The 66th Annual Convention & Expo of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is coming Oct. 4–7 to San Antonio, Texas.
Here are some samples of the more than 70 CEU-credited symposia beginning on Monday, Oct. 4, and going on for three days.

Strategies For Individualizing Care Of The Person With Dementia

A cornerstone of good care and positive quality of life for a person with dementia is knowing that person—their likes and dislikes, preferences and routines, history and background, what frustrates them and what soothes them, what a “good day” means for them, and so much more. Gathering that information on an ongoing basis is critical to developing and implementing the best possible care plans for each individual.

This session will explore strategies and will incorporate lessons learned from providers that have been hard at work improving their ability to serve these individuals through Mass Senior Care’s OASIS training program.

Session Leader: Susan Wehry, MD, commissioner, Vermont Agency of Human Services, Department of Aging, Disabilities and Independent Living, Burlington, Vt.

Comprehensive Care For Persons With Dementia: Survey Readiness Around Person-Centered Care

As a key element of the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has worked with a number of states to pilot approaches to better capture and assess the quality of care for persons with dementia in nursing care centers.

Current regulatory guidance at F309 and F329 addresses the comprehensive experience of the person with dementia, the facility’s understanding and knowledge of that person’s needs, and the successful implementation of approaches to meet those needs, avoiding the use of antipsychotic drugs as a response to behavioral communication. This session will review CMS’ report on the pilot survey experience and will include an overview of comprehensive care practices for the person with dementia.

Session Leader: Alice Bonner, PhD, RN, associate professor, Northeastern University, Westborough, Mass.

SNF PPS FY 2016 Final Rule And Outlook For Future Rules

The fiscal year 2016 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) marked the first time the skilled nursing profession has experienced quality requirements in its prospective payment system (PPS).

Because of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act (IMPACT Act), and the Affordable Care Act, future NPRMs will contain additional quality requirements in addition to existing PPS payment methodology longstanding practices. At the same time, CMS continues to explore possible payment methodology changes.

Session Leaders: Mike Cheek, vice president, Medicaid and long term care policy, AHCA/NCAL, Washington, D.C.; Barry Lazarus, vice president, chief compliance officer, HCR ManorCare, Toledo, Ohio; Mary Ousley, RN, president, Ousley and Associates, Richmond, Ky.

Happy Staff = Better Quality

This session will cover a wide variety of techniques to empower leaders at all levels to improve and maintain community culture and improve retention and recruitment strategies.
Participants will be empowered to evaluate their current programs, identify desired changes, implement those changes, and develop communitywide buy-in. The leader will bring examples from a variety of care settings. By the close of the session, participants will have a list of take-aways that they can implement right away with their leadership teams.

Session Leader: Robert Simandl, Simandl Law Group, Waukesha, Wis.

Rehospitalizations: Solutions Through Root-Cause Analysis

It’s not surprising that many long- and short-stay residents are frequently hospitalized for varied reasons such as deconditioning, illnesses, or other complications. However, many of these hospitalizations are potentially avoidable and costly. Health care reform promises continued scrutiny on this issue, challenging providers to develop stronger clinical and operational systems. Most recently, the IMPACT Act is calling for quality monitoring and reporting of rehospitalizations. This session will lead attendees to analyze patterns of rehospitalizations through a process of root-cause analysis and management of risk factors. Additional strategies to prevent avoidable hospital readmissions, including utilizing the evidenced-based INTERACT process, will be explored.

Session Leader: Lisa Hohlbein, RN, RAC-MT, CDP, CADDCT, curriculum development specialist, AANAC, Anna, Ohio

The New Face Of Privacy: Facebook, Other Social Media Sites, And Increased Enforcement

The use of social media and other electronic communication is increasing exponentially, with growing numbers of social media outlets; platforms; and applications, including blogs, social networking sites, video sites, and online chat rooms and forums. Social media can benefit health care in a variety of ways, including fostering professional connections, promoting timely communication with patients and family members, and educating and informing consumers and health care professionals. Without a sense of caution, however, these understandable needs and potential benefits may result in disclosure of too much information and violations of patient privacy and confidentiality. See as a starting point for this presentation.

Session Leader: Nancy Bonifant, JD, associate, Reed Smith, Washington, D.C.

Ideal Candidates Exist! Strategies To Hire And Retain Staff

The ability to hire and retain employees in long term/post-acute care is challenged by caregiver shortages, high turnover, and an aging population with more sophisticated care needs. This “staffing reality” can turn into a vicious cycle as providers rely on current staff to fill additional shifts, causing burnout, dissatisfaction, and, ultimately, more turnover. This session will detail how a consistent staffing and hiring strategy is the keystone for building staff stability. Participants will discover how to proactively identify hiring needs, recruit high-quality candidates, and attract best-fit employees. In addition, they will discover how a consistent, balanced approach to staffing improves staff satisfaction, resident and family relationships, and quality of care.

