Nursing home chains take worthy quality steps

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Two privately held nursing home chains went public this week with smart quality and resident care initiatives. The moves are worth touting – particularly in light of the scrutiny and bad press that have bombarded the for-profit skilled nursing sector since the beginning of the year.

First, HCR ManorCare disclosed that it has created an independent advisory committee on quality. The committee’s task is to provide advice and recommendations to the company’s board of directors “on ways to measure, maintain and improve quality of care for HCR ManorCare patients and residents.”

The panel is composed of three highly respected experts: Vincent Mor, a Brown University professor who was one of the authors of the Minimum Data Set (MDS) for Nursing Home Resident Assessment; Robyn Stone, who leads the Future of Aging Services at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging; and Gail Wilensky, who was formerly administrator of what is now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

These three heavy hitters can no doubt offer some valuable advice that will help to improve the public image of the beleaguered nursing home chain. As you may recall, the Service Employees International Union earlier this year mounted a massive assault on the chain’s purchase by the global private equity firm, The Carlyle Group. Its boycott stalled the purchase for several months.

Golden program

Another smart business decision emerged this week from Golden Living. It unveiled a fully integrated program to manage diabetes for its nursing home residents, more than 30% of whom suffer from the disease.

A consultant and staff have developed six training modules: understanding diabetes, nutrition, oral medication therapy, injected medication therapy, hypoglycemia treatment, and skin and lower extremity care. Each module contains documents to train the medical staff.

The program is being tested around the country and will eventually expand to most of the company’s 329 LivingCenters. This initiative is one of several that the chain, formerly known as Beverly Enterprises Inc., has implemented since it was taken public in 2006.

Clearly, these two companies have been paying attention to the quality accusations that have been volleyed at them and their for-profit brethren. It’s good to see that they have not shrunk from the criticism, but have taken it as a call to arms of sorts.

Kudos to ManorCare and Golden Living. Their initiatives are the kinds of steps that residents, families and staff – and critics of the field – will reward.

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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 Marty Stempniak.