Even if you are not a baseball fan, you are probably familiar with the concept of three-strikes-and-you're-out. There's a certain elegance to the phrase, but it doesn't belong in the courtroom — or in judging nursing homes.
Researchers have concluded that workers are leaving the field in droves. The two main culprits: poor wages and dangerous work conditions.
It's hard to sit on one's hands when caregiving issues are in play. Yet, that's exactly what I'd recommend with regard to at least one initiative aimed at lowering hospital readmissions.
Anyone who doubts the enormous power wielded by frontline caregivers should listen to the premiere episode of "Invisibilia," a new radio show and podcast.
There are growing signs that labor costs will soon be creeping up. That may be good news for the frontline workers and other staff who literally do the heavy lifting. But it's not so great for those who have to make sure payroll is met.
Growing up, we had a saying when we wanted to cross a busy street but couldn't catch a break from drivers. "C'mon," one of us would gamely yell, while pulling the others onto the roadway, "there's safety in numbers!"
I have conflicting feelings about my long-term love for Miss America. There's love and then there's, well, not love. But not for the reasons you might imagine.
Plaintiffs and defendants in nursing home lawsuits might not agree on much, but recent developments suggest they might want to join voices and call for an end to elected judges.
It's a rare facility that doesn't promise job prospects stability, a chance to grow and a supportive work environment. But what happens when an employee feels such promises are merely lip service?
The new Congress hadn't even officially started and already a major fight over stipulations for a new work-week threshold was heating up. Obamacare doesn't have the answer this time.
It would appear that long-term care executives are shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to hiring.
An old parable says that if you're wondering whether acquiring a great new tool or developing a staff member is more important, try putting that tool in the hands of an incompetent worker.
Of all the scourges that hit nursing homes, there is one that always causes me to shudder. It's not pressure ulcers or norovirus, C. diff or MRSA. It's something less dangerous, but that I respond to viscerally because I have experienced it myself: bed bugs. That's why I am so excited by the news that 2015 could a turning point in the war against the pests.
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In honor of Stephen Colbert's recently ended run on Comedy Central, I'd like to address some "truthiness" I've recently spotted, which I believe could harm long-term care residents.
Come next week, you'll be getting lots of advice on how to make good resolutions for 2015. In the spirit of beating the herd, here's my shameless list.
At first blush, providers in other states might feel a bit envious about a proposal being floated in Texas. But they might want to reconsider.
From Jewish Home Lifecare winning a McKnight's Excellence in Technology Award for their project with Panasonic, to attending a session at LeadingAge on telehealth mental services, to moderating a Care Innovations telehealth webinar this week, it's clear more long-term care providers are trying to decipher this enigmatic issue. The big questions from providers, however, tend to be around reimbursement and the equipment.
As the sands of the year race to their finish, there is one certainty about the long-term care news in 2014: It's been wild and trying.
A new long-term care documentary might eventually be called "the cattle prod" because it could be just the nudge needed to unify more communities to build a newer type of care home for the elderly.
It has been more than 2,400 years since Plato demanded to know who will watch the watchmen. The question is suddenly taking on a modern flavor, as nursing homes, hospitals, doctors and other providers line up to decry the practices of Recovery Audit Contractors.
It appears that a federal effort to downsize nursing homes might end up doing just the opposite.
In the dawning age of mega-providers, smaller long-term care chains and independent owners might be inspired by the story of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
Providers get enough pressure about vaccinating their employees. They don't need the hypocrisy dished out by surveyors too.
I was fortunate to be able to spend the past week visiting London, which was a good reminder that perception of weather is partially dependent on where you are from, where you live, and whether you have invested in flannel-lined jeans and sock liners. Similarly, the implications of elopement and wandering among long-term care residents have become more serious.
I have enjoyed a life largely free of the misfortune that time and circumstance can bring. All things considered, it's been a pretty good ride so far. But even the most fortunate among us does not get off scot-free
For just about every skilled nursing facility out there, this is probably a good time to break out the flop sweat. That is, unless the prospect of being culled from one of your most vital revenue streams is nothing to worry about.
If nothing else, federal health officials displayed Monday that they are intent on getting this accountable care organization (ACO) thing right. Or at least closer to "right" than it has been.
The new documentary "Advanced Style" provides inspiring examples of vibrant aging, sharing the stories of older women — some nearing 100 — who continue to push the boundaries of fashion. But I was surprised to find that it also offers a glimpse of a senior care landscape in which older adults increasingly encounter the healthcare system through rehabilitation and home- and community-based services.
