By Susan Saldibar

I’m a Yellowstone junkie.

One of my favorite episodes was about the (fictitious) Four Sixes Ranch in Texas. In Yellowstone-land the Four Sixes is considered the crème de la crème of cattle ranches — way more than a cut above the others. You have to earn your right to cowboy there. And everyone looks at a Four Sixes employee with awe and envy. They walk on water.

But maybe you’ve never seen the show. So here’s the point. The Four Sixes set standards well above others. They ran the tightest of tight ships. Everyone worked harder at Four Sixes. And everyone dreamed of working there.

Is Arrow Senior Living the Four Sixes of senior living?

All I know is that they get accolades from all over the country. They have set standards well above the others. People want to live there. And people want to work there.

How are they doing it?

They got there by doing a lot of stuff right, even if it was harder to do. And here’s what really propelled them to the top.

They decided to get even better than the best. So they dove head first into accreditation. More specifically, they embraced the Joint Commission’s standards by partnering with Achieve Accreditation (a Foresight partner.)

For those of you pumping the brakes here, have I got a Foresight TV for you. 

Steve Moran spoke with Achieve Accreditation’s Kathleen O’Connor and Arrow Senior Living’s Stephanie Harris. It’s worth taking 30 minutes to tune into the video and hear what someone who actually went through the process has to say.

And if you think accreditation is just for hospitals, “you have it wrong, my friend,” Kathleen says. She’s been doing this for 35 years. And, just in the last five years, skilled nursing has embraced and grown 70% with accreditation. Assisted living is now getting into accreditation, and it is also headed “off the charts,” as Kathleen says.

Skilled nursing is facing staffing shortages, tough regulations, and bankruptcy. 

So, while just checking boxes may keep you out of the regulation hellhole, you are going to need to be spectacular to succeed, maybe even to survive.

Getting that third party validation that you’re setting the stage for the best possible outcomes is a huge step.

Some argue, “We’re already doing ‘quality.’ It’s an unnecessary expense.”

Go ahead. But if you want better outcomes, you have to invest. As Stephanie points out, if you don’t invest in top quality outcomes, then you’ll end up investing in poor quality outcomes in the form of litigation, loss of staff, and who knows what else?

And there are plenty of rewards Arrow enjoyed. To name a few:

  • The announcement alone got attention. It said something about the culture and goals of their organization.
  • Created a mind shift among employees.
  • Took people out of their silos.
  • Sifted out what Stephanie calls “settlers,” those employees who look at their work as a time-money exchange.
  • Made the great people even greater.
  • Gave them a strong leg up with referral agents. (Think of telling a discharge agent, “We’re the only SNF that is accredited by the Joint Commission.”)
  • Took them up to the next level. And then some.
  • Showed the field that “we’re better” than everyone else.
  • Showed the field that “we hold ourselves to ‘achievable optimums’ and didn’t settle for the minimal level of compliance!”

And what do you think accreditation does to attract new talent?

Will they want to work for a company that says, “We’re great at being average,” or one that says, “We want to be the very best?”

Achieve Accreditation are the “how-to” people, your project managers. So they not only look at all the standards for improvement, they know the standards that will get you the most play.

They recommend a six-month commitment, but it’s up to the community. It’s not about just doing well on a survey, it’s about improving your culture of quality and safety in a way that is sustainable. This is a forever, continuous improvement journey.

Know before you say “no.” 

Watch the video. Then take a hard look at accreditation. Find out what your competitors are doing. Give Achieve Accreditation a call.

If you decide not to do it, make sure you are really okay with that choice. It could come back to bite you.