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Mary O'Hara

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Can Home-Delivered Meals Improve Your HCAHPS Score?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Hospital-Post-Discharge-Meals.jpgThe Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is the survey used to measure patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. The survey asks discharged patients 32 questions about their recent hospital stay. Patient perceptions and experiences directly impact your facility’s Medicare reimbursement

Patient satisfaction is a top priority. You can no longer focus only on patient procedures, diagnoses, and outcomes. You must consider how pleasant and comfortable the patients’ hospital stay is.

A positive hospital-patient relationship can instill trust and loyalty, which results in higher HCAHPS scores. A hospital’s reputation in the community may influence consumers, who have choices in their healthcare. It’s estimated that 67 percent of patients select where they want to go for medical care. 

Shifting Priorities

 “The patient experience in healthcare is ultimately the human experience," states Jason Wolf, PhD., president of the Beryl Institute. Research from the Beryl Institute shows: 

  • Patient experience remains a top priority around the world and throughout the continuum of care. 
  • Organizations are investing in providing a great experience for patients.  Currently, 42 percent of healthcare institutions have a chief experience officer role. In 2013, that number was only 22 percent, and the trend is growing. 

In 2013, one of the main goals of hospitals was to reduce noise. The focus has shifted now to making the following top priorities:

  • Service
  • Communication
  • Patient voice
  • Compassion
Hospital employee engagement programs are growing. Engaged employees are a key factor in driving a positive patient experience.  Every interaction with a patient matters. 

Care Transitions

Your transitional care plan can add to the positive experience for your discharged patients. The HCAHPS survey includes questions relating to care transitions:

During my hospital stay, staff took my preferences and those of my family or caregiver into account in deciding what my health care needs would be when I left.

Some things to consider before your patients return home: 

Will your patients have access to nutritious meals at their home? Weight loss and poor nutrition intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This could result in longer, more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relapse and readmission.

Do patients have family members to assist with grocery shopping and preparing hot meals? Preparing meals can be difficult for those recovering from a hospitalization, surgery, or illness.

When I left the hospital, I had a good understanding of the things I was responsible for in managing my health.

Patients will have a more positive experience of their stay if they feel the hospital still cares about them after they are discharged.

Are they aware of any dietary restrictions they may have?

Does their health plan include a post-discharge home-delivered meal benefit? If it doesn't, many hospitals are now providing meals post hospital discharge. This benefit is another way to boost the patient experience. Post-hospitalization programs that include the management of nutritional status and depression may reduce hospital readmissions. 

Nutrition care is a key component to improving patient outcomes. Malnutrition is one of the greatest contributors to hospitalizations and readmissions. 

Home-delivered meals can help extend a positive experience beyond your facility. Patients who receive home-delivered meals after hospitalization regain their strength and energy faster. Well-nourished post-discharge patients are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

Providing post-discharge meals can help ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home. 

Download White Paper: Transitional Care: Is Your Model Missing a Key Component?  

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Post Discharge

Beyond the Sneaker - Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 8, 2017 11:00:00 AM


Silver Sneaker.pngSeniors have many choices when selecting Medicare Advantage health plans. Many plans include supplemental benefits like vision, dental, and fitness plans.

But, what do seniors really want from their health plans? They want benefits that help them maintain their independence and stay in their own homes. For many seniors, preparing meals after a hospitalization may be difficult. Many don’t have families who are nearby.

What do Members Look for in Supplemental Benefits?

In today’s market you need to ensure you’re providing the best member experience – while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

  • Home-delivered meals can reduce hospitalizations by 50 percent.
  • Members who receive home-delivered meals after a hospital stay regain their strength and energy faster.
  • Studies show nutrition assistance like home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.

Members like having a home-delivered meal benefit. In fact, 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients report this benefit gives them the independence they want.

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals after a hospitalization or as part of chronic disease management, maximize member outcomes, while reducing healthcare costs.

Nutrition care:

  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risk of complications
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Improves overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic diseases

Home-delivered meals can help improve patient outcomes after an acute stay. Members with chronic illnesses will appreciate the ease and convenience that home-delivered meals provide.

Home-Delivered Meals Can Improve Star Ratings

Offering home-delivered meals as a benefit may lead to more satisfied members. This benefit may mean better star ratings for your plan. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will use 2017 star ratings to determine the bonuses it will pay to insurers in 2018.

McKinsey & Co. determined the top three domains that influenced scores. Take a look at how home-delivered meals can help boost your ratings:

chart.jpg

Health plans that added post-discharge meals and chronic disease management meals to their supplemental benefits saw a 3:1 return on investment.

Offer your members a benefit that will make your plan standout from the rest!

  Download White Paper - Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post Discharge Meals


    

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior health plans

Can Home-Delivered Meals Attract Members to Your Health Plan?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jan 6, 2017 9:59:35 AM

Baby Boomers.jpgNo one does their homework before buying better than a baby boomer. Just like buying a car or shopping online, when faced with the decision to select their health plans, research is a top priority.

Before choosing a Medicare Advantage plan, today's seniors are exploring all of their options. They take their time to compare healthcare plans and ask their friends and neighbors for recommendations. 

Today's Seniors Want More
Health plans with dental, vision, and gym membership benefits are more attractive to baby boomers. Boomers know that eating healthy and staying active are ways to prevent chronic health conditions. They are a generation of optimism, exploration, and achievement. Health and wellness, community involvement, and individual choice are key values. And they know eating well can help them to stay active. 

