Selecting a skilled nursing facility for yourself or a loved one can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. To help ease this process, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, has devised a star rating system that assesses skilled nursing facilities across the nation based on data for each facility’s health inspection results, staffing sufficiency, and Quality Measures.
Here’s how the process works. Health inspection data, as collected by annual DSHS surveys, are reviewed along with any complaint surveys to determine each facility’s quality of performance in comparison to the state and national averages. Staffing hours for licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants, and physical therapists are divided among the total number of residents in a facility to calculate the number of professional care hours each resident receives per day. These totals are also compared to state and national averages to form a quality score. Finally, several areas concerning the physical and mental condition of residents, called Quality Measures, are analyzed to determine the degree to which skilled nursing staff are meeting resident needs. The scores of these three sub categories are combined to determine the overall performance quality of the facility.
Based on this extensive survey, Panorama’s Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center (C&R) is a five-star skilled nursing facility, meaning CMS has determined that Panorama performs “much above average” when compared to facilities throughout the nation. In addition, the Panorama C&R has zero health deficiencies and zero complaint inspections.
The outstanding success of Panorama’s C&R is attributed to the devoted staff, led by administrator Sharon Rinehart. Sharon and her staff have developed a strategy of continuous improvement that focuses on each department individually. From Sharon’s perspective, maintaining five-star quality service requires an understanding of every position that contributes to operation of the facility and assurance that each staff member possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do what is needed.
“It’s also about teaching critical thinking and having the right people in the right place. I have really high expectations for myself and my staff.” – says Sharon.
Sporting a five star rating is not a finish line for Panorama. On the contrary, the burning question is “What would six stars look like?” Sharon and her team have established ways to surpass the already exceptional level of service. Their strategy follows the concept of Quality Improvement versus Quality Assurance. The latter focuses on meeting quality standards and performing at an acceptable level. This strategy is primarily used as a guide to reach regulation compliance and address areas that have lead to past compliance failures. For a five star facility like Panorama, it’s not about fixing failures, as they have met and exceeded all standards. Rather, in order to keep moving forward, the focus is on Quality Improvement which is a pro-active approach to exceeding standards. This is a continuous process that drives all staff members of the Panorama C&R to identify possibilities and test new approaches that focus on making great quality even better.
To establish the setting for this approach, Sharon has developed an environment of enthusiasm and challenge for her staff. In her words, “We can come to work and do an average job, or we can come to work and go far beyond that. That’s what I want people to do.”
In addition to quarterly meetings for all managers in the skilled nursing facility, Sharon holds annual leadership retreats. Prior to these retreats, attendees are assigned reading material to complete for discussion. This year, each manager was asked to identify one area of focus that could be adjusted to enrich the experience for residents and staff. From there, they each developed a project plan and progress measurement system, which they presented to their peers. After 90 days, the progress of each project will be reviewed and discussed with peers to address obstacles and determine a strategy for continued success.
It’s this enthusiasm for challenge and dedication to continuous improvement that makes Panorama a top-notch facility. There is no doubt they’re on their way to six stars, if a six star rating existed that is.