Monday, May 14, 2007

Is anyone listening?

Anyone who attended the recent SORIM/LTC meeting in Tampa would come away thinking that the nursing home industry in the US was about to undergo a breathtaking change.
And that each and every nursing home was about to become a just-like-home place for their elders… bright, cheery, restaurant-style eating, many attentive employees, and round-the-clock activities for each elder’s individual desires.
SORIM stands for “Symposium on Regulatory Issues for Management in Longterm Care.” And it was an important event for nursing home managers such as DONs, directors of education, administrators, and so on.
Reason: Speakers were the top executives from CMS that develop and administer all the new guidelines and regs. So it gave nursing home managers a very unique opportunity to get one-on-one with these top regulators, to find out what’s really ahead for their industry.
The new CMS longterm care rules and regs are huge. They could, potentially, cause incredible changes in the nursing home industry: new activities guidelines that require person-centered activities for each and every resident, new pharmacy regulations that will make big changes in the physician/medical area, a huge “Culture Change” initiative whereby CMS would like every nursing home to become a much brighter, happier place and a whole lot more like a home environment… and much more.
Not to mention a computerized survey system whereby surveyors will arrive on your doorstep with no paper… only a laptop computer that’s pre-programmed with the official CMS survey procedures.
It was a great meeting, the speakers were interesting and forthright in their presentations, answered lots of questions, and so on.
Just one thing was missing.
The audience.
Only about 150 showed up… a shockingly low attendance for a meeting that launched what’s supposed to be a “sea change” in nursing home culture in the US.
If this kind of meeting had been held in any other profession… whereby the Feds described huge new rules that made changes in just about everything that profession does… there would’ve been thousands of screaming participants there.
Fact is, there seems to be a humongous amount of apathy in this profession to most anything the CMS does. For example, the CMS produced new person-centered Activities Guidelines last year that seemed to dictate huge changes for many Activities programs… and potentially causing a major upgrade in the AD profession, itself.
But, mostly, all that was greeted with a big yawn, as well. Attendance at many AD associations is still at rock-bottom, and many of the associations themselves are not getting nearly as excited about those big changes, as you might expect. And even many of the college educators in the AD profession… who are supposed to be the thought-leaders for everyone in it… don’t even seem to know about them.
Eldercare professionals either aren’t getting the message, don’t care, think the CMS can’t seriously implement this stuff, or think it’s all hopeless anyway, due to lack of funding or whatever.
This is a profession that you’d think would be at the very pinnacle of leadership in learning about the very latest that’s going on (because the very health of their patients depends on it) it’s very hard to understand.
Even those attendees at the SORIM meeting had no idea why more of their colleagues weren’t there… so it’s a real mystery.
It’ll be interesting to see how all this roles out, and what the state of affairs of eldercare actually is a few years from now. And if the CMS really will enforce it’s new rules.
It’ll be very interesting to see how all this rolls out, and what the nursing homes of the future really turn out to be. Will the CMS be able to enforce its many new rules… or not? We’ll see.

Bill Freiberg, Publisher
Current Nursing in Geriatric Care