United Church Homes’ (UCH) commitment to quality care and continuous improvement in all areas of the organization runs deep. That commitment is especially relevant in highly regulated skilled nursing centers and assisted living communities that serve the most vulnerable residents. UCH benefits by both voluntary and government-mandated assessments that inform its many policies and practices and shows how UCH communities rank in these two key areas relative to similar communities. UCH is well represented in the ranks of National Quality Award Program recipients honored by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living. The program is a rigorous three-level process that evaluates an organization’s capabilities against nationally recognized standards for excellence: the Baldrige Excellence Framework. It is one of the most comprehensive performance assessments available to long term and post-acute facilities.
The AHCA/NCAL program includes three award levels: Bronze – Commitment to Quality; Silver – Achievement in Quality; and Gold – Excellence in Quality. Each higher level requires a more detailed demonstration of superior performance. Organizations must first apply for the Bronze Award, which requires applicants to assess their organization’s mission, vision and key factors that lead to success. Bronze-level honorees may then apply for the Silver Award after achieving Bronze, which requires applicants to thoroughly assess how their organization works, its effectiveness, and tools for improvement in their approaches. Silver-level recipients are eligible to next apply for the Gold Award, which requires applicants to show superior performance in leadership, strategic planning, and customer and staff satisfaction.
UCH participates in the National Quality Award Program because its leaders recognize its value. Organizations learn from the feedback and perspective of experts outside UCH and the application process itself is a laborious internal assessment. The program helps UCH become stronger, more resilient and results-focused.
Five UCH communities earned National Quality Awards in 2021: The Parkvue Community received a Bronze; The Fairhaven, Four Winds, Harmar Place, Trinity Community at Beavercreek and Trinity Community at Fairwood received Silver level recognition.
“We’re so proud of what these awards represent,” said UCH President and Chief Executive Officer Rev. Dr. Kenneth Daniel. “They represent quality care, continuous improvement, and staff expertise and dedication. They demonstrate our deep commitment to quality and to those we are honored to serve.”
UCH skilled nursing communities also are regulated at both the state and federal levels. Annual assessments of compliance and quality care are reflected in star ratings published by Medicare. The star ratings help those seeking long-term care to make well-informed decisions about where they receive services. Hospitals also review these ratings before presenting a list of nursing homes to patients who need short-term rehab services. Like the National Quality Awards, the regulatory assessments serve to promote a continuous improvement mindset that leads to quality care for UCH residents.
The Medicare one to five star rating system combines results and data from three important sources: health inspections, staffing, and quality of resident care measures. Inspectors visit skilled nursing communities, select a sample of residents and thoroughly review all aspects of their care before issuing a report detailing any deficiencies.
“Achieving and maintaining quality in clinical care is a daily team effort,” said Fairhaven Community director of nursing, Karen Webb. “We’re proud of the four-star rating we earned for the third quarter of 2021, but we’re always looking for ways to further improve. It takes an interdisciplinary team totally committed to quality to achieve that. We coach, we share best practices, we collaborate, and we constantly ask, ‘How can we do even better?’ in every aspect of our clinical operations.”
The staffing assessment includes a review of nursing staff work schedules and other key data. The quality of care component of the assessment looks at individual patients condition and care to find out: Have they lost weight? Have they experienced a fall?
“There are lots of moving parts,” explained Wendell Torrey, executive director at Pilgrim Manor, which also earned a four-star rating for the third quarter of 2021. “It’s a rigorous, ongoing process that requires staff expertise, teamwork, and a commitment to providing the best care possible for every patient.”
“What we do isn’t easy, but it’s very rewarding,” Webb added. “Ultimately, everything we do ties back to UCH’s mission, vision and core values, and to our commitment to building and maintaining a culture of community, wholeness and peace for the patients we serve.”