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Editorial

April 1, 2003
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by Richard L. Peck, Editor-in-Chief Spread the Word


Spread the Word

BY RICHARD L. PECK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Recently, in working on articles for future issues, our staff came across an Interesting paradox. Two articles each focused on a particular facility's "best practices" approach toward staffing and staff organization, respectively. Though neither facility claimed to be the "be all and end all," their programs reflected vigorous action, critical self-assessment, and a commitment to improving their operations.

But here's where the paradox comes in. Our staff, as a sort of quality check, routinely reviews the federal government Web site Nursing Home Compare (www.medicare.gov/NHcompare/home.asp) to examine the recent survey performance of individual facilities we happen to write about. Neither of these facilities looked particularly good, exhibiting several deficiencies each. Most were relatively minor, of the level 2, "affecting a few" type, but still, these data were unsettling. Why should we showcase these facilities?

The answer emerged when we put the picture together. These facilities were working hard to address these problems. They had acknowledged their imperfections and were attempting to do something about them.

It occurred to me: How many facilities out there are in exactly the same situation? How many have been tarred by negative reports, negative perceptions, and generalized badmouthing, but were doing what they could to improve? Early reports from the federal government's Quality Improvement Initiative indicate a high level of interest among nursing homes in improving performance. Isn't this the kind of attitude you'd want displayed by someone caring for your loved ones in need?

Isn't it time, then, that these struggling but conscientious facilities went public with their efforts? If they're upgrading their physical environment, they should invite the community in for a tour. If they've improved the professionalism of their approach to pressure ulcers, dementia, or other clinical conditions, they should ask if they might present on this to local groups of healthcare professionals. If they feel that they have come up with a particularly enlightened approach to staffing, they should get the word out to employment agencies, job banks, and classified advertising departments.

In short, they shouldn't take the negativity lying down. Beyond trying to improve themselves every day, they should "tell the world" about their efforts and their results. Maybe they're not superperformers-yet-but they're trying to do a decent, respectable job. That simple message doesn't always get across in this field. Maybe things would start turning around for nursing homes if it did. NH
To comment on the editorial, please send e-mail to peck0403@nursinghomesmagazine.com.
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