Guest Columns

Are we focused on the right partnerships?

Prentice Lipsey
Prentice Lipsey

As long-term care operators, we are constantly jockeying to become preferred providers for tertiary hospital's post acute care networks. We often over=promise on our ability to prevent returns to acute care hospitals, and sell our once stellar reputations for a chance to receive medically complex patients into our skilled nursing transitional care units, only to realize some cases are admitted to us  too quickly all in the name of maintaining a steady referral stream.  

I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with securing post-acute care partnerships, although you should always vet them. I am recommending, however, that we put equal effort into securing internal relationships, before over promising and under delivering on external ones with hospital systems seeking to prevent bounce backs.

In healthcare, there is the saying that, “quality drives revenue."  This is easier said than done, but it only happens by developing a strong culture of excellence. 

There is a saying: “Better care is achieved through better relationships." It is no longer enough to sell empty promises on how your skilled nursing facility or retirement community is best equipped to manage medically complex patients at every level of care.  If there is no culture of teamwork, education, quality improvement, and a desire for internal joint quality sessions then you may as well not attempt to convince others that you are the right choice.  

As leaders we are charged with the task of shaping organizational culture and rallying our associates to achieve great outcomes. Sharing performance metrics with a team that has not first bought into a culture of quality means absolutely not a thing.  Every now and then a great team of individuals are assembled to accomplish big goals, and to demonstrate their ability to win again and again. In long-term care this presents itself as increased referrals, a perfect health inspection, good quality measures, or low employee turnover. Most important, a team that wins together often stays together. Most champions will tell you that they know what is expected of them and they take great pride in fulfilling their role on the team.  Furthermore, they enjoy spending time with their teammates and begin to anticipate ways to make positive plays.  The more successes a team has together the more productive they are towards achieving goals.  

As Executive Director for St. Leonard, a large continuing care retirement community located in Centerville, OH, I am experiencing what happens when a team is motivated to perform and coached to win. Having already achieved consecutive perfect annual surveys, we are currently implementing processes to further enhance employee engagement via internal joint quality meetings known as Open Forums, employee recognition programs, and Daily Flash Meetings to review resident care and follow through.  

Using the core values of reverence, service, and stewardship to set us apart, our associates are embracing change and accomplishing one goal at a time. By accomplishing internal goals, we are better equipped to market our positive outcomes to post-acute care networks and the community at large.         

Bundling of payment is an inevitable reality as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continues to pilot this new paradigm in the delivery of post acute services. Partnering with hospital systems to achieve external goals will not work without the establishment of an internal culture of bundling success to quality measures. The cornerstone of this type of culture requires teamwork, thus recognizing that customer service includes treating our associate relationships to be as important as our external partnerships.

Prentice Lipsey is the executive director at St. Leonard Retirement Community in Centerville, OH.


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Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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