Life After Gold<p>There is a moment in the spotlight for long term and post-acute care centers who achieve the AHCA/NCAL Gold Quality Award. For most award recipients, that moment is literal&#58; standing on stage at the association’s annual Convention &amp; Expo in front of thousands of their peers celebrating the achievement. <br></p><p>As moments in the spotlight do, it will end. The lights will dim and the music will fade, and life returns to its normal routine. It is in that routine—the everyday functions and systems—that the true award-winning moments take place for Gold Quality Award recipients. It is within the daily actions, clinical practices, and systematic changes that the impact of what it means to have achieved a Gold Quality Award from AHCA/NCAL are truly visible. There is a life after gold, and it is marked not by spotlights but by persistent, incremental improvements. <br></p><p>The AHCA/NCAL Quality Award program is a progressive program built on the foundation of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. Moving from Bronze to Silver to Gold, centers demonstrate a commitment to sustainable organizational and process results. Ultimately, centers that achieve the esteemed Gold Quality Award must prove high levels of performance over time in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, customer, workforce, operations, and knowledge management.<br></p><p>To date, there have been only 49 centers in the nation that have achieved the AHCA/NCAL Gold Quality Award. Two of these centers are Burgess Square Healthcare &amp; Rehab Centre in Westmont, Illinois, and Mountain Valley of Cascadia in Kellogg, Idaho. <br></p><p>Burgess Square Healthcare &amp; Rehab Centre, a 2020 Gold Quality Award recipient, was the first skilled nursing center in Illinois to achieve the AHCA/NCAL Gold Quality Award, and it did so under the leadership of KJ Petersen, Administrator. Its continued success is supported by Nathan Tiwald, Assistant Administrator, who joined the center’s leadership team the same year it was awarded the Gold Quality Award. <br></p><p><img src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2022/EmileeKulin.jpg" alt="Emilee Kulin" class="ms-rtePosition-1" style="margin&#58;5px;" />Mountain Valley of Cascadia achieved its Gold Quality Award in 2011 under the leadership of then-Administrator Maryruth Butler, who is now President of Northern Healthcare, a division of Mountain Valley’s parent company, Cascadia Healthcare. Emilee Kulin, the current Mountain Valley Administrator, has led the center through a revived ACHA/NCAL Quality Award journey, achieving a second round of Bronze and Silver Quality Awards and with hopeful sights set on a future second Gold Quality Award. <br></p><p>While both of these centers share their status as prestigious Gold Quality Award recipients, they share another quality, too&#58; the perspective that there is no way to reflect on their journey to achieving the Gold with a clear moment of “before” and “after.” Rather, both centers note a continuous and persistent”process of reflection and incremental changes.<br></p><p>“It’s almost like a muscle that we’ve been exercising for years,” explained Tiwald. “We were, and continue to, develop a framework for continual improvement. In the Quality Award journey, we developed some practices that now exist because of organizational muscle memory. It’s part of who we are and how we provide care.” <br></p><p><img src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2022/MaryruthButler.jpg" alt="Maryruth Butler" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin&#58;5px;" />Burgess Square achieved its Gold Quality Award in 2020, a year that the world will forever associate with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the years preceding its Gold award, Burgess Square was actively exercising the deployment of several practices that ultimately bolstered its achievement. One such practice was creating a system for staff communication that actively incorporated feedback from nursing staff and other direct care workers.<br></p><p>“We implemented routine, scheduled meetings in which there’s a freedom for staff at any and every level to share their ideas,” said Petersen. “They are the ones on the floors doing the work and doing the jobs day in and day out. They know which processes are working and ways to improve the ones that are not.”<br></p><p>This encouragement for communication and innovation from all staff paid off in a major way during the pandemic and continues to prove meaningful during the current workforce crisis. Throughout the pandemic, Burgess Square was able to maintain the great majority of its workforce and eliminated the need to partner with external staffing agencies. Using that process for communication continues to serve as the primary tool for success in other cases, including Burgess Square’s recent rollout of their new vitals machines. <br></p><p>“We deployed these new systems to the floors, and we’re in the process of testing them,” said Petersen. “The staff are using them, and we systematically collect their feedback. Then we implement small changes, test those, and solicit feedback again. It’s efficient for everyone because we are solving the obstacles as they arise. It ends up helping us better serve our patients because the team is constantly improving.”