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Posted: March 23, 2005

Professional Caregiving

Riding High on the American Society on Aging

I am writing this column while on a plane traveling to the National Council on Aging/American Society on Aging conference in Philadelphia. I just left Oklahoma City where the Oklahoma Association for Homes and Services had its annual conference. I had the opportunity to hear the CEO of the National Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, Dr. Larry Minnix, keynote the conference. He presented his vision of the future, which I would like to share with you.

It is no secret the long-term care housing and residential industry is falling apart. Costs are skyrocketing and satisfaction is plummeting. Its one of those good news/ bad news situations. I have just stated the bad news, but the good news is that the industry is acting upon this to hopefully save itself.

This scenario sets the stage for Dr. Minnix?s 12 point-vision of the future for the long- term care industry:

  1. The continuous quality improvement movement, Quality First, will sign a document with providers and staff, volunteers and leadership as a statement of recommitment to quality of life care.
  2. Acknowledgement of the need for culture change. The Pioneer movement, the Eden Alternative, among others, are gaining momentum across the county, and AHASA is committed to reinventing a healthier culture, in which our frailest seniors reside.
  3. Heightened accountability to meet the stated company mission. Greater transparency and open communication among staff/families and residents. Using validated satisfaction surveys is the first step in this process, and many settings do not employ this regularly.
  4. The industry needs to acknowledge the commitment, ?Be Excellent or Be Extinct.?
  5. Evolve into a consumer-focused care model, wherein family concerns or patient concerns are handled openly with all parties as a team process. Facilities must take on the attitude that their best work is dependent on the quality of their family/resident relationship in solving problems when they arise. Legal suits drop precipitously when the management is not at odds with the family, and instead is working with the family to resolve issues to everyone?s satisfaction.
  6. Acknowledgement of the expanded role of the continuum of care and the later admission into nursing homes means more care is being provided in people?s homes. Nursing homes will continue to have higher skilled care and clinical management as the community supports people for longer time periods.
  7. If dollars are authorized for the long-term care industry they should go to enhancing the direct care component first, then professional supervision for quality clinical care and technology. These will bring the industry into the future and keep it competitive with other services in the continuum of care.
  8. With the move to using more managed care packages, the culture shift should be about managed caring.
  9. Community collaborations are integral to keeping abreast of residents? family needs. Making facilities family and children friendly, will increase visitors, increase resident satisfaction and transform the settings to a place where grandchildren look forward to going.
  10. The public/private formula will need to change and this is already seen with Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security policy discussions coming to the forefront of public policy efforts.
  11. Advocacy needs to be about personalizing the issues to the legislators who are making the laws. There must be less talk about numbers, and more about people and the quality of their lives. Bring the conversations to a personal level with decision makers.

I was enthralled to hear the CEO of this national association taking the lead in advancing a culture shift within the industry. This is what leadership is about. Go AHASA!


Sylvia Nissenboim is a licensed clinical social worker and who has been working in the field of adult day services in the St. Louis area. She is the director of four adult care and enrichment centers for the American Red Cross and also operates a personal and professional coaching firm, LifeWork Transitions, specializing in caregiving concerns, adult day care management and other aging services, such as virtual coaching and family care giving support groups. She co-authored The Positive Interactions Program, is a national speaker, and has served as president of the Missouri Adult Day Care Association and as a member of the Missouri Governor's Advisory Council on Aging..

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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