Nursing homes have important tools at their disposal to help prevent rehospitalizations among their own residents, a leading advocate told McKnight’s at last week’s LeadingAge annual meeting.

Cheryl Phillips, M.D., LeadingAge’s senior vice president for advocacy, told McKnight’s Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ new quality assurance and process improvement (QAPI) program seeks to find out what individual nursing homes are doing to prevent hospitalizations.

“It’s not prescriptive, but it says: ‘We want to know what you are doing to define process improvement for better quality,’” Phillips said.

She emphasized that hospitalizations of nursing home residents put stress on everyone, including residents, their families and caregivers. They also can be risky for residents who are very ill and are on several medications

But quality nursing home care and rehospitalization prevention starts with nursing home staff, Phillips emphasized.

Facilities need to ask themselves: “Do we have consistent assignment in direct care staff? Do we have true, rich training information and engagement for our staff so that they know the roles and accountabilities? With an engaged, empowered, well-trained support staff, we can do miracles,” Phillips said.

Click on the video above to watch the interview with Dr. Phillips.