2016-HHS Guidelines – Patient Access to Records

Back in the day, a person stayed with one doctor for many years.  Now, with changes in insurance and a transient population, changes in care providers is common.  Many times an Assisted Living resident may have a doctor they visit and then switch to a doctor that visits them.

It has become more important for patients to have access to their medical records so that they can share them with their new care-givers and doctors.

There was a dream of a national digital system for keeping records that would be accessible to any medical team.  Barriers appeared to block over-all access between providers and systems.  Now, patients want and need to keep their own medical records.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has issued new guidelines designed to make it easier for patients to access their medical records says Argentum (Formerly known as ALFA).

doctor-visitAccording to the guidelines, “doctors and hospitals can’t require patients to state a reason for requesting their records and can’t deny access because they believe a patient may be too upset by the information.”

The guidelines also say:

  • A health care provider can’t require patients to pick up their records in person if they ask to have them sent via mail or email, and can’t deny a request for access to health information if the patient has failed to pay medical bills.
  • A doctor or hospital may charge a fee for copying but can’t charge for the cost of searching for data and retrieving it.

Assisted Living Communities can encourage new residents, family members, the POA for Heath Care, to retrieve records for keeping and sharing with doctors.

Click here to learn more about the HHS HIPAA Law Guidelines.

Demographic Changes Call for RE-Thinking Staffing for Senior Housing

Demographic trends show the average and mean of the age of the US population getting older.  This is something to look forward to for those who own and operate Assisted Living Facilities.

japan-demographic-pyramidBut it also presents changes in who ALF owners and operators will be hiring and employing in the years to come.  Just as their is an increase in staffing needs there will be a reduction in the pool of workers age 18 to 62.

The PLUS side

The good news is that surveys and trends show that many people are planning on working long into their retirement years.  Whether it be because they can’t afford full retirement, they want to supplement their retirement income, or they just want to stay active and want to continue to use their talents in the work force.

Older workers may have impressive work histories, talents and experience that seem to make them over qualified for the work.  Both of you and the worker will need to adjust.

The ADJUSTMENT

Face it, both you and the older worker are coming in with old expectations that need to be adjusted.  The worker may be coming from a city with high-pay and a career with high responsibility.  They might be interested in reducing their stress, changing careers, but greatly cutting their pay is a harder pill to swallow.  The only way to get by this is to be open, honest, and frank without talking about age.

Ages is a protected class.  So don’t advertise that you are looking for “older employees” or that this position would be perfect “for retirees”.

Think about ways to attract older employees and keep employees working after their retirement age.

How?

Here are some tips:

SHIFTS

Split shifts in two or create more part-time shifts.  Many older workers can afford and desire part-time work.  The eight hour day my be too exhausting, but the 4 or 6 hour day is just right.  Current employees reaching retirement age may want to reduce their hours in phases.  Talk to them!

TIME OFF

Older employees may want more time off.  The good news is that their vacation time will be unpaid if they are working part-time.

PHYSICAL WORK

Making beds all day might be too difficult for some people.  Think about how you might divide up the work so that some positions have less physical work than others.  Make sure that if an employee become less able they are able to move over into positions with less physical work.

REWARDING WORK

An older worker might continue to work because of the feeling they get from their contribution.  They might enjoy the interaction with residents and other staff.  Provide opportunities for the staff to bond through meals, charity work, and recognition.  This is good for all the workers and for the culture of the facility.

support-for-seniorRESPECT

Know the work history of your employees.  They may have talents that are well above their position at your community, but would be willing to utilize that skill for a short-term project or to mentor another staff person.

West Central Solutions, Inc. helps owners of privately held Assisted Living Facilities with project management and on-going operations.  

If you would like to learn more about the topic of the post-retirement worker, here is an article about the mature job seeker in Florida.

 

What One Thing Brings Holiday Cheer to Employees?

Yes!  There is one thing that ALF owners and senior living managers can do to make employees cheer at holiday time.

It is coming to the end of the year and big holiday celebrations. This is the perfect time to spend some relaxed time with your employees, getting to know them. This enhances relationships and builds relationship equity.

Holiday-snow-man

So how do you do this when the budget is tight with holiday pay and employees cashing in their vacation time?

 

 

 

 

Have a POTLUCK.

Don’t use the time to give speeches…

Well, not unless the speech is short and it is full of thanks.   Maybe, if you had a good year or overcame obstacles it is time to remember how great your team is and what you have accomplished.

But keep it short.

