Janet Snipes, Executive Director, Holly Heights

Holly Heights Nursing Center in Denver has demonstrated dramatic reductions in the use of antipsychotic use in recent years. Janet Snipes, whose been with the home for more than 40 years, says there is one crucial component to their success.

“The secret ingredient is staff engagement and buy-in, to get them all to have the drive, commitment and dedication to want to improve quality,” Executive Director Janet Snipes told McKnight’s. “All it takes is that one resident who you have made that huge difference for in their life. When staff see that, they become the champions of quality and the drivers to continually pursue excellence.”

The nursing facility has been able to drop the percentage of residents receiving antipsychotics from 19.6% in 2013 down to just 1.7% in the year that followed. They’ve been able to maintain that low rate ever since.

The 133-bed nursing facility found many residents on the drugs often had behavioral problems. Holly Heights drilled down into those details to understand the root causes. They  came up with non-pharmacological interventions to address behavioral issues, tailored to each individual resident. Those included warm blankets, cups of tea and listening to music.

She gave the example of one resident who was withdrawn, and on multiple antidepressants and antipsychotics. Since weaning her off those medications, the woman has become a completely different, vibrant resident who now participates in their resident council, greets people at the door and takes part in activities.

“When you see the difference this makes in people’s lives, it really fans the flames of your passion for quality,” Snipes said.

Since 1996, only 38 long-term care providers have won the AHCA’s Gold Award.

Holly Heights will be honored for those and other quality gains in October, when it receives the prestigious 2018 Gold Excellence in Quality Award from the American Health Care Association. Since 1996, only 38 long-term care providers have received the award, which is based on the core values and criteria of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

Snipes said she would like to continue to pursue quality gains and hopes Holly Heights can one day win the Baldrige award. She encourages other providers to never stay proud of their latest achievements.

“Keep on the journey, never give up, and keeping working on it. It’s worth it,” she said. “It’s not just about the award, it’s about what we’ve done for our residents. It’s so much more than an award.”