180 nursing homes recruited to work on quality initiatives

The Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC) and the Arkansas Health Care Association (AHCA) recently exceeded a nursing home recruitment objective as part of an initiative to improve the quality of health care provided to nursing home residents across Arkansas. The initiative is a nationwide collaborative of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Nursing homes that sign a participation agreement will become part of a Learning and Action Network (LAN). The LAN provides free learning opportunities for their staff and improvement strategies for improving residents’ quality of life. They will also have access to a database that tracks and trends their progress toward providing higher quality care.

The collaboration is part of a five-year contract with CMS to focus on improving the quality of care in nursing homes. The contract requires AFMC to sign participation agreements with 75 percent of Arkansas nursing homes, or 170 facilities. AFMC, with the help of the AHCA, exceeded that amount by signing agreements with 180 nursing homes. AFMC is participating in this initiative as part of the TMF Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO).

Through the LAN, nursing home staff can participate in live webinars or view recordings

of one-hour trainings that teach new skills and specific techniques to improve residents’ care. The LAN also enables high-performing nursing homes to share successful operational strategies and clinical processes with other homes. The learning opportunities are voluntary and facilities can choose the topics that are relevant for their facility and staff needs. These opportunities are provided at no cost to the nursing home.

For the next two years, the quality improvement focus will be on three areas:

  • Reduce unnecessary use of antipsychotic medications prescribed to dementia patients living in nursing homes
  • Decrease potentially avoidable hospitalizations and readmissions of residents
  • Decrease the number of residents’ health care associated infections (HAIs)

“One of the goals is to rapidly spread the best practices and success stories of high-performing nursing homes,” Julie Kettlewell, AFMC’s director of quality outreach, said.

AFMC is part of the TMF QIN-QIO serving Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Puerto Rice and Texas and works on behalf of CMS to monitor and improve care provided to Medicare patients.

Nursing homes that sign a participation agreement will also have access to the TMF QIN-QIO data portal to compare their progress with that of other nursing homes on a state, regional and national level. Evaluating these reports helps the facility more effectively target future quality-improvement efforts.

While quality can be difficult to measure, the collaborative uses 13 measures as specific benchmarks for quality, including residents who have a fall with major injury, urinary tract infections, severe pain, physical restraints, unexplained weight loss, have symptoms of depression and seven other care measures. These measures provide an objective indicator of quality care within the home.