<br></p><p>This outcome—developing systems in which centers can continuously enhance and improve their own operational processes—is exactly what AHCA/NCAL hoped for with its Quality Award program.<br></p><p>“Participation in the Quality Award Program is a way for an organization to invest in itself,” said Urvi Patel, Senior Director of Quality Improvement at AHCA/NCAL. “It is not simply about the award, but rather it is focused on helping organizations generate sustainable systematic process that enable them to face a variety of challenges proactively.”<br></p><p>The readiness of a center to roll out a new technology, or change protocols during the midst of a pandemic, or simply learn to trust the processes a center puts in place is, in many ways, the goal of the Quality Award journey. At the same time, there are many other areas in which a center must demonstrate excellence. These areas range from clinical practices to operational efficiencies, including reducing food waste, average call light responses, completing fire drills, wound healing, successful discharge to the community, antipsychotic use rates, 30-day rehospitalization rates, and more. <br></p><p>Mountain Valley of Cascadia saw changes in both their operational efficiencies and measures of certain clinical outcomes due in large part to changes they made during their quality journey. In 2018, Mountain Valley became a certified behavioral unit. To ensure successful outcomes for their residents, the center needed a psychiatrist to support them. Given its rural location and the fact that Mountain Valley did not have a psychiatrist on staff, their best option was to hire a doctor who lived in Boise, an 8-hour drive from Kellogg. <br></p><p>Using the tools the center learned by going through the Quality Award application process, Mountain Valley submitted grant applications and ultimately received around $70,000 in grants. These funds were used to invest in a telehealth system to enable their psychiatrist to work directly with individuals with no geographic limitations. The center again leaned on an iterative process for rolling out its all-new telehealth system, assessing its effectiveness for residents and staff, and developing policies and procedures, such as cleaning protocols, to ensure its success.<br></p><p>“We were one of the first buildings to implement telehealth care,” said Kulin. “As a result, when the pandemic hit, we were miles ahead of everyone else. It was great proof that what we learned going through the Baldrige framework continues to help us improve.”<br></p><p>The pandemic provided an unparalleled backdrop against which many centers felt the efficacy—or lack thereof—of their ability to implement changes. At Mountain Valley, in addition to providing telehealth services, the center quickly adapted their existing infection control procedures to account for additional requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “We adapted quickly to using our cell phones to text one another to eliminate common surfaces,” Kulin said. “We got sanitizing boxes to clean our devices, and we communicated the constant changes with the team using a private Facebook group, a platform we knew many of our staff were already using. We always had infection control in our center, but we quickly took it to the next level with success due, in part, to our familiarity with how to implement new changes as a result of the Quality Award journey.”<br></p><p>When Mountain Valley completed its state and federal infection control survey, the center ended up citation free.<br></p><p>“I have a hard time delineating between quality care, the quality award journey, our application responses to program criteria, and what we’ve instilled as part of the DNA of Mountain Valley,” said Butler. “It’s hard to determine where one component stops and the other one starts. It’s all so fluid and part of who we were and what the center continues to be.” <br></p><p>Encouraging centers to continuously improve goes beyond an award. It speaks to the core values of providing quality care to the people who need it most.<br></p><p>To learn more about the AHCA/NCAL Quality Awards program, visit <a href="http&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/">www.ahcancal.org</a>. <br>​</p>2022-04-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2022/Gold.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Quality AwardsClaire KrawsczynThe AHCA/NCAL Quality Award program is a progressive program built on the foundation of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.
