A tip of the cap to long-term care providers trying to get it right

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
Quit your whining.

That was my initial gut reaction when the sniping started. It might have subsided a bit but not much.

It seems there are at least a few critics of the AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award program out there. This is the recognition program put forth by the biggest nursing home association in the country (the American Health Care Association) and its sister division (the National Center for Assisted Living).

No fewer than 458 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities from across the country were announced as winners last week. The distribution of Gold (2), Silver (52) and Bronze (404) seemed proudly appropriate, I thought. Just enough carrot to get the big prize, but also no dearth of glitter and streamers at the lowest level.

Naturally, someone has a problem with somebody in the 458. I'm guessing the sneering comments overheard, or seen under a story at mcknights.com, were from someone numbered 459 or much, much lower.

And whose fault is that? Whether or not the awards are influenced by “creative application writing” is not the point. There still has to be some “there” there for recognition to be given. The awards program is 16 years old and is guided by distinct criteria for each of the levels. Presumably AHCA/NCAL is not into perpetrating wholesale fraud on its own dues-paying members.

The folks at Grand Islander Center in Middletown, RI, and Continental Manor in Abbotsford, WI, are not receiving Gold designation for their creative writing skills. In fact, those two facilities have only 11 other peers in gaining the top-tier recognition — in the history of the program. That's an average of less than one Gold winner per year.

The Bronze-Silver-Gold ladder is a nice format that keeps coaxing providers to better levels of care. Gold doesn't come without Silver, and Silver doesn't arrive without Bronze first.

And Bronze doesn't arrive at all if you don't make an effort. Not just to toot your own horn, either — though, face it, that's part of any awards program like this. Beat your chest a little, but do so realizing you're under the microscope.

No, you also have to get your act together and become worthy of recognition like this in the first place. Do something of commendable quality. Get recognized for it.

And then realize you're marked. Winning recognition like this isn't the end of anything. It's the beginning of having to prove your credibility and high quality care over and over — for as long as someone can remember you won this distinction, in fact.

For a full list of 2012 Quality Award recipients, visit www.ahca.org.

If you don't see your facility's name on the list, you have just one soul-searching question to ask: Why isn't it there?


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.