Holiday_Potluck

POTLUCKS are affordable ways to increase bonds, build employee engagement and strengthen relationships. All of which reduces employee turnover.

Remember to make holiday time all inclusive. We all think our belief is the right belief yet it is important to remember and respect that others can hold different beliefs. Help all employees feel welcome by including their holidays and traditions throughout the year. More opportunities for POTLUCKS!

And speaking of inclusive…. remember the night staff! Stagger the times of Potlucks or have more than one in a week at holiday time. One for each shift where the owner and/or administrator shows up to chat, give thanks and appreciation.

 

And what better way to bond that by breaking bread together.

Take pictures and share them on the employee bulletin board.

ALF Consultant Potluck Collage4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHO PAYS ??–

Don’t feel that you have to sponsor the main course every time.   If you have enough employees there will be plenty of food without a main course.   If you have enough employees, three or more can go together on providing the main course.

Employees will spend this time together off the clock if they normally take an “off the clock break”.   What we have done in the past is make the speech or any presentation “on the clock” (paid) and the eating and chatting part “off the clock” (unpaid).

West Central Solutions wishes for you that your 2016 is Full of Fun Potlucks with great conversations, laughter, and good food.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

balls-christmas

West Central Solutions provides project management and on-going oversight to owners of privately held assisted living facilities.  Sign up to receive more of Theressa’s Tips on Senior Housing… learn more.

Encourage Your Seniors to Get Their Shingles Vaccine

Study Shows Shingles Can Be Deadly, Vaccine Shown to Reduce Odds

If you love and/or care for someone over 60, ask them, “Have you had your shingles vaccine yet?”

Here is a simple flyer on the Shingles Vaccine to share with the Seniors in your life.

vaccine-shingles-senior-health-needleResearchers reported on December 15, 2015 that a study found that shingles isn’t just painful. It can cause death through heart attack and stroke.

We have all heard of or known someone who got Shingles. It is a very painful illness that can do more than cause pain in the elderly that contract it. Researchers found that the elderly were more than twice as likely to have a stroke and almost twice as likely to have heart attack in the first week of symptoms.

Shingles is also called herpes zoster and is caused by the same virus that causes childhood chicken pox.

 

Currently there is a vaccine that can reduce your risk of contracting the illness by 51%. An NBC article reported that Zostavax is only about 70% effective and this efficacy drops to below 40 percent in people 70 years old or older. This vaccine has very little side effects.

senior-woman-receiving-a-vaccination-shot-from-her-doctorOn the horizon is a new vaccine that seems to work better than the current vaccine, protecting more than 97% of people against the condition – even the very oldest.

 

The vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, isn’t on the market yet. More advanced trials are still needed. This new vaccine has some side effects that some in the study reported as severe.

Risk of shingles increases as people get older. The CDC recommends that people 60 years old and older get shingles vaccine to prevent shingles.

shingles-pdf-flyer

 

Download our flyer to inform your residents and staff about the Shingles vaccination.

 

 

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Thanksgiving — 3 Ways to Thank Caregivers

This Thanksgiving we will be pausing and giving thanks. Not only for our health, our families and friends, and our country….

Young care assistant introducing herself.

We are sooo grateful for the staff and volunteers who care for those who need a little or a lot of help.  From the person who mops up the spill to the person who fixes the meals, does the laundry, holds the hand, and wipes the bottom,  THANK YOU.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to:

“Express our gratitude to those who care for others as a profession or as volunteers. Compliment the good works of caregivers for our children and frail elders…..those caring individuals who clean the bottoms of babies and the bed-ridden, and help nurture and stimulate their minds. They deserve the kindnesses of family members and neighbors all through the year, but especially at holiday time.”  Jack Levine, 4Generations Institute

reviewing-2

Think of specific things they do that are helpful, then describe it and say thanks!

 

A kind word that is not a general thanks but a specific observation can light up a person’s day.  We don’t do this often enough.  “Carol, I have seen how you listen carefully to Jane and be so patient with her.  Thank you for showing the care that makes this place a special place for our residents.”

 

Color it!

IMG_0548

Write it down in a colorful 3×5 card, draw stick figures of what they do well or color them a flower that they can post on their wall and look at again and again.  You are taking the time to –  notice and appreciate.  That is what counts, not your artistic talent.

Picture it!  Catch them doing something great and take a picture of them doing it.
Give them a copy and tell them how the work they do is important to creating a special home for the residents and good place to work for the staff.
IMG_0573

If it is shareable, ask them permission to share it on facebook or in promotions because what they do is so important to making the building a cozy and caring home.

