Assisted Living, News

When it comes to quality improvement, assisted living should look to nursing home standards

Authors of an editorial published in the February issue of the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (JAMDA) argued that it’s time for assisted living (AL) facilities to adopt national standards in order to help improve resident care and bottom lines. Paul R. Katz, M.D., CMD, professor and chairman of the Department of Geriatrics at Florida State University; Alan Kronhaus, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Doctors Making Housecalls; and Steven Fuller, D.O., Ph.D., vice president and corporate medical director of Dillsburg, PA-based Presbyterian Senior Living advised AL facilities to perform a “thoughtful review of nursing home standards that have proven effective and cost-effective, with an eye toward applicability in AL communities,” rather than replicate nursing home standards.

The article lists minimum staffing ratios, mandatory dementia care training, and a call for more clearly defined regulations for physicians in AL as high priority items.

Along with looking at nursing home standards, the authors also recommend that AL communities create a position similar to nursing home medical director for physicians in AL. Keeping cost in mind, they believe that the benefits of introducing this role will “be covered many times over through enhanced quality of care, increased resident satisfaction, longer lengths of stay, higher occupancy rates, and reduced staff turnover.”

Another JAMDA editorial appearing in the February issue contradicted the idea that physicians could address residents’ needs sufficiently, arguing that physicians may not be on-site often enough, although they did agree that physicians should be involved in the care of residents living in AL. To improve quality of care and resident satisfaction in a cost-effective manner, authors of this second editorial advocate for an increased focus on utilizing the interdisciplinary team.