The first year of the incoming Biden administration is the time to try to make major changes, the former president and CEO of LeadingAge stressed to long-term care stakeholders Friday.

“You have one year to establish a new beachhead of what you want to get done,” Larry Minnix, former CEO and president of LeadingAge, exhorted attendees. He spoke during the last day of the 2020 Annual Summit of the Advancing Excellence in Long-Term Care Collaborative(AELTCC). The conference theme was Mitigating Racial Inequities in Post-Acute & Long-Term Care. 

Attendees brainstormed ways to improve racial equity and fairness among three groups: residents and families, staff and leadership.

Minnix pointed out that during his tenure at LeadingAge, the organization was able to make inroads with then-CMS leader Thomas Hamilton on the culture change movement. In a similar vein, he suggested that attendees approach the incoming (as yet undeclared) leadership of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services with plans to redefine the nursing home and care, address quality issues, and improve racial and class disparities. He recommended that a plan be built around five areas of quality: care, culture, domain, ethical reflection and accountability.

The work of each area would involve improving conditions for staff and residents. For instance, the culture domain would include initiatives to help frontline staff, such as predischarge reviews, and factor in compensation recognition. The domain area would be built around resident-centered care principles inherent in the Green House model and the neighborhoods concept. As an example, mealtime, which is important to a person’s quality of life, should be delivered in a way a specific individual can enjoy it.  

On the front of healthcare disparities in urban and rural areas, Minnix recommended proposing the idea of critical access nursing homes to CMS — similar to the idea of critical access hospitals. The concept is that nursing homes would be critical to the economic and social well-being of the areas in which they serve.

Minnix pointed out that the biggest key to accomplishing big goals is compromise.

“To collaborate, every party has to be willing to give up a measure of their control over things to accomplish something for the greater good,” he said.