​​The AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award program is a rigorous three-­level process that evaluates a long term care organization’s capabilities against the Baldrige Excellence Framework, a systems, data-driven approach to performance excellence. 

Each progressive award level—Bronze, Silver, and Gold—requires a more detailed demonstration of superior performance. As teams work toward achieving each level, providers learn and develop over time successful habits that make it easier to comply with federal Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) requirements.

The program lays the groundwork for the successful implementation of QAPI in five key ways.​

1. A focus on​​ resident excellence. 

The Quality Award program’s Baldrige framework emphasizes the importance of going beyond customer satisfaction to engage residents and exceed their expectations. This emphasis on the resident allows for the provision of person-centered care. 

2. A focus on​​ valuing people. 

The program’s framework recognizes that an organization’s success relies on an engaged workforce, and that engagement is dependent on meaningful work, clear organizational direction, and the ability to learn and grow. This enables providers to connect staff engagement, competencies, and training directly to the work of the organization to provide person-centered care. ​

3. A focus on visio​​nary leadership.

The Baldrige framework requires senior leaders of any organization to lead by example, set high expectations for their workforce, and create a customer-focused organization. ​

4. A focus​ on fact-based management.

The Baldrige framework requires organizations to make fact-based decisions through systematic analysis of performance measures to support and inform the operations of the organization. ​

5. A focus on continuous quality improvement.

Fundamental to the Baldrige criteria is the concept of continuous quality improvement of an organization’s approaches to work, which leads to improvements and innovations that move organizations toward providing the highest level of care to their residents/patients. ​

Gold Ex​amples

The linkages between QAPI and the Baldrige-based National Quality Award are best explained by two award-winning providers: 

  • South Davis Specialty Care in Bountiful, Utah, recipients of the 2009 and 2019 Bronze awards, 2012 and 2020 Silver awards, and 2014 and 2022 Gold awards
  • Burgess Square Healthcare and Rehab Centre, in Westmont, Ill., recipients of the 2017 Bronze, 2018 Silver, and 2020 Gold awards​

In “Business Success Through Continuous Quality Improvement,” Lisa Pearson, MSN, RN, CIC, director of infection prevention and quality improvement at South Davis Specialty Care, and Kristin Thrun, administrator and director of operations at Burgess Square Healthcare and Rehab Centre, share their centers’ experiences, examples, tips, and best practices on leveraging Baldrige to successfully operationalize QAPI. You can find the session at https://educate.ahcancal.org/products/business-success-through-continuous-quality-improvement#tab-product_tab_meet_the_speakers.

To learn more about the Baldrige-based National Quality Award program, visit ahcancal.org/QualityAward. 

Register for the AHCA/NCAL Quality Summit, May 22-24, 2023, in Grapevine, Texas, for sessions focused on the Quality Awards, the Baldrige criteria, QAPI, and more! Go to https://www.ahcancal.org/Education-Events/Quality-Summit/Pages/default.aspx to register. ​

›  ​About QAPI​

The QAPI program was introduced by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for nursing homes to adopt a systems, data-driven approach to improvement. The program merges two complementary approaches to quality management: Quality Assurance (QA) and Performance Improvement (PI). Together, QA and PI combine to form QAPI, a comprehensive approach to ensuring high-quality care. Learn more at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Provider-Enrollment-and-Certification/QAPI/Downloads/