​The 69th Annual Convention & Expo of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living will be held at the San Diego Convention Center Oct. 7–10, 2018.

Here is a small sample of the EU-credited symposia held in conjunction with the convention.

Emplo​yee Focus Groups for Staffing Stability: Theory-to-Practice

Facing the challenges of recruiting and retaining qualified staff in the ever-changing workforce is a top priority of health care leaders today. Focus groups can be used as a vital and useful supplement to employee surveys, exit interviews, and other resources.

Whereas quantitative data, such as surveys, are most effective at providing quantifiable data, focus groups can be used to “enrich” these results by revealing the more qualitative perspectives underlying the numbers.

Although conducting a focus group may appear to be a few questions and having a “discussion,” a productive focus group is much more than a chat session. This presentation provides a demonstrated model and core principles for designing and engaging effective focus groups. Additionally, the presentation demonstrates take-away tools and techniques to synthesize the feedback into action plans for meaningful change and outcomes.
Speaker: David Lucia, PhD, human resources consultant, Tealwood Senior Living, Bloomington, Minn.

An Introduction to Genomic Testing: Is T​his the Dawn of Personalized Medicine?

Genomic testing represents an exciting advancement in developing individualized treatment plans for the post-acute patient, but navigating through the technology can be a daunting process. The first part of this presentation will provide a background on the science of genomic testing, the current status of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approval for the testing, and a review of the payment models. The second part will discuss how one post-acute provider selected a genomic testing service (there are many available) and will provide several case studies where genomic testing was used to help the treatment team make individualized medication recommendations.

Speakers: Mark Pavlovich, MA, senior director of analytics and education, CHSGa, Alpharetta, Ga.; Allan Anderson, MD, MMM, CMD, DLFAPA, assistant professor of psychiatry, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Cambridge, Md.

Preventing Hospital Readmissions

Healthcentric Advisors has designed an evidence-based, community-centered nursing facility project to address unnecessary or potentially avoidable hospitalizations using a systematic process for discharging residents back into the community. The project uses key elements from the hospital-based Project Red and Coleman’s Care Transitions Intervention. It is centered on an evidence-based after-care plan (ACP) that educates patients and their families regarding post-discharge care management. Data collection and a Medicare claims-based analysis took place from March 2017 through March 2018. Preliminary results from among 1,793 nursing facility admissions are promising: Participants have demonstrated the feasibility of implementing the core elements of Project Red (93 percent of patients received ACP at discharge), and claims provide evidence for a downward trend in readmissions among the participating facilities.

This session will describe the intervention; recent results from this project, including the impact on readmissions; utilization of ACPs to promote patient satisfaction and understanding of their care; and best practices for dissemination to other communities.

Speakers: Tyler Czarnecki; Gail Patry, RN, CPEHR, chief program officer, Healthcentric Advisors, Providence, R.I.; Kathleen Calandra, BSN, RN, CPHQ

Effective Organizational and Clinical Approaches to Infection Prevention and Control (F880)

Infection prevention & control (F880) is the most frequently cited deficiency under the new survey process to date and has historically been a top citation nationwide. Using national data, this session will provide information on common drivers of infection prevention & control citations and best practices to optimize infection prevention and control processes and practices to avoid deficiencies and improve residents’ outcomes. The session will highlight effective organizational and clinical approaches to infection prevention and control that attendees can implement immediately in their centers.

Speakers: Sara Rudow, MPA, senior director of regulatory services, AHCA, Washington, D.C.; Holly Harmon, RN, MBA, LNHA, FACHCA, associate vice president, quality & clinical affairs, AHCA; Paul Arbour, BSBA, senior administrator, MaineGeneral Rehabilitation & Long Term Care at Glenridge, August, Maine; Troy Cutler, RN CIC, supervisor infection prevention, MaineGeneral Health at Glenridge, Augusta, Maine

Combining Actionable​ Strategies with Marketing Automation to Shorten the Sales Cycle and Improve Results

What changes in online and traditional marketing strategies are needed this coming year? What are the best strategies for staying in touch with prospects during a lengthy sales cycle? How do we better tell our story so that we can connect with prospects? Is there an easier way to manage marketing activities?
Marketing experts Dan Gartlan and Nicole Wagner explore the answers to these questions using proven principles and tactics designed to attract prospects in a crowded market space. Attendees will learn cohesive and integrated strategies that work in combination to create the ideal platform.

Interdependent strategies focus on topics such as brand storytelling that connect emotionally with prospects, content creation on the website that engages seniors and builds trust, social media and search engine optimization, and the use of email in combination with lead nurturing to move prospects through the buying journey.

Speakers: Dan Gartlan, president, and Nicole Wagner, internet marketing director, Stevens & Tate Marketing, Lombard, Ill.

How’d They Do That? A D​ataholic’s Guide to Great Performance

Nursing centers face a world gone mad, with payment systems in a continual state of flux and uncertainty, and increased focus on quality and resident experience. The ongoing challenge is to maintain profitability, increase efficiency, and improve care. The presenters have worked collaboratively to identify nursing centers that are achieving excellence clinically and financially, pinpoint the metrics that set them apart from other centers, and implement organizational changes to recreate those results in other facilities. The benchmarks, which include staffing standards, billing and coding issues, costs of care, and resident statistics, contrast operational indicators that set the very best facilities apart.