In case you were wondering how the largest pilot program for managing dual eligibles is going in California, the short answer is "Not great."
Take whichever side of the argument you want, but you can't disagree that New York state's new flu-vaccine mandate has had a profound effect. By declaring health workers have to wear a facemask during flu season if they aren't vaccinated, the state has compelled more to line up for their shots. Jewish Home Lifecare just might be the most creative. Or bold.
Feed your marketers, they're probably starving. Sorry, this won't be as easy as dialing Domino's ... I don't mean LTC marketing executives are starving for food, but that they are starving for connections with their peers and the chance to glean expert insights into what they do, and how they could do it even better.
While nobody in the field is shouting it from the mountain tops, the long-term care sector has been enjoying more than its share of easy layups lately. That could be coming to an end in the not too distant future.
As Mom used to say, where you stand usually depends on where you sit. That adage seems especially relevant for handling the wishes of residents diagnosed with terminal conditions.
According to a psychologist at the University of Bonn, recognizing people's emotions positively affects income, namely because these people in a business environment are able to care and deal with the emotions of their colleagues.
At first blush, the phrasing seemed like the punch line to a questionable long-term care-related gag. But upon further reflection, it began to sound more and more like an earnest compliment. The government's Nursing Home Compare website is better than others but still ripe for improvement? So true.
Being discharged from a nursing facility to a home- or community-based setting seems like a completely positive development — and the media certainly present it that way. These human interest stories tend to focus on improved health and regained independence. But in reality, these transitions are more complicated.
There's a need to fix what's broken with the Five Star nursing homes-ratings system, and the way to do it is obvious.
President Obama will be unveiling a multi-pronged plan to overhaul the nation's immigration policy, possibly later today. Its most controversial component — a reprieve for the millions who face deportation — could also deliver a huge payoff to senior living operators.
The quickest, and most dangerous, way to dismiss the concept of telemedicine in long-term care is to envision it as a physician or nurse sitting in front of a computer with an elderly resident on the other side. Wrong, just like the notion that telemedicine probably isn't for you.
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There is a memorable scene in the movie "Forrest Gump" when Lt. Dan chews out the well-intentioned title soldier for saluting him while the enemy is likely watching. The implication is that if you want to strike a crushing blow to something, you take out its leader.
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Did a crackpot give the keynote speech at last month's LeadingAge conference?
Following the most expensive and perhaps ugliest campaign season in our nation's history, we watched two leaders who can barely stand the sight of each other predict crimson and clover going forward.
If you are a long-term care operator, the latest report from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization should leave you with mixed feelings.
If there's one critical tool to becoming an exceptional leader, it's not drive, smarts or even likeability. It's the ability to listen.
From the president of the United States to healthcare regulators and providers of all stripe, the focus is increasingly on innovation and creating caregiving alliances. One place in the United States is taking it beyond all others.
Feel like you need to renovate your building to boost resident satisfaction? Here's a tip: Make sure your staff knows the names of all the residents first. And black toilets might not hurt, either.
Tomorrow's the big day. All across this nation, voters will go to the polls to decide thousands of races and issues. But providers should care the most about the various U.S. Senate race outcomes because they could potentially change the way many operators do business.
Long-term care operators have many good reasons to keep resident falls to an absolute minimum. Yet it's amazing how blasé we've become about the damage that falls inflict.
Most people have some quirky food issue, whether it's gagging at the smell of fish or a hatred of condiments. I'll confess mine: I detest raw apples. Apple cider, applesauce, apple pie — they're all OK. But start slicing a regular apple in front of me or bite into one, and it's all I can do to not run out of the room. It's a texture issue, perhaps stemming from years in braces where I felt like I looked like Hannibal Lecter and developed a high level of nerve sensitivity in my teeth.
My first thought was one of concern: What had gone so wrong that one of the most esteemed long-term care providers in New York had to change its name? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? What was broken?
Easier said than done. That phrase often pops into my head when I read the latest long-term care research.
Should we be shocked to hear that the business office manager of a nursing home in Michigan allegedly stole more than $460,000 from a resident? Probably not. And that's not a narrow comment on skilled nursing operators.
The audience member had a question that in previous years would have been found at the corner of Blasphemy and Crazytalk. She wanted to know whether it would be advisable to drop skilled care from her nonprofit organization's portfolio. Not too long ago, that might have been like Toyota asking if it should make cars without seats.
Singing "Amazing Grace" or playing a ukelele version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" may not immediately spring to mind as ways to help staff members grieve after a resident has died, but they were among the musical tributes healthcare professionals shared during a LeadingAge session Wednesday.
