March 22, 2019 - 9:00am
They say numbers can tell a story. Inspired to find out what exactly they show, Florida Health Care Association decided to take stock of our state’s level of quality care at long-term care centers. The result? Consistent improvement for Florida’s vulnerable aging population, thanks to dedicated caregivers and smart funding decisions by our state’s lawmakers.
Through a comprehensive study of state-by-state data, the Quality Care Report assesses improvements being made by long-term care centers in Florida, highlighting progress and pinpointing where further development is warranted. What we found was that quality care in Florida is good – and on the rise.
From 2014 to 2018, Florida jumped from 16th in the nation into the Top Ten in overall quality, currently earning its ranking as 7th best in the four national indicators used by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to assess states’ overall quality care performance.
In the same four-year span, Florida saw double-digit jumps in progress, improving by an average of 3.8 ranking positions on the 35 indicators for which trend data is available. These increases include a 20-position improvement in the use of physical restraints among long-stay residents, a 17-position improvement in the use of antipsychotic medication, and a 15-position gain in certified nursing assistant (CNA) staffing hours per resident day.
While we are certain our caregivers are among the best and most hard-working in the nation, none of these improvements could have been possible without the resources provided by the Florida Legislature.
To maintain the kind of long-term care system that has the best nurse staffing rates among the nation’s 10 largest states and continues to make measurable quality improvements, Florida must allocate appropriate resources. Training programs, exceptional staff, upgraded equipment – all of these result in the highest level of quality care for our residents. However, they each require additional funds to implement and maintain.
Behind the stars, rankings, averages, and accolades, there are real people who give and receive quality care every day. The long-term care profession employs nearly 260,000 Floridians to care for approximately 73,000 residents – that’s one-third of a million people who must be invested in, whose work and care must be prioritized.
One in five current Floridians is age 65 or older, and the state’s aging population is only going to continue to grow. With so much to attract people to Florida, including a high-performing system of long-term care, our state is a natural target for those looking ahead to their long-term care needs. The Florida Health Care Association wants to see that trend to continue. Through dedicated caregivers and resourceful lawmakers all working toward the highest possible level of quality care, we believe it will.
Patti Spears is administrator of Oakbrook Health and Rehabilitation Center, a CMS five-star rated 93-bed nursing center in LaBelle, and the Florida Health Care Association Legislative Committee Chair.