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National Assisted Living Week Theme Revealed for September Celebration<p>​The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) said “Compassion, Community, Caring&quot; is this year's theme for National Assisted Living Week<sup>®</sup>. The annual, national observance—officially sponsored by First Quality in 2021—provides a unique opportunity for residents, their loved ones, staff, volunteers, and local communities to celebrate the individuals who live and work in assisted living and learn more about this sector of long term care.</p><p>“This year's National Assisted Living Week is special because of everything we have faced over the past year,&quot; said NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle. “'Compassion, Community, Caring' reflects the hard work and dedication of all the essential caregivers in assisted living communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also represents the importance of family and remaining connected, even when we could not physically be together.&quot;</p><p>Established by NCAL in 1995, National Assisted Living Week (NALW) will be held Sept. 12-18. “Compassion, Community, Caring&quot; encourages assisted living communities around the country to host a variety of events that honor the individuals who reside, work, and volunteer in these communities while adhering to infection control requirements and precautions in place for COVID-19.</p><p>“First Quality is honored to be the official sponsor of National Assisted Living Week in 2021,&quot; said Shelley Bache, First Quality Healthcare Leader. “After one of the most challenging years ever, it is imperative to remember and celebrate those in assisted living communities who did so much in the midst of so many unknowns. This week is a time to come together in a safe way and recognize the 'Compassion, Community, Caring' that could not be stopped by a pandemic.&quot;</p><p>In the coming months, NCAL said it will issue a planning guide and products centered on ways to celebrate the week's theme. Participants are asked to share their celebrations throughout the week on social media with the hashtag #<strong>NALW</strong>.</p><p>Visit <a href="http&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/NALW" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org/NALW</a> for updated information and resources.​<br></p><p>​</p>2021-05-17T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/nalw_2021.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Caregiving;WorkforcePatrick Connole​Week to reflect the hard work and dedication of all essential caregivers in assisted living during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CMS Issues New Vaccine Requirements for Nursing Homes <p>The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on May 11 issued an <a href="https&#58;//www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2021-10122/medicare-and-medicaid-programs-covid-19-vaccine-requirements-for-long-term-care-facilities-and?cm_ven=ExactTarget&amp;cm_cat=Interim+Final+Rule+on+COVID-19+Vaccine+Requirements+for+LTCF+and+ICFs-IID&amp;cm_pla=All+Subscribers&amp;cm_ite=Interim+Final+Rule+on+COVID-19+Vaccine+Requirements.&amp;cm_lm=pconnole%40ahca.org&amp;cm_ainfo=&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;">Interim Final Rule on COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements. </a>The rule applies to residents, clients, and staff of Long Term Care (LTC) facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs-IID) and focuses on new education and data-gathering initiatives tied to the vaccination effort. </p><p>CMS also published a <a href="https&#58;//www.cms.gov/files/document/qso-21-19-nh.pdf?cm_ven=ExactTarget&amp;cm_cat=Interim+Final+Rule+on+COVID-19+Vaccine+Requirements+for+LTCF+and+ICFs-IID&amp;cm_pla=All+Subscribers&amp;cm_ite=QSO+memo&amp;cm_lm=pconnole%40ahca.org&amp;cm_ainfo=&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;">QSO memo </a>to state survey agencies on how to operationalize this new requirement. The rule is scheduled to go into effect on May 21, which is 10 days from its publication in the <em>Federal Register. </em></p><p>This rule specifies that LTC facilities must develop and implement policies and procedures to&#58; </p><p>•&#160;Educate all residents and staff about COVID-19 vaccines; </p><p>•&#160;Offer vaccination to all residents and staff; and </p><p>•&#160;Report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) certain data regarding vaccination status for residents and staff as well as any therapeutic treatments (for example, monoclonal antibody use). Note that this requires additional reporting via NHSN modules&#58; reporting the Resident Therapeutics Pathway found on <a href="https&#58;//www.cdc.gov/nhsn/ltc/covid19/index.html?cm_ven=ExactTarget&amp;cm_cat=Interim+Final+Rule+on+COVID-19+Vaccine+Requirements+for+LTCF+and+ICFs-IID&amp;cm_pla=All+Subscribers&amp;cm_ite=COVID-19+LTCF+Module%2c&amp;cm_lm=pconnole%40ahca.org&amp;cm_ainfo=&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;">COVID-19 LTCF Module, </a>as well as reporting via the <a href="https&#58;//www.cdc.gov/nhsn/ltc/weekly-covid-vac/index.html?cm_ven=ExactTarget&amp;cm_cat=Interim+Final+Rule+on+COVID-19+Vaccine+Requirements+for+LTCF+and+ICFs-IID&amp;cm_pla=All+Subscribers&amp;cm_ite=Weekly+HCP+and+Resident+COVID-19+Vaccination+Module.&amp;cm_lm=pconnole%40ahca.org&amp;cm_ainfo=&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;&amp;">Weekly HCP and Resident COVID-19 Vaccination Module. </a></p><p>Additionally, CMS said ICF-IID facilities must educate all clients and staff about COVID-19 vaccines and offer vaccination to all clients and staff. The agency said reporting is not required for ICFs-IID; however, CMS strongly encourages voluntary reporting. </p><p>In response, David Gifford, MD, chief medical officer of AHCA/NCAL, said the LTC profession has been supportive of publicly reporting COVID-19 vaccination rates in long term care since the vaccines were first approved, and it greatly appreciates CMS taking this step today. </p><p>“Reporting vaccination rates is critical to facilitating in-person visitations in nursing homes, tracking the effectiveness of the vaccines, and helping ensure the industry meets our goal to vaccinate 75 percent of staff by the end of June,” he said.<br></p><p>Gifford also said “it is important that we not judge facilities with low vaccination rates, but instead seek to understand whether additional resources or outreach can be done to encourage more staff and residents to get the vaccine, or help facilities acquire additional vaccines for new patients and hires.”<br></p><p>He said the LTC profession believes transparency on vaccination rates should be expanded to all Medicare providers, including hospitals, home health, and inpatient rehabilitation facilities, where many seniors may also receive care and the virus can still remain a threat. <br>“All Medicare providers should have a streamlined effort to report their vaccination rates,” Gifford said.</p><p>The comment period for the interim final rule closes July 12. CMS is also requesting feedback on the feasibility of implementing similar requirements in other long term care settings that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments, including assisted living.</p>2021-05-11T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/vaccination.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />COVID-19Patrick ConnoleThe rule requires that providers educate residents, staff about COVID vaccine and report data on status.