Deadline Approaching for National Quality Award Applications<p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong><img src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/QualityAward1_logos.jpg" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;526px;height&#58;423px;" /><br><br></strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-9-0"><a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Quality/National-Quality-Award-Program/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">​​​Application Deadline&#58; Thursday, January 27, 2022</a></strong></p><div>The National Quality Award application deadline is quickly approaching. If applicants have not done so already, Quality Award staff encourage providers to download and review the following essential resources to help submit an application before the deadline on Thursday, January 27, 2022, by 8 p.m. Eastern.&#160;​</div><div><br></div><h2 style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Quality/National-Quality-Award-Program/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank"><strong class="ms-rteForeColor-2" style="font-size&#58;20pt;">APPLY TODAY!</strong></a></h2><p><br></p><p>The following resources are available on the <a href="https&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/Quality/National-Quality-Award-Program/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">National Quality Award website</a>.</p><ul><li><strong>Month-by-Month Action Plan &amp; Key Dates</strong> - Bronze, Silver, Gold</li></ul><p><em>A month-by-month break d​o​wn of where applicants should be in the application process. </em><br></p><ul><li><strong>Criteria Video Series</strong> - Bronze, Silver, Gold</li></ul><p><em>Short videos, each covering an individual question or category in the Criteria to help applicants work through the application. ​</em></p><p></p><ul><li><strong>Quality Award Survey Requirements</strong></li></ul><p><em>These survey requirements provide SNF applicants information on whether they currently meet the survey requirements to receive a Quality Award. A full description of the survey requirements at each level is available in the application packet.</em></p><p></p><ul><li><strong>Silver and Gold Scoring Calibration Guidelines </strong></li></ul><p><em>Only for Silver and Gold applicants, the scoring guidelines are tools that Examiners utilize to score the applications. Applicants can use these to understand the demands of the various scoring ranges. <br></em></p><p><br></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><a href="https&#58;//ahcancal.org/"><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/logos/ahca_ncal_cobrand.jpg" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;250px;height&#58;30px;" /></a><br></p>2022-01-07T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Breaking-News/PublishingImages/740%20x%20740/QualityAward_logos.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Quality AwardsQuality Award deadline is Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. Review the resources to help submit an application before the deadline.
AHCA/NCAL National Quality Awards 2020, 2021<p>​T​he American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) honored six long term care providers for earning the coveted National Gold Quality Award at the association’s annual convention in October.&#160;</p><p>Providers that achieve the Gold award represent the best in the nation. In the history of the association’s Quality Awards program, only 49 long term care facilities have received the distinction. The three-level process aims to evaluate long term care organizations’ capabilities against nationally recognized standards for excellence known as the Malcolm Baldrige criteria.&#160;</p><p>Two of the six facilities celebrated were recognized for earning the Gold award in 2021.</p><h3>​​Magnolia Manor of Marion County</h3><p>Angela Watkins, RN, administrator of <a href="https&#58;//www.magnoliamanor.com/buena-vista/" target="_blank">Magnolia Manor of Marion County</a> in Buena Vista, Ga., says for her 70-bed facility in rural Georgia the latest attempt to achieve Gold has been a long and hard battle.&#160;</p><p><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2021/December/PublishingImages/Magnolia-Manor-Marion-County_Nurse_2021.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-1" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;" />“One of the challenges along the way was understanding the Malcolm Baldrige criteria and learning how to apply what we do on a daily basis into answers that met the criteria,” she says. “A lot of time went into this effort.”</p><p>But the time spent on writing the application was a good thing, notes Watkins. “What we didn’t realize at first was that we were also becoming a more unified team. Because of this unity, we were better prepared to fight the pandemic.”</p><p>When asked what kept them going after applying unsuccessfully for the Gold once before, Watkins said, “The more you work on the application, the more you understand how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Each time we tried, we were becoming more award-worthy.”</p><h3>​​Why Keep Going</h3><p>Watkins’ advice for providers who are debating on continuing with the program&#58; “You are in this business because you care about [the] residents. If you care about them at all, you can’t give up. You’ve got to keep working on anything that makes their quality of care and quality of life better. Keep going for it.”