Meet Holly Harmon. You may know her as the Senior Vice President of Quality, Regulatory & Clinical Services at the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living.

You’ll notice that in addition to her title, Holly’s name comes with an impressive slate of letters indicating her achievements and expertise in the long term and post-acute care sector: RN, MBA, LNHA, FACHCA. Provider spoke with Holly to better understand how her background and insights impact her role working on behalf of providers everywhere.

In your experience, how does quality care inform industry regulations, and how do regulations inform quality care?

It is varied. Some regulations can provide a framework for delivering aspects of quality care; however, inflexible regulations deter from quality care as creativity and individualization are at the core of delivering quality care. Regulations that are paperwork or task centered often create “check the box” responses and detract valuable time from being present with the person and delivering the quality care they deserve. More regulations do not equal better quality and can have unintended effects hindering quality.

Intent exists to connect regulation and quality care; however, there continues to be a number of gaps in how regulations are formulated, implemented, and evaluated that undermine foundational principles of quality. Regulation should be an enabler for quality care, not a restriction.  Improved approaches would include: 1) actively engaging the people closest to the work as well as the people receiving the care/services and truly listen to and incorporate their ideas; 2) foster learning and development of regulators and providers together, building shared interest in optimizing the regulation for what it is intended to do for quality care; 3) shift from failure-focused evaluation (survey process) to identify what is working correctly and destigmatize human error—both of which are characteristics of high reliability organizations.

How does your background as both a registered nurse and a licensed nursing home administrator impact the way you serve the sector as Senior Vice President of Quality, Regulatory & Clinical Services at AHCA/NCAL?

I have been blessed with a multitude of professional opportunities and experiences, and I’m proud that I “grew up” in post-acute and long term care starting as a CNA 26 years ago. My heart is and will always be with the residents living in and staff working in the centers and communities across the nation.

I have immense respect for individuals in our profession. Having walked in similar shoes, I know firsthand both what an honor and what a challenge it is serving on the frontline and in leadership roles in post-acute and long term care.

I will serve in this role with similar spirit to my previous roles, centered on the people I work with and for, doing my best to make a difference in their lives and always striving to make meaningful improvements. I am grateful to continue to learn and be inspired by the incredible commitment and passion that I see and hear every day from our members despite all odds against them at times—they see the faces of their residents and staff and push forward for them. I will do the same.

In your opinion, how can providers be active in shaping the quality and/or regulatory landscape of the long term and post-acute care sectors?

Get involved with your state association and on a national scale with AHCA/NCAL. Let your voice be heard. Share your stories and help others share theirs. Keep making a positive difference in the lives of the people you serve, one person at a time. ​