Session Leaders: Irene Fleshner, RN, MHSA, FACHE, senior vice president, strategic nursing initiatives, Genesis HealthCare Corp., Sarasota, Fla.; Mark Woodka, chief executive officer (CEO), OnShift, Cleveland, Ohio

Understanding The Brain And Behavior In Persons With Dementia

While the person with dementia is far more complex than a diagnosis, understanding how various disease processes typically affect individuals and their abilities to understand and engage with the world around them can offer important insights into how best to interact and provide care. In this session, participants will review the impact of different types of dementia and their progression on the brain and on function and behavior, including unique aspects of caring for persons with younger onset dementias. In addition, participants will explore strategies, tips, and tools to share with their teams to help them better respond to behavior in ways that minimize fear, anxiety, and defensive responses.

Session Leader: Susan Wehry, MD, commissioner, Vermont Agency of Human Services, Department of Aging, Disabilities and Independent Living, Burlington, Vt.

Achieving Truly Managed Care: How Enrollment And Payment Trends Are Changing Medicare Managed Care

Even as enrollment in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans continues to grow, reform has fundamentally changed managed care by linking quality to payment. Payment cliffs are looming for many MA plans, and financial pressures will affect the rates and contracts offered to post-acute care (PAC) providers. MA plans bring an array of other challenges to providers, including prompt payment issues, truncated length of stay, payment recovery as part of post-utilization review, network narrowing, and payments at less than Medicare fee-for-service levels.
As PAC providers seek to advance partnerships and networks with MA plans, post-acute providers will need targeted business strategies to ensure successful partnerships.

Session Leaders: Eric Hammelman, vice president, Avalere Health, Washington, D.C.; Tammy Trasti, Golden Living; Jill West, Petersen Health Care

Strengthening Resident Choice And Culture Of Safety Using Frontline Staff Engagement

Participants will strengthen their understanding and utilization of effective staff involvement tools and techniques in the development of a sustainable resident culture of safety and resident choice. After establishing an acceptable definition of a “resident culture of safety,” leaders will—using examples of falls prevention—explore a variety of problem solving, communications, and collaboration techniques. The intention of this presentation is to help managers empower front-line staff to actively participate in the development and sustaining of a resident culture of safety and ensure resident choice.

Session Leader: Raymond Miller, MSOSH, director, risk and safety solutions, Direct Supply, Milwaukee

Emerging Infectious Diseases: A Different Kind Of Disaster Preparedness

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the threat of a dangerous infectious disease arriving in the local community grows ever more likely. Some of these diseases, like avian influenza, have the potential to become a pandemic that could have a huge impact on the nation’s health care system and society in general. Others, like Ebola, can have a significant psychological impact on the American public and raise major questions about the readiness of the public health sector to deal with this kind of emergency. Although not first receivers, long term care facilities are not immune to this threat, and they need to take reasonable steps to be prepared for the next infectious event. This session will give attendees the information they need to develop realistic plans for dealing with an emerging infectious disease in their community and/or their facilities.

Session Leaders: Jocelyn Montgomery, RN, director of clinical affairs, California Association of Health Facilities, Sacramento, Calif.; Phillip Smith, MD, professor, Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Neb.; Karen Goldsmith, JD, shareholder, Goldsmith and Grout PA, Winter Park, Fla.

Separating The Facts From The Fiction On Antipsychotic Medications

This session will address the evidence base and dispel common misperceptions surrounding the use of antipsychotic medications in persons with dementia as a means to address neuropsychiatric symptoms. In addition, participants will review the implications of polypharmacy and the potential interactions of these drugs with other common medications used in the older adult nursing care center population. The consultant pharmacist is a critical partner who can help integrate the evidence and best practices around use of these medications. This partnership in care can help improve the function and well-being of residents.

Session Leader: Nicole Brandt, PharmD, MBA, CGP, BCPP, FASCP, professor, geriatric pharmacotherapy, Pharmacy Practice and Science UMB School of Pharmacy, director, clinical and educational programs, Peter Lamy Center Drug Therapy and Aging, Baltimore

The Evolution Of The ACO Model: What Do These New Changes Mean For SNF Providers?

CMS’ ACO (accountable care organization) models are going strong and show no signs of slowing down. With the release of new ACO rules earlier this year, the recent expansion of the Pioneer ACO program, and the announcement of the Next Generation ACO demonstration, the ACO landscape is on course to look very different in years to come than it does today. Attend this session to learn about the recent changes to the ACO program and what challenges and opportunities face the skilled nursing facility (SNF) community. The leader will walk through the new ACO proposed rule, the Next Generation ACO model, and recent developments with the Pioneer program. He will also discuss implications and steps SNF providers should be taking to engage in these models.

