Are Your Stars Fading?

March 10, 2015
Chris Perna, The Eden Alternative Blog

Fading Stars

Have you heard about the revisions to the 5-Star Quality rating system used by CMS? I actually know the answer before even asking the question because everyone is talking and writing about it. While these changes might not be perfect, we have a new reality and need to get started dealing with it.

USA Today reports that about 61% of all nursing homes got lower quality-of-care scores as a result of the changes. About 28% of nursing homes dropped one star in their overall ratings, including more than 1,200 that lost coveted five-star status. The biggest changes are the usage rate of antipsychotics is now a factor in the rating along with more difficult quality and staffing level measures.

Reducing the use of antipsychotics was introduced as a national quality initiative a few years ago, and this issue is here to stay. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. These drugs are known to be dangerous, and in most cases they are counterproductive and produce poor outcomes. Yet, while progress has been made over the past few years reducing their usage, there is still a lot of room for improvement. It is totally appropriate to include this as part of the star rating system as a clear indicator of quality.

So, if you haven’t taken it seriously yet, here’s what can you do. For starters, you can educate your staff by taking advantage of tools available for free like Hand in Hand training from CMS, or for a reasonable fee try Dementia Beyond Drugs training from The Eden Alternative. By the way, we’ve done CMP grant-funded training in three states, soon to be four, and the attendees rave about it. It also gets results. Training will give your staff the tools they need to make meaningful changes and not only improve your star rating, but also produce better quality and well-being for your elders.

If you are struggling with other quality of care issues and staffing ratios, there is plenty of help available for those as well. There is a wealth of resources available from Pioneer Network, Advancing Excellence, The Eden Alternative, and other sources focused helping organizations address these issues. For example, we offer several QAPI resources to address quality issues and our Neighborhood Guide Training can help you to realign your organization into self-directed teams to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Changes like we’ve just seen with the five star system can be challenging, but they can be managed. You can respond to the challenge and take the steps necessary to overcome them, or stand by and watch the stars fade. It really is your choice.

For more information on the resources offered by The Eden Alternative, click here . . .

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