Home care providers are intimately familiar with tasks like keeping track of appointments, filling out paperwork, and managing patient medications. While most cite interacting with clients as the most fulfilling part of the job, logistical items are equally important. Yet, staying organized isn’t always easy.
Both certified nurses in the home care sector, Elisa and Andre sat down over coffee one day.
“Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m not as efficient as I could be,” confessed Elisa. “I have a busy schedule, yeah, but it’s been tough keeping track of all my patients’ needs and obligations. Sometimes the details are overwhelming.”
While she managed to get her patients where they needed to be safely and on time, and distribute medications accordingly, Elisa was distracted.
Fortunately, Andre had a few suggestions. He’d developed an organizational system that was so effective, logistical items had more or less become second nature. Here are some strategies he shared with Elisa:
- Start a patient “journal.”
By documenting the client’s needs and symptoms on a regular basis, home care providers can closely monitor the care receiver’s medication requirements, habits, symptoms, and overall well-being. Confidentiality is key here, and whether the journal is digital or handwritten is irrelevant.
The benefits of this strategy are twofold: First, keeping a patient journal can help the caregiver gain a more solid grasp of the client’s needs and habits. In addition, maintaining a written record will make it easier to share pertinent information with others. From letting a doctor in on essential details to updating a colleague or substitute caregiver, patient journals are highly underrated tools.
- Use a calendar.
For Andre, using a calendar to manage his work obligations—including patient appointments and excursions—was a game-changer. Elisa relied on an actual planner to manage her commitments, but Andre recommended going digital.
The advantages of calendar apps, he explained, are that you can share the patient’s appointments and your own availability with other care providers and the client’s loved ones. You can also access it from anywhere, and use visuals to distinguish different entries. Andre uses red to mark his patients’ medical appointments, for instance, and blue to illustrate their personal engagements.
- Embrace files and folders.
Bills, receipts, an inbox overflowing with unread emails—how could Elisa possibly find what she needed amid the clutter?
While Andre isn’t an advocate of throwing things away, he recognizes the importance of labeling and filing relevant documents. Regarding email, each client has their own folder so that he can quickly access important messages. And in terms of bills, receipts, and paperwork, he maintains separate binders—divided into subcategories, from “Medications” to “Important Phone Numbers”—for each patient for this same reason.
“Set up these systems, and the organization will follow,” Andre told Elisa.
We couldn’t agree more.
Stay tuned for more tips, tricks, and resources from Nurse2Help. The Nurse2Help app lists hundreds of prescreened caregivers in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Please contact us for more information.