 

So this week be sure to give thanks.  And mark time in your calendar to observe every week to observe and give thanks.   We must continue every week to not only observe and appreciate, but to let those front-line workers, the managers and administrators of our independent living, assisted living, memory care, and palliative care know… we see you, we appreciate what you do.

Be a Champion and Meet the Demand for Senior Housing

What are you doing to prepare for the Silver Tsunami?

The first of the Baby Boomers are now Retiring. The average age of entering Assisted Living is 82 to 86. So we have about 20 years to prepare for large increase in demand for senior housing and senior care.

The biggest challenge will not be building enough units. It will be providing affordable care, and training, maintaining and retaining the best staff.

At a November 2015 Florida Assisted Living Association Meeting in Citrus County Florida, West Central Solutions’ President, Theressa Foster, spoke to the professionals about some ideas for meeting the challenges ahead.

We condensed it into this 2 minute video.

New challenges are ahead for the Administrators and Owners of Senior Housing. Combining child care and elder care has been shown to enhance the lives of seniors and the children. This kind of arrangement will also help our front-line staff stay working for us longer.

What other ways can we help address the coming staff shortage? Let’s put our heads together and come up with ideas that will work to reduce costs, improve care, be respectful to residents, and meet the increasing demands.

If you want to see Theressa’s full 11 minute presentation, press play…

ALF Learning Opportunities – November 2015

We would like to share with you two great opportunities to learn and grow… and maybe enjoy some moments with others who are experiencing some of the same things as you.

One is for Caretakers of those with Dementia and One is for Owners, Administrators, and Managers of Assisted Living Facilities.

EVENT #1

“Being in a Business that Caters to Senior Housing and How to Be a Champion in Our Industry”

This is FALA meeting that West Central Solutions is proud to host.  It will be held on November 10th, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. at Tuscany on the Meadows in Hernando, Florida.

Theressa Foster, will be sharing some of her vast wisdom at the event.  You won’t want to miss it.  Check out the flyer.

FALA invite – November 2015-11

RSVP to Charlie at 727-942-1993

 

EVENT #2

“Creativity in Dementia Care” is about using Art and Poetry and more in the care of those with Dementia.

The event for caretakers of those with Dementia is a FREE event sponsored by Elder Options and United Health Care.  It will be held on November 12th, 2015 at 8:30 to 2 p.m. in Gainesville.

Creativity in Dementia Care 2015

Sounds like a fun time! Register by calling Tom at 352-692-5226.

Veterans’ Village – Home for Our Heros

Citrus County, Florida Looks at Proposed Assisted Living Community for Veterans

Veteran-flag

We learned recently of the efforts in our home community to build an affordable Assisted Living Community for Veterans.  The proposed site sits adjacent to the current Veterans Assistance Community Clinic in Lecanto, Florida.

As a management/consultant company specializing in Assisted Living Facilities, West Central Solutions is particularly aware of the cost effective model of Assisted Living and how its combination of independence, assistance and social interaction provides quality of life for seniors.  Too often seniors become isolated as their ability and mobility decrease.  Our veterans deserve affordable Assisted Living, a home that focuses on their whole person – physical, emotional, and social.

The facility will be an Assisted Living Facility for those that need assistance with daily living (ADL), but do not need the skilled nursing care that is provided in Nursing Homes.  Assisted Living costs much less than Nursing Home Care.  A Nursing Home in and around Citrus County has an average cost of about $8,000 a month.

What is the difference?

ASSISTED LIVING:

A resident of Assisted Living must be able to dress themselves.  Someone can provide direction and guidance, but the resident themselves are able to put their own legs in the pants (for example) or take the pill cup from the assistant and put the pills in their mouth themselves.  Assisted Living is mostly private pay, but there are other possible sources of assistance including VA benefits and Managed Care (a Medicaid diversion program).

NURSING HOME:

A Nursing Home is a skilled facility based on a medical model which means it can provide hands-on assistance with bathing, dressing, eating and more.

 

 

supportVETERANS SPECIAL NEEDS

Veterans need a safe environment that accommodates their special issues related to war.  There is no special license to specialize in Veteran Care, just as there is no such requirement for an Assisted Living Facility to provide Memory Care. But there is special training for those who work in a memory care unit. So a facility like Veterans Village would have staff trained on caring for combat veterans. Veterans’ Village will cater the housing design and staff to ensure our Veterans needs are met.

Between 2009 and 2013 Citrus County was home to about 21,000 vets, now estimated to be about 27,000. As our soldiers return for overseas with brain injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, back and other traumatic injuries, many of them will need the kind of help that a facility like this could provide them. It will help them retain dignity, some cherished independence, and quality of life.

