The robot revolution

Every once in awhile, I come across a research report that falls into what I like to call the "duh" category. These are the studies that announce the "scientific breakthrough" of something that just seems to me like common sense. The latest study to trigger my duh alarm came with this headline: "Senior citizens may accept robot helpers, but fear robot masters."

Why the field's biggest problem is not going away anytime soon

There are many serious problems in long-term care: funding, regulations, legal concerns, staffing and more. But none of these is the biggest.

Speech plans shouldn't be a hard act to swallow

How do you discuss a speech or swallow-care plan with someone who might not be able to communicate well?

Solution to workforce woes in providers' own hands

Former baseball executive Branch Rickey is famous for bringing Jackie Robinson to the Major Leagues to break the color barrier in 1947. It is especially noteworthy since this is Black History Month, but providers should admire Rickey for another reason as well.

Don't fear the millennials

When you're a young person who began mulling career choices in the midst of the Great Recession, and then went on to pick a profession lovingly referred to as "dying," odds are you'll go to great lengths to ensure that you have a stable job upon college graduation.

Just when you think Medicaid payments couldn't get worse ...

Providers have long-enjoyed a like-hate relationship with Medicaid. Many operators view the program much as a circus trainer might eye a recently acquired wild animal: There's lots of potential, but danger too.

Interviewing — and hiring — millennials

There's a running joke at McKnight's about an interview I conducted with a millennial last year in which the candidate, on a Skype interview, wore a suit. This was notable given how most Skype candidates had opted for a casual look.

When blinding conditions open the eyes

It would be reasonable to think that a storm that caused dozens of deaths and the shutdown of federal government offices is a bad thing, a very bad thing. But you would be only half right.

A potential lawsuit in every worker's pockets?

Here's a pop quiz: Guess which camera now takes the most photos? If you chose Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus or Sony, try again.

Adding life to end-of-life care

As I suspect of most journalists, I'm an eavesdropper. Recently I heard a pizza shop employee say to another employee, "No one was being honest with her," and the other employee said, "I can't believe it. Well, at least she doesn't have kids." It killed me that they started whispering after that.

Study reminds providers about the tough prospect of putting up or stepping aside

My friend Rich admittedly didn't know much about the group of school kids he was about to oversee. But as a business manager, he told me he had his own favorite method of ironing out disagreements between two squabbling parties. Stop the emails, third-party negotiating and excuse-making. Just put them face-to-face in a room together.

Cloudy with chance of flu

For many parts of the United States, this winter has been a weird one — if you can call it a winter at all. Consider it a bonus if you're a long-term care provider.

Tracking antibiotics in LTC

The announcement Thursday of the official end to the deadliest Ebola outbreak on record was cause for a rare public health celebration. It also served as a reminder of the need for better infection prevention and management in healthcare.

Bigger and better than ever: McKnight's Online Expo returns

Try to remember when you were 10 years old. Still a big future ahead of you, but you had already seen a lot and, man, were you ever full of energy!

Get S.M.A.R.T.

Odds are you haven't seen this expert advice to make sure your personal New Year's resolutions — and those for your facility — stick around even after you stop accidentally writing 2015 on your checks.

Knowing when your LTC organization needs to change

An underlying resistance to change continues to persist in this field. How do you know when it's time to fundamentally transform? Actually, there's quite a bit of literature out there on the subject.

Let the people go to work

The news that Pennsylvania may have to loosen its ban on those with criminal histories working in nursing homes could seem scary, but is actually good news.

New year, same you?

Here we are a week into the new year and some smart alecks among us will want to know: Have you kept your New Year's resolutions? Tell them to bugger off. And then grab a mirror.

Your next resident could be a senior ... in college

Where you live in college plays a huge role in the overall college experience, a fact that I'm sure isn't lost on 21-year-old Drake University student Haley Jenkins. On Friday, she moves into Deerfield Retirement Community in Urbandale, IA.