Of course, just knowing the benchmarks isn’t enough. Presenters will also discuss experience-based approaches to closing gaps between a center’s current state and desired state and maintaining great performance.

Speakers: Lara Cline, RN, MSN, FNP, C-NE, director of care coordination, Cantex CCN, Carrollton, Texas; Loretta Kaes, BSN, RN, BC, C-AL, LNHA, CALA , director of quality improvement and clinical and regulatory services, Health Care Association of New Jersey, Hamilton, N.J.; Chris Murphy, CPA, partner, BKD, Tulsa, Okla.

Compliance Programs: Minim​izing Risk in a Fraud & Abuse World

This session will discuss recent developments in False Claims Act cases and investigations and other risk areas. Speakers will review the trends in investigations and response strategies, and the impact and benefit of compliance programs. They will discuss the most recent guidance on compliance programs, including for phase three of the Requirements of Participation, and how to implement or update the programs in SNFs.

Speakers: Mark Johnson, attorney at law, managing partner/San Diego office, and Mark Reagan, attorney at law, managing partner/San Francisco office, Hooper Lundy and Bookman

New Survey? No Problem!

The Long Term Care Survey Process is a resident-centered, outcome-oriented inspection that relies on a case-mix-stratified sample of residents to gather information about the facility’s compliance with participation requirements.

One year into the implementation of the new survey, often referred to as the hybrid survey, many providers are still learning how to successfully navigate their health inspection.

In this session, the speaker will detail the hybrid survey process used by state surveyors and review trends providers have seen in the past year in terms of tags cited more frequently on a national basis and at a regional level. This interactive lecture will also provide attendees with strategies and practices that not only help providers improve survey performance but also can be used to fulfill requirements to meet the five elements of Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement (QAPI).

Combining these initiatives will help providers to come into compliance more efficiently, and more completely, with less time, effort, and energy required from staff.

Speaker: Ellen Kuebrich, chief strategy officer, Providigm, Denver

Achieving Quality and Finan​​cial Outcomes by Improving Medication Safety in Transitions of Care

Pharmacy-related CMS quality measures for medication reconciliation and drug regimen review are important in addressing medication-related problems (MRPs) that result in patient harm and increased health services utilization and costs, including emergency room visits, rehospitalizations, and mortality.
This session explores the value of pharmacist-provided medication reconciliation during transitions of care. The speakers will share the impact pharmacists have on resolving MRPs, streamlining individualized care, reducing rehospitalization rates, and decreasing total cost of care.

Speakers: Frank Grosso, pharmacist, president, and Marylee Grosso, BSPharm, RPh, PD, FASCP, managing partner, HealthCare Consults, Corinth, N.Y.; Addolorata Ciccone, PharmD, BCGP, geriatric clinical pharmacist, Jefferson House, Hartford HealthCare, Middletown, Conn.

Addressing Distress Thro​ugh Meaningful Activities for Residents with Dementia

This session will discuss key principles in incorporating meaning into the activity program for residents living with dementia, which in turn improves quality of life and decreases distress, thereby reducing the need for antipsychotics.

As antipsychotics use diminishes, residents with dementia “come alive” and have a need to interact with their environment and caregivers. Layering activities, theme bags/stations, Spark of Life, and the Montessori method are four approaches that will be discussed and demonstrated in this session.
To engage people living with dementia, caregivers must increase sensory input and create a “yes” environment. These approaches employ specific tools to make it happen. When residents experience meaning in their daily interactions with staff and their environment, their distress decreases, staff satisfaction increases, and the overall care environment improves.

Speaker: Dusty Linn, LCSW, CDP, AC-BC, CVW, PAC Trainer, social/activity/dementia consultant & educator, Dusty Linn Consulting, Greenbrier, Ark.

Electroni​c Health Records: Maximize Opportunities and Minimize Risk

In a fast-changing and resource-constrained environment, long term care providers are looking for ways to offer better care and demonstrate value to partners. In particular, the change from paper charts to electronic health records (EHR) has transformed the delivery of services by introducing new benefits as well as risks that must be managed.

This session will explore how long term care providers can leverage EHR to find efficiencies, improve clinical outcomes, and elevate the patient or resident experience, while also identifying potential pitfalls. The discussion will cover topics such as how to address human error, identify differences producing EHR rather than paper charts for litigation, and integrate EHR across staff and clinical practices.

Speaker: Larry Wolf, MS, chief transformation officer, MatrixCare, Chicago

Preventing and Responding to Bullying Between Older Adults

Strong social bonds are an important aspect of successful aging, but group dynamics often involve conflict and tension, and staff at assisted living communities may be called upon to respond to instances of bullying or aggression between residents. The speaker will examine how to identify bullying behavior, strategies for preventing bullying, successful interventions when bullying is taking place, and ways to support staff in creating a welcoming atmosphere.

He will pay special attention to preventing bullying where the aggression is based on a person’s minority status, such as bullying that targets people of specific ethnic and/or racial identities, genders, disabilities, sexual orientations, or religions. Exercises will also address how to intervene in conflicts