Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D.

There’s nothing like the first time you get to meet people, attend education sessions and see the exhibit hall at the American Health Care Association, as I found out last week.

10/5/14, 2 p.m. — I just arrived in D.C. on the Bolt Bus. $40 round-trip from New York City. You can’t beat it with a stick. Now I have to get over to my hotel room and get ready to meet McKnight’s Editor Jim Berklan.

9:30 p.m. — Just came back from dinner with McKnight’s staff members Jim Berklan, John O’Connor, and Tim Mullaney. Really nice guys, really into long-term care. It made me proud to be part of McKnight’s.

10/6/14, 3 a.m. – I can’t sleep.

3:30 a.m. — I just downloaded the AHCA app. Very handy how I can see what programs are available and send them to my calendar.

6 a.m. — Time to get up and get ready for the convention!

8 a.m. — I’m sitting in the session led by Denise Boudreau-Scott, MHA, LNHA, on “Creating the Ultimate Customer Service Experience.” I can download her slides from the app!

9 a.m. — The talk confirmed my perceptions around customer service. I ran into an administrator I used to work with who said how hard it was to create the “ultimate customer service experience.” He should have asked me. I had plenty of suggestions for him. Instead I said, “Mmmm,” the classic noncommittal psychologist response. I’ll bet a lot of shrinks working in long-term care have great ideas for their facilities.

11:30 a.m. — Just heard General Colin Powell speak! He was witty, self-deprecating, on topic, and pointed in his criticism of current Washington politics. I’m very impressed.

1:30 p.m. — I’m in the expo hall now and OMG!!! I’m so excited. I finally got the chance to ride in a patient care lift after years of wanting to try one. (Thanks, ArjoHuntleigh staff.) Now I see what my residents have been talking about. A newer lift has a better angle than an earlier model and almost swaddles the rider, creating a sense of security lacking in the traditional device. Plus, it allows a person to be weighed in the lift instead of having to be transferred to the scale. Of course it costs more. But it seems worth it in terms of customer experience and staff time and effort saved in the weighing process.

2 p.m. — I just talked to an M.D. about his “Pee Pocket” product, which is a single-use paper funnel that allows individuals to stand while urinating instead of sitting when that would be painful for them. It directs the flow of urine into the toilet.

2:15 p.m. — Pee Pocket verdict: It works! This would be great to take on a camping trip. If I were the kind of person who camped. I’ll tell the rehab people about it.

2:30 p.m. — I locate the Green House Project booth on my AHCA app and pay them a visit. They tell me about their Boston-area facility that allows increased independence for residents with ALS. Go, Green House!

2:45 p.m. — A nice lady from Reliant Renal Care Home Choice just explained how having an in-house dialysis program requires only 500 square feet of space and allows residents to spend two hours on dialysis five days a week instead of the typical three to five hours a day, three days a week, plus the time for transport to the dialysis program. Residents feel better, have improved health outcomes, reduced hospital admissions and can easily work dialysis into their daily schedule. Financing in-house dialysis is balanced by eliminating the costs of transportation and labor for the aide accompanying them to the off-campus dialysis program. It didn’t seem like a big moneymaker, but instead a huge leap of customer service and a way of distinguishing a facility from the competition.

3 p.m. – Darn, the expo hall is closing up and I’ve got to get back to the Bolt Bus and go home. What a blast! I hope I can get to AHCA again next year!

Eleanor Feldman Barbera, PhD, author of The Savvy Resident’s Guide, is a 2014 Award of Excellence winner in the Blog Content category of the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence program. She also is the Gold Medalist in the Blog-How To/Tips/Service category of the 2014 American Society of Business Publication Editors Midwest Regional competition. A speaker and consultant with nearly 20 years of experience as a psychologist in long-term care, she maintains her own award-winning website at MyBetterNursingHome.com.