Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Journey to Gold: Maine Veterans Home-Scarborough

By Nora Holliday DNS and Maureen Carland Administrator of Maine Veterans Home- Scarborough

When we began our Quality Award journey, we could not imagine the depths of self-examination nor the heights of pride in self-discovery that we would experience as a team.  As a result of following this quality process from bronze to silver to gold, we have built a stronger, more effective leadership team, but more importantly we learned how to reach out and include staff at all levels; residents past, present, and future; families; community partners; and other veteran advocates.  Our unique Governing Committees (composed of staff, residents, family, and community) is an important part of this process. This reaching out has created a palpable difference in the energy level permeating our facility.

Serving veterans, spouses and gold-star parents is a privilege and a trust we take very seriously.  Our vision, to be the veteran’s advocate goes far beyond providing excellent care.  We believe an active, varied social life paired with community involvement leads to higher levels of satisfaction and engagement.  The annual MaineVets 5K is but one example.  What began as a staff and resident activity with 65 participants has grown into a community event with a long list of local sponsors and over 300 participants, including many family groups pushing their loved-ones in wheelchairs. 

Another example of community involvement is the Living History project with the local middle school.  Students studying American History meet with our residents to learn about their military experiences, bringing history to life.  Several multi-generational friendships have grown out of this project. 

These are examples of how the Baldrige journey has set the framework for how we assess, plan, trial, and re-assess.  Out-of-the-box thinking is encouraged, and those twin phrases, “It’s against the regs,” and “We’ve always done it that way,” have been banned from use.  Now we say, “join a governing committee; let’s make it happen.”  Senior Leaders, who are charged with role-modeling for other staff, are much more open to suggestions and participation.   Collaboration has softened the old model of top-down hierarchy and created a much stronger team focus.

The different Baldridge categories became integral to our success. Strategy development, once a foreign language is now something staff understands. The level of engagement and excitement when staff members understand that they have a say in the future direction of the care process, is amazing to behold. Our workforce is an incredible group of dedicated, highly-trained staff.

Through the process of responding to the criteria from Bronze to Gold Award , we revamped our data collection system and data analysis.  It was an exciting challenge to dig for the best comparative data and the best way to use it to enhance quality of care as well as understanding our competitive situation. 

In short, every category, every question in the criteria shaped our journey toward excellence.  It was not an easy process.  It took years to complete.  With every step, we recognized something we were doing well or a process gap that needed improvement. We are a far better organization today because of this journey.

Is your center planning to apply for a 2017 AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award?  If so, be sure to submit your intent to apply here before the November 17 deadline to save up to $700 on the overall application fee and get weekly tips from Quality Award staff!  

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