Championing Excellence Through Partnerships

October 3, 2019

in Organization News

Championing Excellence Through Partnerships

No man is an island. Dr. Sara Hamm, senior vice president of successful aging and health services at Lifespace Communities, invokes the famous saying when explaining why the senior living provider is keen to partner with like-minded organizations in pursuit of excellence in providing a quality living and care experience.

“We’re incredibly proud of the difference we’ve made and what we’ve achieved through the years,” she said. “However, tapping into the resources and expertise of others who are just as passionate and dedicated to serving older adults ensures we’re able to provide the best possible care and services for residents. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

This philosophy is what’s behind Lifespace’s relationship with the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration in Long Term Care (NADONA), American Association of Post-Acute Care Nurses (AAPACN), LeadingAge, the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA), and Masterpiece Living®.

Advancing Nursing Practices with NADONA

Lifespace has been a longtime NADONA member. The group assists with nursing education efforts, certifications and other support needs, while offering programs and tools to aid in compliance with regulations set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. NADONA also hosts an annual conference that serves as an educational and networking hub for nurses, which Lifespace participates in regularly.

“NADONA has been a great resource for gaining information about current senior living and long-term care evidence-based research and best practices,” said Josie Enriquez, Lifespace regional director of health services. “Our nurses have shown great interest in grasping the knowledge and applying it at their respective communities.”

The enthusiasm is evident in various NADONA recognitions that Lifespace earned in 2019.
Stacy Strait, RN, MSN, clinical nurse specialist at Oak Trace in Downers Grove, Illinois, was named Antibiotic Stewardship Infection Control Nurse of the Year (Sponsored by Ocean Spray®) for her excellent work in establishing and refining an antibiotic stewardship program at her community. Both Oak Trace and Claridge Court, located in Prairie Village, Kansas, received Deficiency Free Survey Awards for deficiency-free inspections from their respective states’ departments of health. And Jean Steiner, the director of nursing at Friendship Village of South Hills in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania, received the Stephanie Carroll Memorial Scholarship Award for Nursing Education, offering her financial aid as she completes her bachelor’s degree at Penn State University.

“We were all truly humbled because they’re national honors, which have higher levels of evaluation,” said Diane Baker, Claridge Court’s director of nursing. “At Claridge Court and Lifespace as a whole, we strive for the excellence to ensure we exceed the expectations of our residents and their families.” 

Advocating for Seniors through LeadingAge

Unlike NADONA, which is solely focused on the nursing profession, LeadingAge advocates
for nonprofit senior living providers across the industry. Representing more than 6,000 organizations nationwide, it offers leadership and education programs for senior care professionals, advocates against ageism through education and public affairs, supports the development of technology to improve the aging experience, helps develop services that support those living with Alzheimer’s disease, and much more. Many regions have statewide LeadingAge chapters that do similar work on a more localized level, and Lifespace is actively engaged at the state and national levels.

Lifespace team members have embraced LeadingAge as an important resource at their respective communities. Most notably, LeadingAge Illinois recently elected Blaire Goldstein, the executive director at Oak Trace, to its board of directors. Jocelyn “Joy” Russo, a certified nursing assistant at the community, concurrently received the association’s 2019 Heart and Hands Award for her exemplary service to residents. This is in addition to the many Lifespace leaders who regularly attend the LeadingAge Annual Meeting & EXPO for education and networking purposes.  

“We’re committed to continually evolving into the best we can be for the people we serve,” said Ann Walsh, Lifespace senior vice president of operations. “LeadingAge is a strong partner when it comes to that, because they’re always thinking ahead with the initiatives they undertake.”

AHCA/NCAL and Its Focus on Quality Measures

AHCA/NCAL advocates for quality care and services for older adults by providing information, education and administrative tools to the government, business leaders and the public. Lifespace is one of its 13,500 members nationwide. Part of the AHCA/NCAL’s key advocacy initiatives is its National Quality Award Program, which outlines ambitious criteria for quality improvement among participating organizations. The health center at The Waterford in Juno Beach, Florida, earned the Bronze – Commitment to Quality Award in 2019 – a first for a Lifespace community. The honor is the first of three progressive levels of recognition, which Lifespace is taking the appropriate steps to earn for all its health centers in the future.

“We’re proud of The Waterford for leading by example and working closely with the AHCA/NCAL to further advance its quality of care,” said Hamm, who compared the National Quality Award Program to Masterpiece Living’s Centers for Successful Aging (CSA) initiative.

Promoting Health and Wellness Alongside Masterpiece Living

Masterpiece Living, which partners with Lifespace in support of successful aging initiatives, awards the annual CSA distinction to organizations nationwide that demonstrate exemplary initiative in six categories: culture, leadership, outreach, team member engagement, resident engagement and purposeful programming.

Five Lifespace communities have earned CSA distinctions: Querencia at Barton Creek in Austin, Texas; Beacon Hill in Lombard, Illinois; Friendship Village of Bloomington in Bloomington, Minnesota; Friendship Village of South Hills in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania; and The Stayton at Museum Way in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s a strong showing for the organization, given that there are fewer than 20 CSA-certified communities nationwide.

Given the expanded assisted living and memory care programs at Lifespace, the organization will also be joining the American Assisted Living Nursing Association (AALNA) in 2020, and Hamm was recently appointed to serve on the AALNA advisory board.

“Such partnerships offer great incentive and support that we’re more than happy to incorporate into Lifespace’s operations and culture,” added Hamm. “We can achieve a lot alone, but forming relationships with these organizations has been crucial to evolving our expertise and striving for higher levels of excellence. Residents and team members benefit greatly, and that’s what it’s all about.”

[In photo: Dr. Sara Hamm mingles with a resident during a community visit.]

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