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2015 Business Outlook: Professionalism

December 17, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Editor's Note: Senior housing and services providers will enter 2015 with many unanswered questions regarding their future. A new Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, an expanded Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the presence of Republican governors in more states will bring new perspectives to the political landscape. Controversial presidential executive orders related to immigration reform await resolution, and threatened governmental action could overturn some or all of the Affordable Care Act and the health insurance it provides to certain seniors and others. New payment models and regulations under consideration could alter the business climate for years to come. In a multi-part series, Long-Term Living takes a look at some of the top issues that those who serve older adults will face in the new year. This installment is part five. See the entire series here, or see the digital edition of the December 2014 issue for the print version of these and related articles.


Organizations increasingly are offering to help authenticate the professionalism of aging services providers as a way to help them communicate quality and differentiate themselves among those seeking services. In July, for instance, the Joint Commission’s nursing care center accreditation program began offering a new memory care certification to recognize entities that provide memory care services for those with dementia and other cognitive impairments. Developed with feedback from the Alzheimer’s Association and others, the program builds on new accreditation requirements addressing memory care services that also took effect in July for all nursing homes that are accredited or are seeking accreditation.

Dayne_DuVall_NCBACWhen it comes to individual workers, however, not everyone is sold on the value of independently verified proficiencies. In the experience of Dayne DuVall, chief operating officer of the National Certification Board for Alzheimer Care, some long-term care leaders are reluctant to pay for specialized training for frontline staff, citing out-of-pocket expenses and remuneration costs for time away from work. “I can cite examples of [federal civil money penalty funds] used for dementia training with no out-of-pocket costs, and it’s like pulling teeth for nursing homes to take advantage of the training,” he says. (The exception, in his experience, is private-pay home healthcare companies, which view such training as offering a marketing advantage.)

But look for more opportunities for communities and their employees to quantify their professionalism in 2015. The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), for instance, plans to work with an external partner to establish a credentialing program, starting with qualifications and an exam for executive directors who have attained a certain level of education or experience.

“Obviously, our executive directors have to meet legislative and regulatory requirements in different states, but this would be above and beyond what those requirements entail,” Maribeth Bersani, ALFA’s senior vice president for public policy and interim CEO, says.

Once the credentialing program for executive directors is in place, the organization may look at credentialing memory care, sales and marketing and other senior living professionals, she adds. The credentialing programs would be voluntary.

Not voluntary would be members’ meeting of professional standards being developed by ALFA. Once they are established, meeting the standards would be required to obtain or maintain ALFA membership.

Maribeth_Bersani_ALFA“If you’re in this industry, sometimes it’s disheartening when people say we’re not regulated. We are very regulated. I’ve got binders with every state’s regulations in my office, and in many states, they’re quite thorough and lengthy,” Bersani says. “But having said that, whenever there’s some bad article that says we’re not regulated or our members are not meeting the current regulations, we’d like to be able to say that ALFA members not only meet but exceed the state regulations and meet these additional standards.”

Bersani expects the professional standards to be announced in 2015, and they will evolve with the industry. Current ALFA members would be given a to-be-determined amount of time to meet them, she says. After the standards are in place, ALFA may look at developing an accreditation process, Bersani says.

Also in this series:

2015 Busness Outlook: Payment

2015 Business Outlook: Service reach