Socializing is vital to anyone. For veterans who are suffering from various mental health and physical issues related to war, social interactions are therapeutic and necessary. This community will embrace them and help them thrive in a safe social environment with the care designed for their needs.

The facility will also have a positive economic effect on Citrus County — provide jobs in the short term for construction, and create 35 to 40 full-time direct and indirect jobs for every 100 veteran’s housed.

Assisted Living Management Company Assembles Advisers

Advisory Team to Lend Expertise to Assisted Living Management Company

What do a CPA, a lawyer, an RN, a psychiatrist and a general contractor have in common? They all are advisers to West Central Solutions, Inc. a Citrus County Florida based, woman-owned, senior housing management company.

Intro Assisted Living Management Advisors-edit

The initial meet and greet gathering May 26, 2015 was held at Tuscany on the Meadows in Hernando, FL. Theressa Foster, president of West Central Solutions addressed the diverse group.

Theressa shown here with Dr. Gurnani, Psychiatrist, Advisor specializing in Geriatric Care.

Theressa shown here with Dr. Gurnani, Psychiatrist, Advisor specializing in Geriatric Care.

“To succeed I know I must surround myself with smart people,” said Theressa Foster “I chose you for your expertise in your field, you intelligence, and your compassion for seniors. Thank you for your willingness to share your knowledge and experience with us.”

Advisors Group Assisted Living Consultants

From Left to Right

Back row name and expertise: Dale Marie Merrill, Legal; John Comer, Accounting; Mike Orlito, Small Business Consultant; Sue Hnat, representing families of seniors; Lynne West, Hospice Care; Jeanne Green, Chamber Ambassador; Dr. Parmanand Gurnani, Senior Mental Health; Michael Wilburn, Construction.

Front row is the West Central Solutions team: Yolanda Lusher, Senior Housing Consultant; Theressa Foster, President/Owner; Susan Straley, Assistant to the President.

Not shown but also Advisers are: Greg Kell, Spiritual; Dean Dickmann, Business.

West Central Solutions provides management and oversight to privately held Assisted Living Facilities in Florida and Colorado. The company is a member of Florida Assisted Living Association, an A rated member of the Better Business Bureau, and active in both the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Hernando County Chamber.

The President serves on several community boards.

 

West Central Solutions Joins Hernando County Chamber

The senior housing consultant company, West Central Solutions, joined the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce in May, 2015.

Hernando-chamber-logo

“We have been active members of the Citrus County Chamber, but our business is not restricted to Citrus County,” said Theressa Foster, President of West Central Solutions.

Theressa-linkedin

West Central Solutions provides oversight, consulting and facility management services for privately owned Assisted Living Facilities.

“One of the tasks we help  the facility with is finding the right persons with the needs that fit the facility’s specialties.  In doing this we help the facility and we help the seniors,” said Foster.

Young care assistant introducing herself.

The Senior Housing Consultants match the needs of the senior with the expertise and competency of the facility and staff of the assisted living homes.

One of these “match-makers” is Yolanda Lusher.  Lusher is a Senior Housing Consultant for the company.

yolanda-senior-housing-citrus-county

Yolanda will be networking at the Hernando County Chamber events.  She is interested in making connections with other businesses in the Senior Health Care industry in Hernando County and surrounding areas.  “I am passionate about continuity of care,” Lusher said.  “I am not going to suggest a home for a senior unless I know the facility will meet their needs for a long time.  Moving is stressful, so I want to do what I can to make sure they don’t have to move again in a few months.”

Lusher’s position focuses on helping the family members of seniors.  When the senior starts showing signs of needing assistance with the tasks of daily living, family members may feel stressed.  They family may be from out of town or may not know how to pick a facility that will meet the needs of their loved one.

Lusher is an experienced professional, with a background in assisted living facility administration.  She knows what to look for, and can help families sort through all their choices in Assisted Living Facilities.

“Doctors, health-care workers, and lawyers may find themselves working with a family in need of assisted living for their loved ones.  I want them to know about the valuable service we provide that is free to the senior.  I want them to know that they can feel good about sharing our name with their patients and clients,” said Lusher.

The service to seniors and their families is provided at no cost to the senior.  West Central Solutions receives compensation from the partner facilities once the senior is established in their new home.

West Central Solutions meets the standards set by AHCA, is a member of the Florida Assisted Living Facility and has an “A” rating with the Better Business Bureau.