John O'Connor illustration
McKnight’s Editorial Director John O’Connor

We humans seem oddly attracted to novel and new ideas. Especially those that promise to make things better.

Maybe that’s why we spend so much time reading articles that target desirables such as weight loss, increased wealth and unbridled happiness.

Sadly, much of the advice in those pieces tends to be ignored. Why? Because for all our good intentions, we remain largely creatures of habit. We generally don’t like to change those habits much, unless we absolutely have to. So a lot of good suggestions are underutilized. Or worse, never acted on at all.

I was thinking about this sad state of human affairs after reading a fascinating story by Kimberly Bonvissuto, a colleague. She was reporting on a research paper in the journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. Specifically, the JAMDA study examined ways assisted living could be improved.

In all, more than two dozen national experts weighed in. Here are their recommendations, which span across five key areas:

  • Models: promote consumer education, endorse standardized reporting, decouple services from housing, create person-centered models, and adopt quality measures that address social and health components.
  • Regulation: create regulations in partnership with stakeholders, encourage quality improvement initiatives, and examine outcomes related to regulations.
  • Financing: provide tax incentives and public subsidies, develop partnerships, and expand Medicaid coverage.
  • Residents: coordinate healthcare based on resident acuity, train all staff members on dementia care practices, reconsider segregated memory care, and prepare for increased resident diversity.
  • Workforce: embrace nursing home strategies, address training specific to assisted living, and establish acuity-based staffing recommendations.

What’s great about this report is that it offers so many specific ways assisted living can be improved. Any single item by itself can help. Collectively, they could significantly change the face of senior living — for the better.

Now if we could just start actually doing some of them…

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living and its sister media brands, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, which focuses on skilled nursing, and McKnight’s Home Care.

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