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AAHSA Survey and Certification Task Force: 'The System Is Broken and Can't Be Fixed'

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 An independent, broad-based national expert panel should be convened to re-examine the oversight process for nursing homes, a task force from the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) concluded in its final report, "Broken and Beyond Repair: Recommendations to Reform the Survey and Certification System."



The report's 31 recommendations address short-term and long-term solutions, including improved communication to surveyors and providers about new requirements and changes to the survey process, standardized job descriptions for surveyors, more efficient use of survey resources, and flexibility to adapt to culture change. The task force's overarching recommendation is that an independent commission, such as the Institute of Medicine, reexamine the survey and certification process to "create a common vision for how our nation should care for its frailest citizens and to recommend a new oversight model for ensuring that this vision becomes reality in every nursing home today."



Bonnie Gauthier, CEO of Hebrew Health Care in West Hartford, Conn., and co-chair of the 20-member task force, acknowledged that "our short-term suggestions alone won't bring the system back to the intent of OBRA 87 -- achieving optimal, quality-based, resident-centered care -- but they will tide the system over until broad systemic change can occur." Immediate changes needed, according to the report, include better public reporting of survey results, joint education of providers and surveyors, and greater overall consistency in the process."



To inform its conclusions, the report includes a digest of interviews with survey agency representatives from seven states and a catalog of surveyor job descriptions from numerous states.



Timothy L. Veno, president and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (KAHSA) and a co-chair of the task force, said that "the frustration of good providers has reached a boiling point." Veno added, "We have to help shape a better system of consumer protection for residents."



Larry Minnix, AAHSA's president and CEO, said the task force captured the demoralization of providers who feel caught in a vicious circle. "We have to break the cycle of fear that paralyzes us all: consumers fear nursing homes, nursing homes fear the state, states fear the federal government, the federal government fears Congress and Congress fears voters," Minnix said. "This system is angry, broken and can't be fixed. A system based on consistency, fairness and accuracy will help us move toward the day when there are two types of nursing homes: the excellent and the non-existent."



Copies of the report are available on AAHSA's Web site at http://www.aahsa.org/advocacy/nursing_homes/documents/SCTF_Report_FINAL.pdf.



About AAHSA

The members of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (www.aahsa.org) help millions of individuals and their families every day through mission-driven, not-for-profit organizations dedicated to providing the services that people need, when they need them, in the place they call home. Our 5,800 member organizations, many of which have served their communities for generations, offer the continuum of aging services: adult day services, home health, community services, senior housing, assisted living residences, continuing care retirement communities and nursing homes. AAHSA's commitment is to create the future of aging services through quality people can trust.



SOURCE American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
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