Baby boomers understand the importance of good nutrition. Home-delivered meals can make a benefit package more desirable. Sixty-five percent of boomers say they are living in the best homes of their lives and plan to stay. Their goal is to remain independent in their homes. Ninety-two percent of home-delivered meal recipients report this benefit gives them the independence they want.

Why Home-Delivered Meals?

Up to 60 percent of older adults may become malnourished during their hospitalization, which can lead to increased readmissions.  Preparing meals can be difficult for those recovering from a hospitalization, surgery, or illness.

  • Adequate nutrient intake through meals help seniors regain their strength faster.
  • Studies show nutrition assistance like home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls of the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.
  • Weight loss can result in a 26 percent increase of the risk for hospital readmissions.   

Meals as a Benefit

Adding a home-delivered meal benefit to your plan will help you attract more members. And healthier members leads to reduced healthcare costs. Check back next week for an article on improving your star ratings! 

Download our eBook for more information.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior health plans

5 New Year's Resolutions Caregivers Should Not Make

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Dec 29, 2016 2:00:00 PM

 

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  1. The New Year provides an opportunity for new beginnings! The secret of making resolutions is to keep them reasonable. Don't place unreachable goals on yourself. Think of things you can do to change for the better and to make your life easier.

    Resolve for 2017 to take better care of you! To keep more balance in your life, here are five things you shouldn’t do:

    1. Over Schedule Your Time. 

  2. It’s important to not let others take advantage of your time and kindness. Schedule time to enjoy hobbies and pursue your interests. Consider finding a reliable person a few hours a week to provide respite care, giving you some free time. Professional respite care is also available for longer periods of time. Providing companionship for your loved one will give you a break, making you a better caregiver.

    2. Neglect Your Friends.

  3. Caregivers need to maintain a network of support and friendship. Friends can offer words of encouragement, and provide a sympathetic ear. They may also gain wisdom from your caregiver experiences. Activities with friends such as taking a walk, meeting for coffee, or just talking can provide a fresh perspective.

    3. View Everything As A Chore. 

  4. Caregiving will become less of a burden and more about spending time together if you connect with your loved one. Ask them about their life experiences, including the joys and the struggles. Sharing memories and family history will strengthen your connection and enrich your life.

    4. Do Everything Yourself. 

  5. Review what tasks you can outsource or delegate. Hire a cleaning or yard service to provide more free time. If you spend a lot of time preparing meals for your care recipient, consider home-delivered meals. There are local agencies (check Eldercare.gov) that offer home-delivered meals targeted for seniors. Many Medicaid and Medicare health plans cover the expense of home-delivered meals.

    5. Forget to Reward Yourself.  

  6. Being a devoted caregiver doesn't mean forgetting about your needs. Eating well and getting enough sleep aren’t luxuries! Besides staying healthy, it’s necessary to feel good about yourself. Visit your hair stylist, manicurist, or spa to look and feel your best. A well-deserved treat makes for a happier you!

    Congratulate yourself on all the things you do each day! 

  7. Wishing you a Happy New Year from the GA Foods family.

    Want to learn more about caregivers? Download our free infographic.

Profile of a Caregiver

 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Caregivers, Healthy Meals for Seniors

Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Nov 22, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Gratitude.jpgThanksgiving is the time of year when we express gratitude for all the good things in our lives. But did you know that there is scientific proof that maintaining an attitude of gratitudeall year long can be beneficial to your health?

According to Harvard Medical School, expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better. Research conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of University of Miami, revealed some compelling facts about the importance that gratitude plays in determining attitudes.

In the study, one group wrote about things for which they were grateful that occurred during the past week, while the second group listed things that had irritated or displeased them. After ten weeks, the group that listed things they were grateful for felt much more positive and had a better outlook on their lives. They also experienced fewer visits to the doctor than the group who focused on their irritations and negative interactions.

Other studies have looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person, but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

Appreciation of Others

We all experience stress in the workplace. Busy case managers and caregivers certainly have their share of work-related stress. People who spend a good amount of time caring for others may often neglect their own well being, and need to learn ways to enhance their sense of self.

Remembering to say “thank you” to others can go a long way in making somebody’s day. In fact, workers who receive appreciation from their managers on a regular basis report that they feel more motivated and positive about their jobs.

Benefits of Gratitude

There are many simple ways to develop a grateful attitude. Below are some scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:

  • Opens the door to more relationships
  • Improves physical health
  • Improves psychological health
  • Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
  • Better sleep
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Increases mental strength

Practice Thankfulness

Just like learning to replace unhealthy food choices with healthier options, we can also develop new habits to adapt our attitudes and cultivate gratitude. Here are some suggestions from Harvard:

Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person, if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you've received each day.

Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as "peace"), it is also possible to focus on what you're grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.)

Seeking Peace

Feeling grateful even for daily minor annoyances may be another way to deal with stress. For example, instead of being negative about a re-scheduled meeting, think of that extra time as an opportunity to give more thought about the contributions you can make or questions you may have during the meeting.

Small adjustments to one’s attitude can go a long way in seeking peace. According to an article by Anna Hart, “Replacing ‘I’m so stressed about this’ with ‘I’m so excited I get to do this’ has been a game changer for me….I think gratitude is an invaluable practice to any workplace since it also prevents us from taking co-workers for granted or harboring feelings of resentment,” she added.

Here at GA Foods, we are grateful to be of service to others, which is reflected in our core values of Touching Lives, Integrity, Trust, Ownership and Commitment.

As case managers and caregivers, you make many positive contributions everyday in helping others to live better lives and we are grateful for your dedication and commitment!

Happy Thanksgiving from the GA Foods Family!

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregivers, Healthy Meals for Seniors

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