Relias Helps CalVet Achieve Compliance and Excellence The Veterans Homes of California (CalVet) provides affordable long-term care to aged and disabled veterans and their eligible partners. CalVet operates a total of eight locations across the state offering services ranging from independent living to assisted living and memory care. Six locations include 24/7 skilled nursing facilities for veterans with significant clinical needs. Several of their locations also made the U.S. News Best Nursing Homes list in November 2021, and others made the California list in Newsweek’s America’s Best Nursing Homes 2022. According to Miguel Mojado, MSN-INF, RN, DSD, who oversees the education at all eight CalVet nursing homes as supervising registered nurse and nurse instructor, they couldn’t have done it without Relias. We spoke with Mojado to better understand how the Relias Platform has helped CalVet achieve such impressive survey results and accolades from national publications. Relias Platform Significantly Eases Survey Preparation Burden According to Mojado, CalVet is required to undergo routine licensing surveys from three different entities: the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the State Veterans Homes, which requires a Veterans Affairs (VA) Department survey conducted annually to ensure VA standards are being met. Given the demands of preparing for three different surveys regularly, Mojado said, “The automated reporting feature in the Relias Platform gives us the ability to not only prepare [for surveys], but also to improve our compliance.” CalVet uses most if not all the tools in the Relias Platform. “The use of the electronic training plans provides automation, easy tracking, and manageability of our annual training. I’m able to organize a year’s worth of training in one place.” “The use of the electronic training plans provides automation, easy tracking, and manageability of our annual training. I’m able to organize a year’s worth of training in one place.” — Miguel Mojado, MSN-INF, RN, DSD Additionally, Mojado said he appreciates the system feature that allows CalVet educators and managers to track when staff licenses and certifications are up for renewal. The Relias system allows automated alerts to notify learners if their licenses or certifications are about to expire. Support for Monitoring Completions and Compliance Given the broad scope of training activities CalVet provides, Mojado said he finds the tracking and reporting features in the Relias Platform extremely helpful. CalVet has set up weekly notifications to alert employees about course assignments and approaching due dates. In addition, “Reports are provided to supervisors and managers on a regular basis prior to due dates to safeguard timely completions of assigned courses,” Mojado noted. Reporting capabilities are instrumental in helping CalVet staff stay on top of their game with compliance and training requirements. “The automated reporting gives us the ability to not only prepare for compliance but also improve our compliance. We pull reports weekly and as needed to track completion and compliance for each department.” Flexibility To Adapt During the Pandemic COVID-19 repercussions have led to opportunities to rethink training and staff development approaches, Mojado noted. The pandemic has created challenges such as, but not limited to, social distancing. Mojado has applied for waivers from the California Department of Public Health to allow CalVet’s certified nursing assistants to obtain their 48 continuing education credits completely online. Another advantage of the Relias Platform is that it allows staff to train in a socially distanced manner. “By leveraging the Relias digital platform, our organization has provided more avenues and time for our employees to obtain their continuing education units and meet their other training requirements.” In addition, Mojado said, “The staff can focus and have more time on patient care as we go through the staffing crisis during this pandemic.” The unique stressors prompted by the pandemic led CalVet to deploy multiple classes on dealing with the coronavirus and how to combat depression or anxiety related to social isolation, said Mojado. Clinical providers have been trained to identify and address mental health issues. “We also provide suicide prevention training for all staff,” he said. Providing an Array of Options for Career Development CalVet’s staff education includes a formal new-employee orientation program and cross-functional training that enables staff to work anywhere in their facility. Additionally, maintenance of professional skills is monitored by checking competencies annually through required annual review. Coaching, mentoring, and providing opportunities for staff to learn new skills and earn certifications for career development are also included in the staff education curricula. For instance, CalVet has a group of RNs participating in Relias Wound Care Education to earn certification. Also of note is the ability to revise existing courses or create new ones, Mojado said. He has found that the Relias system offers a smooth process for revisions as regulations or evidence-based practices change. “Any obsolete module can be easily swapped with updated material.” Training Equips Staff To Excel on Quality Measures Mojado’s nurse educators and training officers work with leadership and staff to achieve the organization’s compliance and quality goals. “Staff training in the healthcare industry is invaluable in improving patients’ well-being and providing a high-quality of care.” Robust compliance and staff development training using Relias’ LMS have helped CalVet achieve 5-star ratings at several of their skilled nursing facilities, said Mojado. “I have seen the direct correlation of enhanced training curricula and how it helps in passing our surveys and inspections and achieving the highest ratings possible. Our recent awards are testaments to the high-quality training and education our staff receives, which are translated to the superior care they provide our veterans.” Recent wins for CalVet include four of their six facilities being awarded five stars by CMS in November 2021, as shown on the Medicare.gov Care Compare website. The locations are: Barstow Chula Vista Fresno Redding Creating an Environment Respecting All People These accolades come amid the ongoing staffing crisis. With the pandemic exacerbating turnover, maintaining staffing is a continual challenge for CalVet. Mojado noted that CalVet makes staff development a priority. “The competition is tough for healthcare organizations competing for the valuable and finite resource called ‘human capital.’ We sometimes forget that these are people with feelings and needs,” Mojado observed. “And we subject them to so many regulatory requirements.” Mojado emphasized that the U.S. veterans whom CalVet serves are a protected group and deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and recognition of their value. As a state-run agency, CalVet is required by law to respect all types of people regardless of their age, race, religion, gender, sexuality, or sexual orientation, Mojado noted. “We have regular anti-discrimination training, and we enforce it strictly,” he said. “Next year, we will be teaching the concept of implicit bias to our staff, and that will become part of our annual training.” CalVet also has a wellness program that incorporates balancing family and work obligations, Mojado noted. By using the Relias Platform and strategically choosing education that supports the particular needs of CalVet’s clients and staff, the agency continues to work toward improvements in the delivery and quality of care, customer service and satisfaction, and employee retention. CalVet’s successes were accomplished under the leadership of the current Deputy Secretary Veterans Homes Coby Petersen, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was appointed by Governor Newsom to transform the veterans’ homes into an effective and integrated healthcare system.