How the Journey to Gold Helped Bring Positive Change

By Roberto Muñiz

Roberto MuñizAll week long we have been celebrating the fact that our assisted living residence, Parker at Stonegate, won the National Gold Award for Excellence in Quality Care! I’ve been inspired as so many employees, from the team that crafted the submission itself to those serving in dining, maintenance, environmental services and other areas, have shared heartfelt and touching moments from the journey to get to this achievement.  I am proud of the ways this team held each other up during a process that felt, at times, as rigorous and grueling as preparing a college thesis.
For example, Phil Evans, who leads our Environmental Services team, arrived early one particularly strenuous day to tie balloons to the chairs of those working on the award entry. The balloons had the names of each team member on them and provided a boost they needed to find encouragement for the day. (Much like these balloons, I still have not come down from Cloud 9!) It is evident that this process created a stronger unity among Parker at Stonegate staff.
The award is based on the rigorous criteria from Baldridge, a Performance Excellence Program, an organization that sets the national standard for quality in all the industries in the U.S. The American Healthcare Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) adopted this quality for long-term care communities. The distinction has only been given to 38 organizations in 22 years, including Parker at Stonegate. We are one of only three assisted livings to receive this honor and I think the process has made us better than ever.
Along with creating stronger relationships among staff, Parker at Stonegate has improved in many other areas, including leadership, strategy, communications and best practices. The team, for example, developed a Stonegate specific strategic plan that aligns with Parker but is unique to the needs of Stonegate as an Assisted Living community. Catherine Martino, Parker at Stonegate Administrator, and her team, learned how to develop more robust strategic objectives and long and short-range action plans and goals. This new process has had a positive impact on resident care and delivery of service. 
Becoming a final candidate for the Gold Award meant we were inspected by three AHCA and NCAL examiners for a couple days who will soon provide feedback for us on what we are doing right and areas where we can improve. It’s valuable insight that we very much appreciated when winning the Silver Award in 2016.
Through this process, we have discovered that we are innovative in best practice areas such as employee and resident engagement, providing person-directed care and our system of holding senior leaders accountable for improvement plans.
I’ve said this before: the key to growing and improvement is being willing to learn and take a hard look at what can be better. We can always improve but I’m proud to say that where we are now is a very good place to be!

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