Session Leader: James Michel, director, Medicare research and reimbursement, AHCA/NCAL, Washington, D.C.

Plaintiffs’ Attorney Tricks: How Providers Can Respond Effectively

AHCA/NCAL and its members have been frustrated by the deceptive advertising and litigation-solicitation campaigns being waged by plaintiffs’ attorney firms on nursing and assisted living centers. Further, plaintiffs’ attorney actions and subsequent litigation are forcing some providers to spend significant amounts of monies to defend themselves against these false claims, which are undermining the profession’s hard work over the past many years to build and improve quality of care for patients.

Session Leader: Jason Bring, JD, partner, Arnall Golden Gregory, Atlanta

The New Five-Star: Actions You Can Take To Improve Your Ratings

CMS has changed how the quality measure component ratings are calculated, which impacts overall ratings. New measures are being added to Five-Star (antipsychotics, rehospitalization, discharge to community, and staffing turnover). CMS also plans to audit staffing payroll data and Minimum Data Set data. This session will review these changes and explain where individual facility data can be found and what actions providers can take to improve their ratings under this new system.

Session Leader: David Gifford, MD, MPH, senior vice president, quality and regulatory affairs, AHCA/NCAL, Washington, D.C.

Let’s Get Social

Within the past decade, social media (Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Facetime) has become an activity of daily living for the residents and employees of SNFs. Furthermore, social media is now an integral arm of SNF marketing and admissions. What does this mean? By bridging communication gaps between residents and their family and friends, social media expands the walls of the residents beyond the SNF and helps to develop an increased sense of competency and personal happiness. This presentation will provide insight from both an occupational therapist and administrator on how social media can amplify quality of life among residents and also promote SNFs to potential clients via online content.

Session Leaders: Kris Mastrangelo, OTR/L, LNHA, MBA, president and CEO, and Elisa Bovee, MS OTR/L, vice president, operations, Harmony Healthcare International, Topsfield, Mass.

Bundled Payments: Expanding Provider Accountability Across The Continuum

The presenters will draw upon their experience from all angles of the bundling payment design and provide either a specific case study of a post-acute provider or a panel of post-acute providers engaged in a bundled payment pilot. These providers will each provide unique perspectives on innovative partnerships with upstream and downstream providers, evolving culture and operations for success, and diversity across market types. Concrete tools will be provided to evaluate their readiness and opportunity for participation in a bundled payment structure, as well as the future policy implications and environment for broader reform that includes bundled payments.

Session Leaders: Brian Fuller, MBA, FACHE, director, Avalere Health, Washington, D.C.; George Burkley, chief strategy officer, Signature Health Care, Louisville, Ky.; John Paul Taylor, chief operating officer, Stonegate Senior Living, Lewisville, Texas; Nanci Wilson, vice president, research and development, Plum Healthcare Group, San Marcos, Calif.

IMPACT And The World Of Outcomes In Rehab: Successful Practices

This session will examine the current state of rehabilitation outcomes measurement in post-acute care settings: inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing facility, long term acute, and home health care. Patients cared for in these settings often transition between multiple sites of care when their health and functional status changes, which is costly to the health care system. This session will provide a context for understanding the data elements scheduled for implementation by Oct. 1, 2016, and show how to develop strategies to remain a facility of choice.

Session Leaders: Ellen Strunk, PT, MS, GCS, CEEAA, president, Rehab Resources and Consulting, Birmingham, Ala.; Mary Van De Kamp, MS/CCC-SLP, senior vice president, quality and care management, Kindred Health Care, Louisville, Ky.; Gail Polanski, RN, BSN, president, Tara Therapy, Orchard Park, N.Y.

Therapy In A SNF: Scrutiny, Compliance, And Response

SNFs are under immense scrutiny with regard to the levels of therapy provided and the documentation in support of that therapy. Contractor audits, extrapolation, whistleblower cases, and Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations all have unfortunately become more prevalent and are not letting up. This session will bring the perspective of an attorney and a therapy consultant/compliance officer who have both worked on DOJ cases. The main focus of the session will be on proactive strategies that providers can implement both in anticipation of a review and in response to an active review.

Session Leaders: Aric Martin, JD, managing partner, Rolf Goffman Martin Lang, Cleveland, Ohio; Alissa Vertes, CCC/SLP, CHC, vice president of corporate compliance, HealthPRO Rehabilitation, Cockeysville, Md.