Right. But if you’re like many people, some of these rankings, ratings, and approval scores might seem so common, they’ve lost a bit of their meaning. The good news is, this rating matters. Villa St. Francis RN MDS Specialist Kacie Lynn recently sat down to discuss the CMS, their rating system, and the hard work and dedication to resident care it’s taken #TeamVilla to earn their best rating.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is not just your run-of-the-mill review site. It’s a government agency, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services, which manages Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs that assist with healthcare coverage throughout the United States. Along with other goals, CMS works with senior care providers to reduce disparities, fraud, and abuse, strengthen program integrity, and provide incentives that tie to payments.
CMS created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers easily compare nursing homes, and to help identify areas about which they may want to ask questions. Specifically, CMS looks at three categories:
Scores in these three categories come together to create one overall star rating anywhere from one (worst) to five (best).
A five-star rating means our residents are well taken care of. We do a good job of keeping residents healthy, happy, and independent, and preventing re-hospitalizations. Einstein said it best – the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. To achieve better-than-average outcomes for our residents, we’re always on board to do things a little differently.
From my clinical perspective, there are a few key points that really highlight the Villa St. Francis difference.
There’s a lot of talk these days, and rightly so, about the dangers of antipsychotic medications, and fear that communities might use medication to minimize difficult behaviors and make residents easier for the staff to manage. We’re proud to be leading the pack in decreasing the need for these medications through interventions, programming, and staffing.
We have a psychologist on our team who visits residents on a weekly basis – something many communities provide quarterly or monthly at best. We have a Life Enrichment Coordinator for each neighborhood who tailors our programming to meet each resident’s needs, abilities, likes, and dislikes. We have a nurse practitioner on our team who’s in the building full-time Monday through Friday to help us spot symptoms and anticipate potential health issues before they become problems.
Our intensive Care Plan program allows us to work together as an interdisciplinary team, along with resident family members, to create an environment personalized to meet each resident’s unique tastes, goals, and medical needs. When a resident joins our community who has previously been prescribed a variety of medications, we use these quarterly Care Plan meetings to help us pinpoint potential alternatives for coping with pain, mental health issues, and other chronic problems through diet, exercise, social activities, spiritual health, and more.
From our balance classes and therapy programming, to our above-average staffing levels for nurses, nursing assistants, and physical therapists, Villa St. Francis residents are less likely to fall and get hurt than others, both state-wide and nationally. Having more team members on board translates to more physical therapy time and strength building personally tailored towards each resident, increasing a resident’s ability to walk steadily, move independently, and catch themselves when they do miss a step. Additional staff also leads to additional assistance with direct needs, more time and attention, and even safer, more efficient living spaces.
In 2018, the Kansas average for residents self-reporting moderate to severe pain was 17.6%. At Villa St. Francis, that number was 5.7%. If a Villa resident is experiencing pain, we take care of it. While medication is at times necessary, we have a variety of non-pharmacological therapies and interventions we use to manage pain as well. From our Life Enrichment programming, which includes everything from deep breathing exercises and mindfulness classes to state-of-the-art interventions like diathermy, hydrocollators, and ultrasound therapy, to the high-quality pressure relieving beds we provide, we look at pain holistically and work to minimize it accordingly.
In summary, the overall 5-star rating is so much more than just another stamp of approval. It’s a reflection of what five years of consistency in leadership has empowered our team to do for residents. It’s the result of our mission being lived out tangibly. It shows that we’re not just checking the boxes – that we’re focused on the big picture, the whole person, and the little things that can make a big difference. It’s an official acknowledgement of what our team, our residents, and our families already know – that the way we do things here provides a happier, healthier way of life for those we serve.