It’s well known that one of the most important features of Green House Homes that created safer living environments for nursing home residents during COVID was that residents live in private rooms.
As reported in Skilled Nursing News Feb 25 article, now, in ground-breaking form, a non-profit Georgia nursing home provider will require that future buildings at its three campuses will be required have private rooms. This is a $35 million plan that was three years in the making. The new construction termed a Legacy of Care, will include a new skilled nursing and memory care community with concomitant renovations of its existing buildings.
The articles goes on to report that CEO for A.G. Rhodes Deke Cateau said, “I think we have to look at new models of care, we have to look at the markets in which each of these homes operate”. “Prior to Covid we operated at 95% occupancy … we think private room accommodations allow us to get back to those high occupancy numbers and as a nonprofit be able to serve more people in these markets.”
While private rooms are expected to stem the spread of future diseases and address the possibility that there will be long range effects of COVID-19 in long term care environments, the CEO went on to say that “the transition also serves to honor the dignity of residents as they age.” This is consistent with A.G. Rhodes whole person directed care philosophy.
A.G. Rhodes, long known as an innovator in care, is hoping that the move towards personalized living spaces which foster more independence and autonomy will be an example care that can be replicated throughout the city of Atlanta and the surrounding areas. It certainly is an example of what is possible with the right mindset.
Being a long-term care provider in an area with less population density is a factor that allows for this approach. But beyond the abundance of available land, A.G. Rhodes already had what could be a considered a culture representing true person-directed care as well as understanding that adequate training for staff caring for persons having dementia is essential.
A.G. Rhodes represents what’s possible when there is a mindset shift and proves change can happen. about change. It didn’t come easily or quickly. As Cateau said, “[We have] been on this journey for such a long time, trying to change that perception of the industry. This new project is simply another representation of that, moving away from the long corridors, long hallways and other relics of the traditional model.”
A.G. Rhodes is looking towards this initiative as a Legacy of Care. Let’s hope it sets a standard and will have onlookers believing that if they perceive their role in caring for older adults in a different manner, it will elevate the care provided and the environment in which it is provided.
Of course, the argument will be that, being a nonprofit organization, allows A.G. Rhodes luxuries and opportunities that are unaffordable in the for-profit model. The question then becomes, should the for-profit model be sustained as the primary care model in the over 15,000 nursing homes in this country, 70% of which are owned by for-profit chains where it seems care for the bottom line and profit margin takes precedence over resident care.
Cateau emphasizes this point when he said, “The involvement of our board as a nonprofit is so important. Our board chair challenged us to think about who the most vulnerable of the populations we serve were,” said Cateau, referring to the great-great grandson of A.G. Rhodes. “We, like many nursing homes, were very involved in rehabilitation care quite honestly because that helped the economies so much. He challenged us to think more mission driven than that.”
It is an open secret that rehabilitation reimbursement has been a driving force for nursing homes in over a decade and it became the foundation and proliferation of short-term rehabilitation units in nursing homes. That is essentially the point of entry. With the most reimbursement dollars recouped from Medicare beneficiaries.
The article reports that upon completion of the Legacy of Care project , A.G. Rhodes will be able to have private-memory care rooms which is crucial in providing safe environments for this population. In addition, they serve 500 seniors every year, including having a robust outpatient service delivery program. Valuing and respecting the needs of their employees is as an important ingredient in the A.G. Rhodes mode. Their intention is to expand employee training and throughout the process retain 167 full-time staff while creating new full-time positions.
This comes alongside ground-breaking news that the White House is rolling out a program for nursing home reform on Monday February 7.
The White House will target private equity firms which are at the core of the ownership of many nursing home chains and is believed to be the culprit that contributes to less than adequate care. It’s been estimated that private equity nursing home ownership has grown from $5 billion in 2000 to more than $100 billion in 2018.
However, research going back decades indicates that the government knew this was happening and allowed it to continue. Profiteers took advantage of what the government allowed them to do. It’s as plain as day to any observer familiar with the nursing home environment that these ownership structures value profit over care, which becomes the unfortunate reality for the people residing in these homes. A reality that leaves vulnerable and infirm adults at the poor end of the stick along with healthcare workers who feel equally abandoned in these environments: devalued, overworked, undertrained, and underpaid.
I’ve seen both sides of the equation; the not-for profit model with the right mindset about person-driven, person-centered care, extending not only to residents but the workers who care for them. and the for-profit model driven at every moment by how to extract the most from the system through reimbursements by providing the least, and at the same time extracting the most from workers whose main responsibility it is to care for vulnerable adults in these settings. It’s little wonder many get burned out, demoralized, become detached and distant from the caring experience.
For more information about nursing homes and what you can do to advocate for improved care for your loved one or find out how to go about finding the best place for your loved one’s care email:
Phyllis Ayman, Ambassador for Aging Life Management
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