Finding a geriatrician shouldn't require a miracle

So there I was the other night, flipping channels while taking care of holiday chores when I caught my third partial-viewing of "Miracle on 34th Street" this month. No matter how many times I see it, it seems like there's something new to notice — like its connection to long-term care.

What were they thinking?

Whenever stories cross our radar involving nursing home staff posting inappropriate videos or photos of residents on social media, as they have frequently in recent months, one question is bound to follow: What on earth were they thinking?

The good news is that business will be booming ...

A future filled with bad health is hardly something most people would look forward to. But in the same way that convoluted tax codes keep accountants in business, higher per capita care giving needs will aid eldercare operators.

Buffets can teach more than you realize about what consumers think

While talk at parties about bad eating habits, especially at holiday parties, can get tedious. There are lessons to be learned. New research shows us that the guilt involved in all-you-can-eat buffets has ramifications,

What if the guy with the flying reindeer were disabled?

There is something oddly juxtaposed about so many Americans cheerfully reaching out to a jolly, obese man in a red suit at this time of year. Good thing he isn't ill or disabled and in need of skilled nursing care.

A pitch perfect performance

In my high school's theater department, the Wednesday night before a show officially opened was always reserved for a very special occasion: Senior Night. The audience, filled with people's grandparents and busloads of residents from local assisted living apartments, was hands-down one of the most complimentary we would have during the show's run.

A rare opportunity to address the sector's labor woes

It's safe to say that the long-term care field could use lots of workers happy to take entry-level jobs. If only there were a sudden supply of willing people who would salivate at the prospect. As it turns out, such a group of individuals actually exists.

Call of duty

People have busy lives, especially during December. But sakes' alive, if you want to see a group of whiners, show up at jury duty.

Alzheimer's and joy, an unlikely couple

In the news business, we say to look for the different. "Dog bites man" is not an especially enticing story, but "Man bites dog" is. So is "Finding Joy in Alzheimer's."

Let's talk about teamwork (again)

It's no secret that when a team works well together, good things will follow. If you've ever served on a committee, played a team sport or assembled a holiday meal with too many cooks in the kitchen, you know your group's ability to work as a team can make you or break you.

Proving that the ACA challenge can be met

If there's one question sure to put a provider on edge these days, it's this: How do I transition my facility into the world of accountable care organizations? For those who want to see how it can be done, look no further than New Jersey.

Celebrating a facility's history

As we look toward the end of 2015, it's worthwhile to remember the history of nursing homes that have withstood more than a century of immeasurable changes.

National standardized surveys for nursing homes in the works

You kind of get the sense that a government watchdog didn't want to believe the good numbers coming out of its latest research into nursing home care, so it felt the need to introduce uncertainty.

80-year-old's Thanksgiving 'first' worth the wait

For many, traveling is as synonymous with Thanksgiving as turkey, frantic shopping and green bean casserole are. But for one Kentucky nursing home resident, this year's family gathering was far from ordinary. It was a first-ever.

Some Washington institutions more entrenched than others

When it comes to educating their offspring, the richest and most powerful people in Washington have a virtual cornucopia of top-shelf choices. But for sheer cache, Sidwell Friends School stands alone.

Just don't call me late for dinner

There's a wisecrack about getting someone's name right that ends with, "Call me whatever you want, but just don't call me late for dinner." Were it only such a light matter for some earnest seniors housing and care providers and their marketing people.

Hungry for a breakthrough

Study findings that are applicable to people's daily lives, like sleep and exercise, are good. Incorporating emotions or heart, as I've written about previously, works too. But the best way to grab the public's interest is through their stomachs.

For too many in nursing, the thrill is gone

It's generally understood that this sector faces a severe nursing shortage that's likely to worsen. Money alone is not going to make this problem disappear. That's because the real challenge goes beyond take-home pay.

Good news for Medicaid facilities

Nursing homes that take Medicaid beneficiaries or dual eligibles often know they are admitting low-income, chronically ill seniors. Now there is some good news: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it will increase payments for dual eligibles enrolled in one of 12 state-administered demonstration programs.

