Monday, August 1, 2016

Managing Your Time

Without time management skills, a hospice Chaplain is without focus and will invariably miss face to face visits with several patients each month.  That highlights the reality that time management and patient care go hand in hand.


Hospice Chaplaincy is governed by several realities and expectations:

1.  All patients must have an initial comprehensive spiritual assessment completed by the 5th day after admission. (the day of admission counts as the first day.)

2.  If the patient/family requests deferring the assessment visit, you must document this in Clinical Notes.

3.  If the patient is being readmitted and has had an initial comprehensive spiritual assessment completed within the last 14 days and no significant change in the patient spiritual status has occurred; you do not need to repeat the assessment.


Based on these Medicare requirements, it is absolutely incumbent that the Chaplain have direction and focus in his/her work; thus, the need for time management skills.


In addition, some Chaplains are responsible for more than one team.  Management of these caseloads demands the type of focus time management brings.


Our day begins at 8 AM and concludes at 4:30 PM.  We take 30 minutes for lunch, so that leaves us with 8 hours to do our work which includes documentation. 


There are various ways to manage your caseload and the time involved to see each patient.  Our goal is to visit 20 patients per week. 


Since 20 patients is our goal, then we need to map out a strategy.  Use your Scheduler function on Allscripts for two weeks at a time.  This will help your strategy to take form.


  • List the patients you for whom you are providing spiritual care. 
  • Place them on your Scheduler for the next two weeks.  Keep in mind your productivity goal of 20 per week.  Patient care is primary that is why we see them 1-2 times per month.
  • As you are building your calendar, leave room for IDT, calling new admits and scheduling visits for them and other meetings as they come up.  The calendar is not to be seen as something rigid, but rather as a fluid document that accommodates change. 
  • Realities:  There will be days a patient declines a visit.  Simply pull a patient from another day to fill in.  There will be visits that go long.  Call the next patient and explain you are running late and provide a time you believe you will be at their home.  There will be times when a facility patient is out of their room for some activity or other reason.  Make other visits in the facility and come back to that one.  The idea is to maximize your time at each facility.
  • Geographically locate your patients and focus on seeing patients from that area on a particular day or two. 
  • Monitor your time.  Many patients and caregivers are up by 9 AM.  Use the 8-9 AM hour to organize your schedule.  Begin calling at 9 AM and set your visits for the day.  If you have both facility and home patients, schedule the facility patients in the morning as they could be more alert in the morning hours.  Schedule home patients in late morning and throughout the afternoon.  Do your best to have your documentation completed by 4:30 PM so you can enjoy your family and have a pleasant evening.
    Time management will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.  You will look back over the week and see what great work you have done in providing quality spiritual care to your patients and their caregivers. 

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