Nursing Homes See Occupancy Bump Higher in Latest NIC Data<p>Nursing home occupancy levels increased to 71.2 percent in February 2021 compared to 70.7 percent from the previous month, according to NIC MAP® data prepared and released by NIC MAP Vision, which are both products of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC).</p><p>This brought the occupancy rate back to its December 2020 level. Despite the February improvement, occupancy remains 13.7 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level, NIC said.</p><p>The February NIC MAP occupancy data are starting to reinforce trends from other data sources. COVID-19 case counts at skilled nursing facilities are down 98 percent since December 2020 and the launch of the long term care vaccination program, <a href="https&#58;//blog.nic.org/cases-among-skilled-nursing-facility-residents-falling-despite-rising-rates-among-the-general-population">according to NIC. </a></p><p>Additionally, more than four in five operators in senior housing and skilled nursing are reporting an increase in lead volume since the beginning of the year, according to NIC’s latest <a href="https&#58;//blog.nic.org/executive-survey-insights-wave-26">Executive Survey Insights.</a></p><p>“February’s NIC MAP data underscore what some skilled nursing facility operators have been saying the past few months&#58; They are starting to see occupancy stabilization,” said Beth Burnham Mace, NIC’s chief economist. “Data from the next few months will be extremely important, as it will signal whether this is the start of a longer trend toward recovery.”</p><p>NIC MAP data powered by NIC MAP Vision show traditional Medicare revenue per patient day was steady at $555, but the share of Medicare revenue declined to 23.4 percent from 25.1 percent in January. The share of Medicare Advantage revenue increased to 11.1 percent, up from its pandemic low of 8.3 percent in May of 2020.</p><p>“Hospitals resuming elective surgeries and discharging patients to skilled nursing facilities may be responsible for greater share of Medicare Advantage revenue, thereby boosting occupancy,” said Bill Kauffman, senior principal at NIC. “Occupancy is still near historic lows, and many facilities will need to see substantial increases in occupancy in order to stabilize the balance sheet.”</p><p>NIC said as nursing homes begin to move beyond the pandemic, occupancy is an important indicator of recovery. Older adults continue to need an array of options for long term care, given personal preferences and health and mobility status. These include institutional settings for people with acute or multiple chronic conditions or mobility challenges and home- and community-based options, NIC said.<br>Click here to access the latest<a href="https&#58;//info.nic.org/nic-map-skilled-nursing-data-monthly-report"> NIC MAP skilled nursing data.</a><br></p>2021-05-10T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0220_News1.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Management;COVID-19Patrick ConnoleMore than 80 percent of senior housing, skilled nursing operators report increase in lead volume.
Washington State Nursing Homes Grow Gardens to Nurture Residents<p>Seven Washington state skilled nursing facilities will receive two Eldergrow indoor therapeutic sensory gardens each, along with Eldergrow’s therapeutic horticulture program, as part of a state and federally funding program aimed at providing therapy for residents, notably those with dementia. </p><p>Seattle-based Eldergrow offers therapeutic gardening programs to seniors in residential and skilled communities. With this new partnership, the company said residents at Lake Ridge Center and Columbia Crest Center in Moses Lake, Wash., Orchard Park in Tacoma, Wash., Ballard Center in Seattle, Montesano Healthcare &amp; Rehab in Montesano, Wash., Linden Grove Center in Puyallup, Wash., and Everett Center in Everett, Wash., are now able to nurture a lush indoor garden from the safety of their community.</p><p>The Therapeutic Horticulture Program includes an indoor, mobile garden filled with fragrant and colorful plants that provide sensory stimulation and reminiscing opportunities for residents. The program includes an Eldergrow Educator who conducts interactive classes and garden maintenance twice a month. <br></p><p>The indoor gardens are constructed in partnership with a job training program that employs and trains veterans and adults living with disabilities. The gardens include a custom grow light and wheels that mobilize the garden. </p><p>“We are incredibly honored to partner with these communities because they uniquely care for their residents and see the healing benefits of nature,” Eldergrow Founder Orla Concannon said.</p><p>According to a University of Washington report, daily gardening can be a preventive measure to help reduce the onset of dementia by 36 percent. For those living with some form of dementia, access to gardens helps reduce agitation and injuries, while improving mood and sleep. In response to these findings, Eldergrow created its indoor gardening programs, the company said.</p><p>An Eldergow spokesperson said while the organization is currently kicking off the Washington state gardens, they are a nationwide company with nearly 300 gardens in 24 states and will look to keep expanding the program.​</p>2021-05-03T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/0320_News4.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />ManagementPatrick ConnoleFor those living with dementia, access to gardens helps improve mood and sleep, report finds.