Guinness was calling and these LTC record breakers answered

A little-known fact in Berklan family lore is that I was once part of a Guinness World Records Book entry. There are press clippings somewhere at the house, but I don't know exactly where.

Paro goes to Hollywood

It's not too often that I see topics that we cover at McKnight's spill over into pop culture. Especially not on a brand new, critically acclaimed Netflix comedy series.

This new budget doesn't pass the smell test

For many operators, the new federal budget is beginning to smell like a rotten onion. And as more of its layers get exposed, the stench keeps getting worse.

Sloan's appointment is a historic moment

While I couldn't be everywhere during LeadingAge, to the best of my knowledge new executive and president Katie Smith Sloan didn't walk across the stage to the tune of a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie quote and a backdrop that said feminist, a la Beyonce.

Teen astounds with solution for wandering monitoring today, Alzheimer's next?

Kenneth Shinozuka modestly aspires to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, and he might be just the guy to do it. He's already created a personal sensoring system that could revolutionize the wandering management industry and he hasn't even finished high school yet.

The stories behind 'Still Alice'

In researching story ideas for McKnight's, I come across a lot of scientific articles on the latest and greatest breakthrough in Alzheimer's disease and dementia research. Unfortunately, between all of the research, clinical trials and peer reviewed papers, something gets lost: heart. And I'm not alone in that feeling.

Who'll pay for long-term care? Some answers that are worth the wait

Providers should be waiting with baited breath for the upcoming announcement of the latest findings of the Pathways project. They might hold solutions to long-term care's payment puzzle.

Understanding Lewy body dementia

The song "Friend Like Me" has popped up pretty frequently on my favorite Pandora station lately, and that's made me sad. It was sung in the movie "Aladdin" by Robin Williams, who committed suicide last year. Now, there might be some good coming out of it.

The secrets to motivating your staff lie here

Americans love rewards. Perhaps nowhere else is the carrot-and-stick strategy put to more frequent or hopeful use than the United States. But 6,000 lucky long-term care providers learned how and why there are far better ways to motivate people Tuesday morning.

Do it for your herd

How do you convince some 50,000 plus college students, faculty and staff to get a flu shot? If you're the university I attended, you hand out stickers with a catchy slogan and a cartoon cow on them.

ICD 10: revenge of the weird and obscure

It was just about a month ago that providers transitioned to the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision - ICD-10. While the early reviews have been decidedly mixed, one thing is for sure: weird and obscure was never like this.

Cute is as cute does

As the leading long-term care professional publication, we know ahead of time that certain columns will provoke conversation and comments. But responses to a column this week about not calling residents "cute" caught me by surprise.

New Parkinson's study something to sniff at — please

Ilja Gort could be dethroned soon, and it may be good for untold number of seniors and other disease victims. The winemaker has the world's "Most Valuable Nose," according to the "Guinness World Records 2015" book.

The curious case of the disappearing CNA

In high school, I had a job working in the foodservice industry, which I strongly believe should be a mandatory part of the teenage experience. It might have helped a recently fired nurses' aide, though probably not for the reason you might be thinking.

This open-and-shut case may leave a bad taste

As we recently reported, a former nursing director recently sued Napa's Piner's Nursing Home. Her allegation is that efforts to have an alleged sex offender removed from the payroll fueled her own termination.

SNF snapshot of trouble

The HCR ManorCare hepatitis C story we ran earlier this week deserves another look, but probably not for the reason you're thinking. Without meaning to, it forcefully reminded us of the power of the visual.

How providers should respond to online complainers

Many things about aging and long-term care are "givens." At the top of the list: People grow older, become less healthy and, sooner or later, die. Pretty tough circumstances to try to build a good working reputation around. In fact, with a uniquely 21st century poison in play, it is harder than ever for providers.

A sticky situation: HCR ManorCare's court filing

HCR ManorCare's court filing against Trinity Health Services is full of snippets that left me either scratching my head or flat out disgusted.

Why Volkswagen should serve as a cautionary tale

In at least one important way the embattled auto maker Volkswagen and long-term care providers are perhaps not so different.