As readers of this blog may recall, my expectations for the special screening of the new documentary about music superstar Glen Campbell's journey with Alzheimer's disease were high. Sunday night's star-studded showing and concert were to be unlike anything long-term care professionals had experienced before. And they were.
"Will your app deliver subliminal messages to my residents?" I did not hear that question yesterday while I wandered the expo hall at the annual LeadingAge conference. But perhaps I will next year.
To get an idea of why different fiscal rules seem to apply to the long-term care sector, look no further than Netflix.
It's not hard to see why the Ebola outbreak has so many of us on edge. It's sort of like the proverbial monster under the bed. Except this time, the monster is no figment of our imagination. And now it appears ready to pounce on us.
Good news for career nurses with bachelor's degrees: You're killing it compared to teachers, journalists and high school graduates.
While there seems to be some disagreement over Malcolm Gladwell's posit that doing something for 10,000 hours will make you a master at it, the idea that practice leads at least to improvement has received another shot in the arm. (That would be hospice providers you hear cheering in the background.)
Doctors have a lot to learn about long-term care."Duh," you say? Fair enough. But a newly published study and a just released book really drive the point home.
There is no denying that change is in the air. And I'm not just referring to yesterday's agreement that makes Kindred one of the nation's largest providers of post-acute and home care services.
By the end of the day Tuesday, after a week full of educational sessions, it took a lot to break through the clutter in my brain. That moment happened when Kyle Henderson made a slightly throw-away comment about some providers "investing in chefs, paying them $70-, $80-, $90,000. That's where we are seeing innovation in programming, because dining gives them a chance to impress three times a day."
What do you call a 77-year-old who has worked with — indeed BEEN one of — the most powerful people in the world, traveled the globe extensively, served his country with honor for decades and then charms, compliments and entertains you for over an hour — without the help of a teleprompter? The perfect keynote speaker for your conference, that's what.
Messages about how the long-term care sector exists to serve the neediest and most vulnerable can seem hollow here at the Gaylord National hotel, with its high-end steakhouse and a breathtaking glass atrium offering stunning Potomac River views.
Most of us are all too aware of our professional friends and enemies. But not so much when it comes to our "frenemies." Given the many changes taking place in healthcare today, the frenemy list for many long-term care operators is expanding as never before.
If you went to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care conference for the first time three years ago, as I did, you'd be forgiven for recognizing its importance, but agreeing with the sentiment that it's a "WORM" (White Old Rich Men) crowd.
At the risk of sounding like a common shill, I cannot remember when I've more eagerly looked forward to an annual trade show than the upcoming LeadingAge gathering in Nashville. The main focus of my anticipation? The Oct. 19 world premier screening of "Glenn Campbell ... I'll be me," a powerful documentary about the music superstar who has Alzheimer's disease and now resides in a long-term care facility.
Nursing homes would be put out of business if scientists discover how to stop the aging process, McKnight's Editorial Director John O'Connor wrote in his blog yesterday. But the reverse is also true: Nursing homes would find their beds empty if many seniors were to die earlier in life — because, say, they start refusing antibiotics for common infections, as Ezekiel Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., plans to do once he turns 75.
What if people could remain sound of body and mind into ages of, well, biblical proportions? That elusive goal has captured the imagination of windmill chasers and serious thinkers for time immemorial. The latest seeker of note is not your typical crackpot. Unless a hedge fund manager with a medical degree from Harvard might be considered a crackpot.
For an industry that spends so much time dealing with death, we know surprisingly little.
The reasons to pursue more robust data-crunching activities keep growing. Especially for long-term care providers, who could have a leg up on other providers and payers.
Long-term care providers should take pride in their antipsychotic reduction efforts, and certainly should work hard to meet the new goals announced Friday. But it should not escape their notice that just a day earlier, the White House released an ambitious national plan for addressing antibiotic resistant infections. The plan suggests that a facility's antibiotic stewardship is about to join its antipsychotics rate as a defining feature of quality in the eyes of the government.
Seems like it is was only a few weeks ago that the New York Times was blasting the nursing home industry for playing fast and loose with staffing numbers. Now comes a state-by-state report card that essentially says chronic understaffing is undermining care.
First and foremost, the NIC conference is a conduit that links those with money to those who need it. The event also features informative educational sessions that delve into where the market is now, and what operators need to do in order to compete down the road.
Daily Editors' Notes
McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Staff Writer Tim Mullaney on Tuesday, Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday and Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Thursday.
James M. Berklan
Elizabeth Leis Newman