What does it mean to be a 5-star community?

Villa St. Francis was recently rated 5 stars overall by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services! Which means we’re doing something right… Right?

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.

What’s CMS?

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.

What is their star rating all about?

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:

  1. Health inspections conducted by their own inspectors,
  2. Staffing as it relates to the number of care hours provided to each resident each day by nursing staff, and
  3. Quality measures, which looks at a variety of indicators of how well a community is caring for residents’ physical and clinical needs.

Scores in these three categories come together to create one overall star rating anywhere from one (worst) to five (best).

Got it. So a 5-star rating means CMS thinks Villa St. Francis is doing something right. But what does that mean for my loved one?

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.

We manage medications well.

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.

We keep residents safe.

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.

We minimize pain – maximizing quality of life.

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.

Learn more by scheduling a tour today! Send us an email at info@villasf.org, or give us a call at (913) 829-5201.

KMBZ Experts in the News: What To Expect During the Admissions Process

Villa St. Francis Assistant Director of Nursing Taylor Lies Discusses Admissions Process with KMBZ’s Dan Weinbaum

Click here to listen to the full podcast at KMBZ.com!

Within a couple of days of moving in, each new resident attends an initial care meeting with family where an interdisciplinary team that includes a social worker, activities coordinator, community relations manager and nurse to discuss everything from clinical needs to lifestyle choices.

Lies said these meetings happen “as close to an admission as we can get it.” The care team learns everything from how the resident prefers their shower and wants them to administer medications to what they want for breakfast at what time.

They even ask how much communication they would like to receive from Villa St. Francis or if they would rather be left alone and ask questions when they have them. The goal is to make new residents comfortable from the very beginning.

“Typically we’d like to get some information before someone needs our long term care services. We want to meet the family, meet the potential resident, get an idea of what their current environment is like and decide if we can make it work in our environment. We want to make sure we have a good match,” said Lies.

This investment in taking the time to learn as much as possible about the resident’s needs ensures a smooth transition for them and their family. “Maybe they expect their oatmeal in the morning precisely at 5 am. Little things like that when moving into a new place can be so huge,” she told KMBZ during her interview in the Kansas City Morning News.

If you call Villa St. Francis looking for a place for your Mom or Dad the very first conversation you have will be with an experienced and compassionate admissions coordinator. There is an initial survey to determine lifestyle and clinical needs, then typically a tour of the building and an invitation to the potential resident to spend a day and see how they fit in.

In many cases, a family member has served as the main care provider prior to this transition. They may have been there with them in the home. It might be difficult to accept moving to a new community with new people to care for them so it’s important to maintain continuity.

Lies told Weinbaum, “We want to mold their care into something familiar that makes the family feel assured that their parent will be cared for just as well as when they were at home. Team members become advocates for the loved one who provided care. I work at Villa St. Francis because I trust the care and the staff and love going to work every day. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like I’m going to see my family. Helping residents live a full life is such a big part of what I do every day.”

For more information, listen to the full podcast here. Or, send us a message to schedule your tour today!

KMBZ Experts in the News: Medicare, Medicaid, and How to Prepare your Finances

Medicaid Specialist for Villa St. Francis Dispels Common Misconceptions

Click here to listen to the full podcast at KMBZ.com!

Jackie Hollis joined the Kansas City Morning News on KMBZ to talk about the cost of senior care and address the stigma associated with Medicaid. Most people think that it’s only available to seniors who fall below the poverty line and are forced to accept subpar care.

At Villa St. Francis, 70% of residents rely on Medicaid to help cover the cost of care, and they receive the same 5 star care as residents who pay privately, use long term care insurance or are covered by Medicare.

“We have residents who have been doctors, lawyers, and scientists qualify for Medicaid. Money runs out,” Hollis told KMBZ reporter Dan Weinbaum.

With long term care costing an average of $80,000 to $100,000 per year, even those who have saved and planned ahead often can’t afford to pay privately and have to look at other options.

Sometimes people will try to “spend down” their assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. Hollis warned KMBZ listeners that this tactic can backfire if they don’t have a plan in place ahead of time.

When you apply for Medicaid, any gifts or transfers of assets made within five years of the date of application are subject to penalties. However, any gifts or transfers of assets made greater than 5 years of the date of application are not subject to penalties.

What this means is that if seniors start spending down assets well in advance of when they will actually need Medicaid they will get the maximum benefit and avoid expensive penalties for failing to properly plan their finances.

“Keep track of what you’re doing. Whether you’re helping a loved one apply or applying yourself, you need to be aware of everything you’ve done in the 5 years prior to filing the application,” she said.  “Transfers, sales of property and gifts can affect you for future care, so you need to know now.”

Hollis tries to make the transition as seamless as possible. She will sit down with prospective residents, let them know what they need and how to get approved. “Even if you’re not ready today, you need to get ready for tomorrow,” she said.