Consumer group takes on long-term care field

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The group formerly known NCCHNR is known for butting heads with nursing home associations. As it expands its advocacy mission, more long-term care providers are likely to feel the heat.

The organization, which has worked on behalf of nursing home residents and consumers, said this week that it will represent consumers and residents in assisted living and home care, in addition to nursing homes. It also has changed its name to the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice, for short).

“While the Consumer Voice's work has historically been in nursing homes, we're expanding to meet changing needs for long-term care,” Consumer Voice Board President Norma Atteberry, RN, said.

Under its new name and mission, Consumer Voice said it plans to tackle several issues. These include, according to a statement from the group: "reauthorization of the Older Americans Act; implementation of long-term care provisions in the health care reform law, including nursing-home transparency, elder justice and criminal background checks on workers; development of policy on non-nursing-home settings, including assisted living; promoting a high-quality and effective long-term care workforce; strengthening oversight and enforcement; and promoting long-term care quality initiatives."

This is a tall order, and indicates a focus on the broader long-term care field. Hopefully, the new emphasis will raise awareness about care challenges in other settings.

Consumer Voice traditionally has been tough on nursing homes. It was a major proponent of transparency requirements in the healthcare reform law. It also believes in background checks for nursing home workers. Many providers are not keen on either.

While it's true that many nursing homes are far from perfect in the care they deliver, other long-term care settings, such as home care, have problems too. Home-care workers, as an example, may not be equipped to handle acute-care situations. And homes may lack the necessary equipment to handle more acute-care cases.

It's important for consumers to know this. When loved ones need Medicaid-funded long-term care, nursing homes are often the best places to deliver it.

What's in a name?

Name changing appears to be the trend in long-term care these days. That is a good development, given how healthcare is awash in alphabet soup … CMS, HHS, RUGs, MDS, PPS … 

Expect a new moniker soon from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (a real mouthful of a title). The organization said at its annual conference last year it was researching a new name. One criteria is it has to be shorter.

Consumer Voice is not a bad example to follow. It's easy to say and can't be reduced to a series of letters. It certainly trips off the tongue easier than "National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform," the previous name.

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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 Emily Mongan.

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