</p><p>What stands out the most about reaching this milestone, Watkins says, is “when you are able to make a change that you can see that cannot only make a difference in the lives of the residents, but then you can sustain that change; to me that’s powerful. If you invest in the right efforts in improving your processes, success will follow.”</p><h3>​​Maine Veterans' Home - Bangor</h3><p>For Administrator Greg Urban of <a href="https&#58;//mainevets.org/" target="_blank">Maine Veterans’ Home - Bangor</a> in Bangor, Maine, a 150-bed facility that cares for&#160;residents who have served in the U.S. military, achieving Gold took “hard work, perseverance, and a tremendous amount of support.”&#160;<br></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2021/December/PublishingImages/MVH-Bangor.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-4" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;" />&#160;</p><p style="text-align&#58;left;"><span style="text-align&#58;left;">Urban says that Maine Veterans' Homes (MVH) leadership has supported their quality journey since the beginning. MVH - Bangor is the latest MVH to earn Gold. In 2018, MVH - Machias reached Gold, as did MVH - Scarborough in 2016.</span><br></p><p>“I don’t think I could have easily gone as far without their support,” Urban says. Their advice led Urban to go to conventions, join AHCA’s Life Safety Committee, and volunteer as an examiner for the Quality Awards program.&#160;</p><p>“I became an examiner to better understand the quality program,” Urban says. Examiners for the program review applications at the Silver and Gold levels.</p><h3>​The Road to Gold</h3><p>The journey to reach Gold started in 2010 when MVH - Bangor earned Bronze, the first level of the program. “As a facility we felt we were a good team,” says Urban, “but we wanted to be the best we could be.</p><p>“These past 11 years were not easy,” he adds. “We applied twice for the Silver and twice for the Gold.”</p><p>The value in sticking with the program became clear when he realized the application process was unifying his team even more. “Each step of the way brought our team closer together as we focused in on excellence at all levels,” he says.</p><p><img src="/Monthly-Issue/2021/December/PublishingImages/MVH-Bangor7.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" alt="" style="margin&#58;5px;" />Throughout the experience, staff have improved their service to the residents with new, innovative approaches. For example, Urban says, “Since it is difficult to take large numbers of residents to community events, we now bring many community events to their home, like car shows, parades, and motorcycle shows where residents can take a ride in a sidecar and feel the wind in their hair.”</p><p>Urban admits that when he first learned about the Quality Awards program, he was a little skeptical. But after researching more and experiencing firsthand the work involved, his opinion shifted.&#160;</p><p>“It’s very difficult and very valid, and it’s based on something that was created outside our profession. I certainly believe in it now.”</p><p>Now that the Quality Awards program has shown them a clear pathway toward excellence, Urban says, MVH - Bangor will continue the journey.</p><p>For more information about the Baldrige-based AHCA/NCAL Quality Awards program, find it on <a href="http&#58;//www.ahcancal.org/" target="_blank">www.ahcancal.org</a>. The deadline to apply for the 2022 program year is Jan. 27, 2022. <br></p><p><em>Andrea Todd is director of public affairs at the American Health Care Association.​</em><br></p><p><br></p>2021-12-01T05:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Monthly-Issue/2021/December/PublishingImages/Gold.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Quality AwardsAndrea ToddTwo Gold Award earners tell how they persevered to get there and what it has done for their facilities.
AHCA/NCAL National Quality Awards 2021 Recipients<p>The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living is pleased to present the companies that have earned AHCA/NCAL National Quality Awards in the Gold—Excellence in Quality, Silver—Achievement in Quality, and Bronze—Commitment to Quality categories. </p><p><strong style="color&#58;#cc9900;"><span style="color&#58;#cc9900;">GOLD</span></strong><br>Gold recipients demonstrate through their approach, deployment, and consistency of results that they are achieving high levels of performance in health care, customer satisfaction, market, workforce, process, and leadership outcomes. At the Gold level, applicants must address the Health Care Criteria of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program in its entirety.</p><p><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-2-3">SILVER</strong><br>Applicants that receive the Silver award provide an extensive assessment of their systematic approaches, performance measures, and sustainable organizational and process results that are linked to the key customer requirements, success factors, and challenges the applicants previously identified in earning the Bronze award. </p><p><strong style="color&#58;#996633;"><span style="color&#58;#996633;">BRONZE</span></strong><br>Applicants that receive the Bronze award are able to describe their vision and mission, outline plans to improve processes within their communities, identify key challenges, and recognize the relationship of these factors with their ability to achieve performance improvement.</p>Click to see <a href="/Monthly-Issue/2021/October/Documents/2021_QualityAward.pdf" target="_blank">complete list</a>.<p>​</p>2021-10-01T04:00:00Z<img alt="" src="/Topics/Special-Features/PublishingImages/2021/1021/1021_QA.jpg" style="BORDER&#58;0px solid;" />Quality AwardsCompanies that have earned AHCA/NCAL National Quality Awards in the Gold, Silver, and Bronze.