based on their serological test results because it's not sure whether these antibodies confer immunity or if they're likely to change clinical management. Later on, when vaccines are available, serology testing will facilitate the tracking of the immune response of those who are part of clinical trials.

People can go back to work

Experts argue that immunity-based licenses are great because they would free up those who've already contracted the disease without worsening the situation for those who haven't. Licenses are a less restrictive alternative. The current liberty-limiting measures on travel, work, and gatherings are justified because COVID-19 positive individuals may infect others, causing more deaths, illnesses, and strain on hospitals. However, these measures aren't justified when applied to those who carry little to no risk of infection.

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Quick results

A widely available test that delivers results in minutes would drastically change the world's strategy for dealing with COVID-19 as well as the way people live. People would be able to go back to work sooner if they are aware of their infection status. In a nutshell, using the COVID-19 antibody kits involves:

Curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus

When more Coronavirus diagnostic tests are available, those who test positive can get early care, especially if it's symptomatic. Besides, their contacts can be traced and placed in quarantine or self-isolation to prevent further spread. COVID antibody kits make contact tracing easier, which is a big plus to preventing further spread of the virus.