Deaconess Nurse Ministry offers four different programs: Community Outreach, Senior Health, Congregational Health, and UCC Clergy & Spouses. In these programs, delivered in person and on-site, in-home, at houses of worship, or through other face-to-face services, nurses and staff offer health and medical screenings, administrative assistance, companionship and prayer with and for seniors, keeping them healthy, safe, and living independently as long as possible. Through compassionate care and faith-based, high-quality programs, Deaconess provides aid to those in need by integrating mind, body and spirit in a way that helps their clients thrive.
Several years ago, Deaconess made the decision to implement case management software. At that time, their goals were to clean up their data, streamline the process of data entry and have a centralized database for administrative staff and nurses in the field. in addition, another goal was to improve reporting accuracies and make it easier to tell their story to funders. “Pre-Apricot, reporting was a nightmare; now all I do is push a button,” reports Rev. Donna Smith-Pupillo, RN, Executive Director of Deaconess Nurse Ministry.
When Covid hit, demand for services skyrocketed, and Deaconess was faced with how to meet growing demand while keeping their staff, nurses and participants safe.
The pandemic suddenly and radically shifted the need for increased in-home visits for seniors. Also, processes like application assistance that was previously done on-site required virtual and more in-depth help. Demand on staff to perform multiple tasks increased and intensified. In order to fulfill the mission of the organization, nurses needed to spend less time on administration, freeing valuable time to serve seniors.
In order to optimize staff time, Deaconess chose an Advanced Support package from Social Solutions. This decision saved time and budget, eliminating the need to hire a dedicated person to manage, analyze and report data. Staff were freed to be where they were best and needed most: serving participants in the mission of the organization, optimizing their staff’s abilities and capabilities to meet the needs of their seniors.
Their Advanced Support Consultant (ASC) further refined their data and reporting so they could be more informed in program and strategic decision making. “I used to enter the data myself. Bringing on an ASC was very helpful because we now have really streamlined the data entry for the nurses, but it’s also gotten better in that I can now report our goals on a dashboard every board meeting,” boasts Rev. Smith-Pupillo. “I can’t say enough about our ASC and what he’s done for us. He came up with the best ideas for showing income sources; he can tweak data exactly to meet both my nurses and my reporting needs. My staff regularly says to me: ‘Never stop using Apricot!’”
As a result of more sophisticated data, Deaconess now has the ability to track and see social determinants of health. The data pointed out needs for services, opportunities to grow programs and potentially receive new and increased funding for them. As a result, Deaconess shifted from referring a high percentage of seniors to serving them inhouse with new programs. Armed with this refined data, Deaconess used it for strategic planning and designed the growth of more robust programming.
In order to meet the growing needs of seniors, Deaconess was able to identify and obtain new funding opportunities and utilize Apricot’s reporting to tell their impact story of improved outcomes. In fact, Deaconess has become a United Way Agency, giving them a substantial increase in funding for three years. The same goes for the two grants Deaconess received from the St. Louis City Senior Fund, an incremental tax fund in St. Louis. These have increased their funding by 31% annually, which allows them to touch more lives and improve the services seniors actually receive in their homes.
As we all know by now, the pandemic brought on the need to do more at-home visits and follow-ups and an increase in in-depth case management style work. Because Apricot is cloud-based and the database is centralized, all authorized staff, including nurses, were able to access information and report in real-time what each client needed and how to assist each.
Because of Covid, many Deaconess nurses realized that most seniors were staying home, and, consequently, felt isolated. As a result, Deaconess pursued and received a Humanitarian County Covid Grant to do an evidence-based program related to senior loneliness called Circle of Friends. This program taught seniors how to use tablets and track pre- and post-Covid loneliness and depression scales. Apricot enabled them to track the results and demonstrate that in helping to teach seniors to engage in the Circle of Friends Program and use the tablet to interact with their family and not just the nurses and staff, it made a real difference for seniors in improving depression and loneliness.
Using Apricot to track social determinants of health, Deaconess has increased their mission of “call-to-care” for every life with expanded programming and robust case management. New programs and funding allow them to provide financial assistance to seniors for food, utility assistance and other essential needs. Additionally, they can provide seniors with a thorough financial, nutritional and medical needs review.
The growth of Deaconess, enabled by data and by the courage, resilience, and innovation of the nurses who go above and beyond to help their clients thrive, can be seen in its transition to more robust services and programming. With the use of Apricot’s data, Deaconess Nurse Ministry has been able to further improve and develop their wholistic health services and increase funding and participants. Utilizing Apricot over time has shown that it enables substantial growth firmly within an organization’s grasp. And for Deaconess, the sky’s the limit.
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