Settlement teaches lessons on resident monitoring

After awhile in this business, it's easy to become skeptical of family members suing after a loved one dies. Many times, these relatives have no understanding of underlying health conditions — or they might be trying to overcompensate in grief after not having visited. Then, however, there are also the occasional lawsuits where you totally understand where the family is coming from.

Four times the flu fun

Mixed emotions is the best way to describe my feelings about super-powered flu vaccinations. Just like anyone else, I like to know I'm getting a good return on my buck.

Go get your audience (before Kanye West does)

When you ask seniors for their take on twerking, Kanye West and social media, you're bound to get some colorful answers.

Staying on the right side of compliance

In the 403-page Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed rule, there has been a lot of discussion around arbitration, quality and education. But buried within also are new regulations around compliance programs.

Leadership becomes McChrystal clear

Although I haven't played it much lately, I like the game of golf as a good analogy for task management, or simply getting through life's day-to-day challenges. It doesn't matter if you've ever played, or even like the game. Among other things, it also has noteworthy implications about your leadership style.

A snapshot of successful dementia surveys

I firmly believe the old saying that a picture's worth a thousand words. But for every strong, visual message photograph conveys, there are dozens of more messages that it doesn't, or can't, get across.

This 'crackdown' should really melt your cheese

Can someone please tell me exactly what "melty cheese" is? The product exists in commercials but is apparently not to be found elsewhere. And as far as I can tell, no state regulators are cracking down on firms lauding it — something that does not actually exist. Lucky them.

SNF therapy billing controversy rises from the dead

Despite my love of Halloween, there is one component of it that is distinctly not for me: Horror movies. Still, I'm enough of a pop culture enthusiast that I can appreciate those with an appetite for scary movies and their sequels. If you want to watch the 10 "Halloween" movies or six versions of "Paranormal Activity," I'm not going to judge you. (Much.)

Who takes care of the healthcare worker?

Like observers of a mother driving herself to exhaustion and sickness by taking care of her children day after day, U.S. providers are seeing measured declines in their caregivers. The numbers reveal just how bad it is.

Home sweet home — in the right mood

Moving is always exciting to me. This isn't because I enjoy the stressful process of apartment hunting and packing my life away into boxes like a real-life game of Tetris, because, let's face it, I don't.

Feeling threatened at work? You're probably a woman

Who has the most dangerous jobs in America? Police officers? Fire fighters? Loggers?

Nursing shortage might not be as dire as feared

For the past decade, healthcare experts, including those in long-term care, have been drumming the beat of a looming nursing shortage. A new study details why the shortage might not be as terrible as feared.

Hospitals' plea will soon be nursing homes'

I was truly surprised when I didn't hear long-term care leaders excitedly jumping around, yelling, "See! See! Us too! Us too!" last week. It was a simple report, sure, but one that should have sent the frantic-meter bouncing.

Want better outcomes? Work less

It's no wonder that the latest experiment in shorter, more efficient work days comes out of Europe.

Nuns against the neighbors, and NIMBY takes the lead

I first heard about the sisters of Fraternite Notre Dame last winter, when two boilers broke down at a church they were running on Chicago's West Side. The public ultimately came to their rescue then. A different crowd, however, is now quashing its dreams of expanding into long-term care service.

The start of fall, the end of falls

You have to hand it to the folks at the National Council on Aging, and their affiliated partners. They really know how to tastefully make light of a harrowing situation.

You've got mail — and some work to do

"We don't do email." At first I wasn't sure if I heard the person on the other end of the phone correctly. Here was a long-term care provider in this, the year 2015, who didn't use email. At all.

Long-term care providers selling health insurance? Don't laugh

Signature HealthCARE is known as a high-end provider of skilled care services. Starting next month, it will also begin selling health insurance. As unusual as that might seem, it may not be long before additional operators are following suit.

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 Emily Mongan.

    Contributors

    James M. Berklan
    Editor

    Elizabeth Leis Newman
    Senior Editor

    John O'Connor
    Editorial Director

    Emily Mongan
    Staff Writer

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