The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the world that not only do assisted living communities need to provide quality of care for their patients, but that a high level of quality builds confidence for families to ensure that their loved ones are in a protected, safe place. An insightful question to pose to those spearheading quality performance initiatives within assisted living communities is: how often are operations being reviewed to ensure the quality of care is priority?

For an operator overseeing assisted living communities with multiple locations who does not visit onsite often, the obvious answer might be that performers who may need additional support would require more frequent visits. Operators who are not onsite could be potentially missing the mark on pinpointing performance risks and gaps in their communities’ processes, resulting in an unknown level of quality care.

Define your Key Risk Areas

A good starting point would be to define what constitutes as a performance risk. First, a major key risk is state licensure survey performance. Having an assisted living facility license in good standing with the state is critical. However, there are many other indicators of quality of care risk that should not be ignored. Depending on your organization, these risks may include clinical issues such as accident and injury rates, pressure wounds, and medication errors. For many assisted living operations, you may find that staffing trends, such as a high turnover rate, are playing a larger role in performance risks given the public health emergency. Take the time to define what risks your organization may be facing, no matter how big or small.

Best Next Steps

For starters, we recommend taking a snapshot of your community’s performance. Once you have efficiently identified what risks should be measured, develop a risk scale. This should include a scoring matrix that includes all the areas you have identified as a threat to your performance. Next, create a grading system of operational performance to assist in targeting and prioritizing communities in need of improvement. From here, this can be utilized as a proactive guide in labeling communities as a high, moderate, or low risk.

Once risk levels have been identified, you can begin developing an improvement plan specific to each community.

  • Understand the capacity for an onsite visit cadence
  • Adjust the number of visits based on the risk rather than a routine visit cycle
    • For example: High-risk communities will warrant more onsite assessment visits than a low-risk community
  • Use the risk assessment to target specific areas for improvement
  • Complete a root cause analysis for identified risks and create corrective actions based on the findings
  • Most importantly, stick to the plan and hold yourself and community accountable to making improvements

Keep an eye out for potential roadblocks. One problem that arises for many owners and operators of assisted living communities is that they do not have the proper resources to fully commit to such necessary improvements. Understand the constraints and gaps within your organization and consider seeking assistance through industry expert consultants, such as McBee. It is a worthwhile investment to understand performance risks and have a willingness to change, to provide the upmost highest quality of care to your patients. In doing so, you will have confidence and peace of mind knowing your community is delivering quality performance and meeting industry standards.

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