Setting Industry Best Practices Has Benefi ts for All Communities

In each issue of Senior Living Executive magazine for 2020, John Schulte, Argentum’s vice president of quality improvement, will be presenting a look at an industry-wide quality issue and how communities can benefi t. He welcomes questions and comments at


f you had a way to assure residents, pro- spective residents, and family members that your community operates consis-

tent with best practices established by senior living experts, wouldn’t you do so? Would it help you to be able to provide

that same assurance to regulators, insurers, ombudsmen, and others? As a senior living executive or manager,

you know the quality of your community, and how much your team works to keep it strong. Maybe you have earned certifi ca- tions, such as Certifi ed Director of Assisted Living (CDAL), and won awards. Just as these eff orts contribute to the profession- alism of your community and your team, there are other opportunities. A family wants assurance that a com-

munity has legitimate best practices they’re living up to or going beyond. They want to know we deliver a consistently high level of quality. And they want this communicated without an alphabet soup of acronyms or medical terms. They want clarity. Unfortunately, some of these stakeholders

have seen negative media coverage or heard of tragic events in senior living communi- ties. Those messages can come through loud and clear—and they affect all our communities. When negative media or a tragic event oc-

curs, comments abound—in conversations, in online articles, and in social media: The arena where a name, fairly or not, can be elevated or broken. Many ask what the indus- try is doing about best practices and quality. Without recognized best practices that ev-

ery community can stand behind, it’s hard to answer those questions.

Key safety areas At the direction of our leadership, Argen- tum has been working on establishing in- dustry best practices since the end of 2015, with more than 2,000 communities from 47 states participating in our initial pilot program. The second part of this program involves

focusing on key safety areas in senior living, such as recognizing and preventing elder abuse, emergency preparedness, medication management, memory care, resident-cen- tered care, and others. Our initiative, SeniorLivingIQ: Investing

in Quality, and its website with download- able information on some of these safety issues, was launched in May of 2018. Currently, we’re developing best practices for senior living communities to provide a foundation for our eff orts to enhance indus- try quality and professionalism. These practices are being developed by

a diverse group of volunteer subject matter experts representing different disciplines and industry stakeholders, including nurses, risk managers, insurers, suppliers, pharma- cists, health care professionals, and others. This process is open to interested stakehold- ers regardless of whether they are members of Argentum. We're currently working to broaden the

coalition of stakeholders who are engaged in this process. But one thing is already decided: These best practices will acknowl- edge the great diversity and diff erences in our communities. They recognize the ex- isting high levels of quality in communities. Voluntary best practices can help opera- tors ensure their policies eff ectively address


John Schulte Vice President Quality Improvement Argentum

key risk areas. They don’t defi ne the pol- icies; they identify critical areas on which operators may want to focus.

A changing world We’re at a point where action has become essential. We’re facing occupancy concerns now and a growing number of older adults to come. Communities are developing new models and personalizing experiences. Workforce pressures call for effi cient on- boarding and ongoing training. News travels further and faster. These factors and more make this eff ort imperative. At the end of the day, this is about iden-

tifying best practices so communities have an agreed-upon, recognized benchmark for evaluating the quality of their operations. From there, operators can decide for them- selves whether to make changes to their communities’ operations. This is about the industry coming togeth-

er to build consensus around the right ways to operate, then holding ourselves account- able by following through on our commit- ment to residents. It's about contributing to the industry's positive reputation, long-term growth, and the success of your business.

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