Seniors Housing Business

ASHA 2018

Seniors Housing Business is the magazine that helps you navigate the evolution of the seniors housing industry.

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strates that an operator's staff can really be involved in neutralizing those types of behaviors. ASHA has also undertaken a research project with George Mason Univer- sity. Can you tell us more about it? Schless: The study, an outgrowth of our public policy committee's work, is titled The Evolving Healthcare System: Coordinated Care and Out- comes Tracking in Independent Living and Assisted Living Communities. It's probably the first study of its kind to determine the extent to which provid- ers are offering coordinated access to ancillary health services for indepen- dent or assisted living residents. The study tracked health and wellness outcomes and utilization of electronic health records. Andrew Carle, director of the assisted living/ senior housing administration pro- gram at George Mason University, and Dr. John Cantiello, a professor and colleague of Carle, conducted the research. The industry will find this work very interesting because it quantifies a good deal of involvement, both on the independent living and assisted living side. For example, 86 per- cent of independent living settings offered residents formal access to at least one ancillary health service. What in the data stood out? Schless: There are opportunities for some providers to play a big- ger role and be more involved in providing pre-acute and eventually post-acute services. We will con- tinue to discuss the role of private pay senior living in this broader healthcare arena. Accreditation raises the bar Michael, about 75 percent of Senior Resource Group's 32 communities are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). How important is accreditation in your view? Grust: Well, let me start by explaining what accreditation is. Essentially, you have a third party that audits your community and measures its performance against a thousand different standards and best practices. Frankly, from our perspective it really harkens back to delivering on quality of life. We have a huge responsibility to ensure that we are providing an environ- ment that does adhere to best prac- tices and has standards. Obviously, on the assisted living side communi- ties are licensed. At the end of the day, consumers are looking for answers. They're looking for the warm comfort of knowing that this is a place that they can depend on. The adult daughter is often making that decision. She is driving that due diligence process. Accreditation is very important. You wouldn't go into a hospital that wasn't accredited. This is along those same lines. The audit ensures that an outside organization has reviewed your operation. For us, it is a great rallying point for each community when it is going through an audit. The staff rises to the occasion. We do live by it. Our operating procedures are tethered very heavily to best practices. It's been a very positive commitment that we've made. How long does the audit process take and how thorough is it? Grust: The audit itself is two days. The surveyors interview department heads and look at all of our files. We prepare for the audit, but we live by it. It's a three-year accreditation. We have a care and compliance director in our company. It takes awhile before a community is ready for CARF accreditation. If we buy an asset, it takes over a year for us to make it even eligible, because we have to infuse our operating proce- dures into the community. How much does it cost for a community to be accredited? Grust: The application fee is about $1,000, and it costs about $7,000 to $8,000 for the actual audit. Spread over three years, that's a financial commitment of about $3,000 per year. Is CARF well known? Grust: CARF is not as well known as it should be. The accreditation process is something that a lot of continuing care retirement commu- nities (CCRCs) and non-for-profits have lived by forever. There are only a handful of operators that have gone through the process. In general, the industry is seeking answers on how to ensure that best practices are adhered to. There are a thousand different CARF standards that are very rigor- ous and robust and touch on nearly every aspect of what you deliver on as an operator. The process is transparent, correct? Grust: Absolutely, and it's possible for a senior living community to fail the audit and not receive CARF accreditation. For us, the accredita- tion process is a rallying point for our communities. People recognize that this is a very serious quality assessment. We're entrusted with the responsibility of somebody's life. I've spoken to a lot of my peers about accreditation. The reaction of some is, "Oh my gosh, who wants to go through it?" I say, "Why not go through it?" What better way is there to ensure that everyone is pull- ing on the same oar, that everyone understands how important it is for operators to deliver on these stan- dards for the sake of our industry's credibility? n Interview with Grust and Schless AS H A 50 2018 78 2018 ASHA 50

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