Nurses at VON Hamilton may be wary of construction detours en route to seeing their home care patients.
The VON branch is taking employee tracking to an extreme by issuing Blackberry devices that will not only record arrival time at each “client’s” home, but also whether they have “deviated from route” on the way there.
The tracking was outlined a September 6 memo from Germaine Lee and Mimi Mitchell, managers at VON Hamilton.
Clearly management at VON Hamilton has too little to do if they intend to spend their days figuring out whether their nurses went directly to the home of the next client or deviated a few blocks to pick up a Tim’s.
It is also shockingly demeaning to professional workers to engage in this level of monitoring when a missed or late appointment is likely to result in a call from the waiting patient anyway.
The fact that their investments and management time are being spent on tracking devices for their workers is an appalling misuse of public funding and suggests poor priority decision-making.
Such tracking devices are not new to the home care agency community – one that appears intent on speeding up care rather than enhancing quality. Procura, the company VON is using for its new tracking program, boasts that 350 customer sites in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.
Procura’s website suggests their product is about enhancing quality care based on evidence, but the memo from VON Hamilton makes clear this is really just about tracking and pressuring nurses to pick up the pace.
While the new Blackberry devices have yet to arrive, workers are told to call from the home phones of their patients – not the nurses’ cell phones – at the first and last client of the day to record to the minute the time of their first and last visit. At VON workers are not paid for the time it takes to reach the first client, nor the time to go home after the last client.
When the new system is implemented, VON Hamilton nurses will be required to “enter” their arrival time and departure time at every client’s home, not just the first and last.
By monitoring the time of each care visit, it places significant pressure on the nurses to get in and out as quickly as possible, raising questions about both safety and quality of care to the patient.
The extreme tracking suggest a lack of trust in the workers, ironic given workers at VON Hamilton rallied to save the organization after management’s poor submission to the Community Care Access Centre bidding process had knocked them out of contention in 2008. It was only after the local had rallied the Hamilton community that the competition was cancelled and the VON contract extended by the CCAC.
The new devices also fly in the face of VON CEO Judith Shamian’s commitment to organizational transformation that she says will be a “much more collaborative and shared decision-making culture.
The union is appealing to VON Canada to intervene, noting the tracking is part of a deteriorating relationship between front line staff and management that urgently needs addressing.