MHA, ONL & HCA Publish Latest Quality Measures for Hospitals, Home Health Agencies

The Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA), Organization of Nurse Leaders of MA, RI, NH & CT (ONL) and Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts have publicly posted the latest available key national care quality performance measures for both hospitals and home healthcare agencies in Massachusetts. Data from Medicare’s Hospital Compare and Home Health Compare are now available on the PatientCareLink website for 77 Bay State hospitals and 89 Bay State home health agencies.Patientcarelink logo

Reported measures for hospitals include best practices for heart attack or chest pain, heart failure, pneumonia care, influenza prevention, surgical care improvement, stroke care and blood clot prevention and treatment. For home care agencies, the reported measures include timely initiation of care, patient/family medication education, depression assessment, and more.

To view the updated reports, visit and click on the “Healthcare Provider Data” tab and then either the “Hospital Data” or “Home Health Agency Data” link, then “Individual Hospital Performance Measures” or “Select an Agency.”

The home health agency reports now incorporate data for the period June 2014 – July 2015 for all measures, and the hospital reports cover April 2014 – March 2015. In addition to each facility’s individual performance, the PCL pages also provide a comparison to state and U.S. “peer” facility averages.

“Providing high quality, safe patient care is a top priority for Massachusetts hospitals,” said Pat Noga, PhD, RN, Vice President of Clinical Affairs for MHA. “Our hospitals are also committed to publicly posting important quality and staffing information to provide patients and caregivers alike additional confidence in their care.”

Patricia Kelleher, Executive Director of the Home Care Alliance of MA, added that the partnership between hospitals and home health agencies on PCL furthers positive working relationships along the entire continuum of care, which can only improve patient safety and quality overall.

“Choosing in-home services can be a daunting task and that’s why we’re proud that PatientCare Link (PCL) website allows patients and their families to find high-quality care in the home setting that fits their needs,” Kelleher said. “PCL includes Medicare-approved agencies that meet certain federal health and safety requirements, and provides patients, caregivers, and families the tool to easily access home health agency quality data to take control of their care and their health.”

Massachusetts was the first state to voluntarily make hospital staffing and nursing-sensitive quality information public starting in 2006. Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts joined the PCL quality and patient safety transparency effort in 2013. The PatientCareLink website is a great resource and gives patients an open and transparent view of the hospitals providing them care.

Hospitals and home care agencies welcome transparency about their performance when performance measures are grounded in good science and are designed to make fair comparisons across institutions. Publicly reported performance data can offer several benefits, including:

  • Offering useful information for making decisions about where to obtain healthcare
  • Helping healthcare professionals and institutions improve the care they deliver; and
  • Providing extra motivation to improve performance.

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Palliative Care Legislation Sent to Governor’s Desk

Legislation supported by a coalition of health care organizations and advocacy groups, including the Home Care Alliance, that would improve consumer education and provider quality around palliative care has made it to the Governor’s desk on the last day of the 2013-2014 legislative session.

House Bill 4520 sponsored by Representative Chris Walsh, if signed into law by the Governor, would create a State Advisory Council on Palliative Care and Quality of Life. This interdisciplinary group would consult with and advise the Department of Public Health on matters related to the establishment, maintenance, operation and outcomes evaluation of palliative care initiatives in the Commonwealth.

The bill also seeks to establish a Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program that would look to maximize the effectiveness of palliative care initiatives in the Commonwealth by ensuring that comprehensive and accurate information and education about palliative care is available to the public, health care providers and health care facilities.

Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health would be charged with publishing on its web site, information and resources including links to external resources about palliative care for the public, health care providers, and health care facilities. This would include, but not be limited to, continuing education opportunities for health care providers; information about palliative care delivery in the home, primary, secondary, and tertiary environments; best practices for palliative care delivery; and consumer educational materials and referral information for palliative care, including hospice.

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network has led the charge on this effort, which Home Care Alliance has supported throughout the legislative process. The bill promotes the idea that palliative care is appropriate for patients with advanced illnesses or conditions that employ a team-based and patient-centered approach that takes into account a person’s emotional and mental well-being and strives to improve the quality of life for both patient and family.

More updates on this issue will follow.

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HCA Ad Campaign with CBS-Boston Underway

Thanks to the sponsorship of six Alliance members, the HCA’s shared advertising campaign is off and running through the months of December and January.

AllCare VNA & Hospice, Circle Home, CareTenders, Comfort Keepers, Home Instead Senior Care and South Shore VNA will be featured on WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV as well as on the CBS-Boston website in certain areas of the state. Viewers will see shared ads from these six agencies and the Alliance along with a PSA featuring tips on choosing a home care provider.

The video clips of these ads are available below:

Ad 1: CareTenders – Comfort Keepers

Ad 2: Circle Home – South Shore VNA

Ad 3: All Care VNA – Home Instead Senior Care

Home Care Alliance Healthwatch PSA

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Boston Globe Names HCA Member Agencies as ‘Top Places to Work’

Home care is a tough and rewarding career, but now working for a home care agency could be one of the best places to be employed in general.

Several Home Care Alliance member agencies made a strong showing on the Boston Globe’s “Top Places to Work 2014,” where employee satisfaction surveys are used to judge how well companies treat their workers. This methodology propelled four agencies to be recognized on the annual list.

