AHCA convention attendees urged to rise up in face of looming funding cuts; better moderate use of antipsychotics

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AHCA convention attendees urged to rise up in face of looming funding cuts; better moderate use of a
AHCA convention attendees urged to rise up in face of looming funding cuts; better moderate use of a
Long-term care providers were given the truth during the opening session of the 63rd annual convention of the American Health Care Association: More funding cuts are on the way. Among the other hot topics discussed during educational sessions Monday at the Tampa Convention Center were the use of antipsychotics and avoidable rehospitalizations.

A large portion of the 3,000 attendees listened intently as AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson implored members to pursue the association's goals.

“We must win the quality battle, and that is not enough,” Parkinson said. “Under any scenario, we are going to be facing additional cuts. The people who can deliver our message best is you.”

In one of the day's best-attended sessions, providers were told that if they are providing antipsychotics to their residents, they should do so with caution. Start first with non-pharmacologic alternatives, advised Cornelia Beck, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the College of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. These may include music therapy -- which a 2004 study showed decreased irritability in 23 participants with moderate to severe dementia -- and lemon balm, which reduced agitation and increased the time 71 residents with severe dementia spent engaged in activities. Other possible evidence-based approaches include exercise, therapeutic recreation and validation.

Meanwhile, the effort by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reduce rehospitalizations offers opportunities for post-acute providers, explained Doug Pace, the executive director of Long-Term Quality Alliance. CMS's goal is to provide “better care, better healthcare and lower costs,” Pace reminded during his presentation, “Fostering Community Linkages to Improve Care Transitions and Reduce Hospital Readmissions.”

“You're the people in the room who can save acute care money,” Pace noted. “What's in it for you? More referrals [and] it could actually help your census.”

The Tampa gathering kicked off Sunday with themed events observing NCAL Day, so-named after an AHCA sister group, the National Center for Assisted Living. The convention continues through Wednesday.

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