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Seeking OPTIMA innovation

March 19, 2015
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Each year, Long-Term Living’s OPTIMA Award seeks out the brightest and best projects and programs that improve resident quality of life and embody the true spirit of person-centered care. This national competition began in 1996 to applaud innovative, resident-centered, outcomes-oriented programs and initiatives that encourage residents to live to their fullest abilities.

Great ideas can come from anywhere, and innovative programs can include a variety of departments, from clinical care to housekeeping and from social services to rehabilitation. Previous winners have created unique programs for memory care, developed trend-setting dining models and instituted educational programs for resident empowerment. They have embraced the values of person-centered care long before it was a national focus.

Our submission process is detailed on purpose, and it isn't pay-to-play. We ask for descriptions of the program's planning and implementation processes, so others can adopt the program ideas at their organizations. We ask about the interaction of teams—both administrative and clincial—to help others understand what success can mean when everyone has a stake in it. We ask for evidence of outcomes, because results matter, especially to residents.

Every submission is de-identified before it goes to our external panel of judges—to make sure each entry is judged on its program value, not by the name or reputation of the provider organization.

Two things really set OPTIMA winners apart: Their ability to think outside the box and their ability to show results. Many of the winners over the past 19 years started with a bold, untested idea and were brave enough to try it. Their dedicated teams were willing to tweak it, expand it, rework it or start all over again—whatever it took to get it right. In the end, the initiative’s results were worth it, and their achievement became a higher bar for the LTC industry to reach for.

Long-Term Living has a 64-year history of being the “how-to” innovation source for skilled nursing, and assisted living, rehabilitation, memory care and other residence settings that delivery quality care to seniors, and the OPTIMA Award is a yearly culmination of program excellence to be shared among our readership. Could your recent program initiative or project be the next OPTIMA winner?

Let the competition (and innovation) begin!

For more information, visit our OPTIMA Award program page.


pamela tabar


pamela tabar


Pamela Tabar is editor-in-chief of Long-Term Living. She has worked as a writer and...