Detail from 2017 AMDA conference brochure.

A resolution calling for AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine to promote and advocate for an integrated care model in assisted living will be one of nine under consideration by the organization’s delegates in Phoenix next week during AMDA’s 2017 annual conference.

The move comes as assisted living communities increasingly find themselves “at the tenuous interface between residential and institutional settings” due to healthcare reforms, the resolution states.

“The position statement reflects the need for assisted living providers who would like to be engaged in the evolution of this value-based environment of accountable care to consider moving toward an integrated care model,” Kevin O’Neil, M.D., C.M.D., AMDA Board of Directors member and chairman of organizations’ Assisted Living Committee, told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Not to say that they need to become nursing homes, but being able to have the availability of onsite therapy and home health services and that type of thing. It’s not necessarily that they provide it themselves, but being a convener.”

The conference is March 16 to 19, with the House of Delegates meeting on the last day. If members approve the resolution, AMDA will work with stakeholders to develop policy statements and white papers sharing how integrated models of care can improve the health and wellbeing of residents by making care easily accessible and available at a lower cost than in other settings.

Today’s assisted living residents often have significant health challenges or cognitive impairment, said O’Neil, who is chief medical officer at Ascension Living. For many older adults, assisted living can offer a benefit over home care, he added: social support that enables interaction and prevents isolation.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity for those assisted living providers who create that integrated care model to really thrive,” O’Neil said. “In fact, we’re actually calling it the next big frontier for geriatric care, because as we move to less-expensive environments, assisted living, with the proper services, may be able to let some people bypass skilled nursing.”

An expanded focus

Originally focused on nursing home medical directors, AMDA in recent years has expanded its membership to include physician assistants, nurse practitioners, advanced practice nurses and allied health professionals who serve seniors in a variety of settings. New attention to assisted living has been building for the past few years as well.

“AMDA, along with its partners and collaborators, seeks to develop consensus on the best practices and models for an integrated model for healthcare delivery in assisted living, one that combines elements of a ‘social model’ and a ‘medical model,’ ” AMDA Executive Director Christopher Laxton, CAE, told McKnight’s Senior Living. “We are pursuing this through our annual assisted living summits, AL intensives at our annual conference and other initiatives. We see this is an imperative for us, if we are to advance our mission of improving the quality of care across the full spectrum of post-acute/long-term care settings.”

O’Neil said a third annual summit will take place at this year’s conference on March 17.

Additional assisted living-focused activities planned for the meeting include a March 16 educational session, “Integrated Care as a ‘New’ Model to Lead Assisted Living into the Future,” at which speakers will posit that assisted living needs to evolve to remain a viable residential choice for seniors.

Speakers in addition to O’Neil will be Steven Fuller, D.O., Ph.D., vice president and corporate medical director at Presbyterian Senior Living in Pennsylvania; Alan Kronhaus, M.D., co-founder and CEO of Doctors Making House Calls, which provides onsite care in more than 250 senior living communities across North Carolina; David Zimmerman, Ph.D., professor emeritus of industrial and health systems engineering and former director of the Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis at the University of Wisconsin–Madison; Lindsay Schwartz, Ph.D., senior director of workforce and quality improvement for the National Center for Assisted Living and chairwoman of the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living Board of Directors; and Loren Shook, a founder, CEO and chairman of Silverado and chairman of the Argentum Board of Directors.

Also, one of the 21 “In the Trenches” peer group roundtables offered March 18, led by O’Neil, will focus on assisted living.