Comfort Home Care earned the top spot under the “large employer” category with an employee amount between 250 to 999.

In the “mid-size” company rankings with an employee number between 100 and 249 workers, three home care agencies made the list: Visiting Angels of Newton and Canton (#6), Able Home Care (#22), and Community Nurse & Hospice Care (#31).

Among the survey statements are the following:

 Direction: “I have confidence in the leader of this company.”

 Execution: “New ideas are encouraged at this company.”

 Connection: “My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful.”

 Management: “My manager cares about my concerns.”

 Work: “This company encourages different points of view.”

 Pay and benefits: “My pay is fair for the work I do.”

 Engagement: “This company motivates me to give my very best at work.”

The Globe invited 1,660 companies to participate in the 2014 Top Places to Work survey. Of those, 366 organizations employing more than 336,000 people went all the way through the process, allowing the Globe to conduct a confidential survey of their workers.

The Home Care applauds the agencies in the “Top Places to Work” ranking and all agencies that keep people healthy and independent at home.

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Join Us for Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 23rd

As part of the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts will be co-hosting the 8th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day, which is taking place in the Great Hall of the State House in Boston on September 23rd from 10:00am to 1:00pm.

The event will follow the National Council on Aging’s theme of Strong Today, Falls Free® Tomorrow and includes a list of speakers and presenters. HCA’s Legislator of the Year Senator Patricia Jehlen will be giving welcoming remarks and Executive Office of Elder Affairs Secretary Ann Hartstein will be a featured speaker. Informational tables will line the Great Hall for legislative staff and members of the public to gather helpful resources on falls prevention strategies and local programs across the state.

There is no cost to attend this event. For more information, see the official flier for Falls Prevention Awareness Day.

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Uniform Adult Guardianship Bill Signed into Law

Massachusetts joined 37 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in streamlining adult guardianship rules when the Governor signed into law S.2249, the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protected Persons Jurisdiction Act.

According to advocates, including Deb Thompson of the PASS Group, this new law addresses the difficulty of coordinating guardianships where two or more jurisdictions are involved.  If an individual in need of a guardian lives in one state and the potential guardian lives in another state there is currently no way to coordinate guardianship proceedings in those separate jurisdictions.

This legislation-turned-law creates criteria for determining which jurisdiction is appropriate as well as to allow courts to request the assistance of other courts in filing motions, taking depositions and determining the appropriateness of a potential guardian or conservator.  It would also avoid the costly and time-consuming requirement of litigating guardianships in multiple jurisdictions.

For more information on this issue, visit the National Center for State Courts’ Center for Elders and the Courts webpage on adult guardianship and the Uniform Law Commission.

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CMS Establishing Star Rating System for Home Health Care

In an effort to be consistent with quality reporting measures for various health care providers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are reportedly beginning to bring home health care, hospitals and dialysis facilities into the five-star rating system used for other sectors.

Already, nursing homes, Medicare health plans with Part B coverage, Medicare Advantage plans, physician group practices, and accountable care organizations use the star rating system. According to Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA), CMS hopes to transition home health care to the five star rating by the end of 2014, or at latest, the beginning of 2015. However, the Home Health Quality Improvement Campaign (HHQI) reports that hospitals will be the next provider group to get the star rating system and home health will come online in 2016.

Nursing homes are rated on staffing, health inspections and a set of 9 quality measures on the Nursing Home Compare website. Home health agencies and other providers each have their own range of quality criteria. Currently, there are no details on how CMS plans to determine the star ratings for home health agencies.

More information on this topic will be reported as it becomes available.

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Boston Children’s Hospital Releases Educational Videos for Families, Providers

A series of educational videos for patients, families and healthcare providers is being promoted by Boston Children’s Hospital regarding care of a central line in order to help decrease the number of CLABSI (Central Line-associated Blood Stream Infections).

Especially for agencies specializing in pediatric home health care, but applicable for all, these videos are a useful educational tool. The Alliance also posted the link on our Facebook page and encourage home care agencies to pass them along to patients and families that could be benefited.

More educational videos for home care agencies and family caregivers created by the Home Care Alliance are available on the Caregiver Video Resource Center that can also be found at our Home Care Month Webpage.

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Revised Publication Available for Reporting Fraudulent Home Care Referral Practices

In an effort to help home health agencies educate their partners in the provider community about lawful referral practices, the Home Care Alliance has revised and updated the first in a publication series called “Keeping It Legal.”

The document below is intended for distribution to hospitals, physicians, skilled nursing facilities and other sources that refer patients for Medicare-certified home health services. The Alliance has updated contact information for oversight entities so that providers, patients or the families of patients can accurately report fraudulent activity if they wish to do so. The document also lays out some of the basic examples of wrongful activity that should be reported.

With the help of HCA members and those they work with and work for, the Alliance hopes that this document will be passed along and posted prominently in an effort to promote home health services that are high-quality and ethical.


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Caregiver Videos: Using Home Care As A Supplement to Family Care

In the eighth video in our series for family caregivers, Lynda Giovanello of Walpole Area VNA discusses how home care can be used to supplement — not replace — care from family members.

To view the full series, visit our YouTube channel.  To access library of hundreds of care giver resources on a variety of subjects, visit, who produced the videos with us.
Continue reading “Caregiver Videos: Using Home Care As A Supplement to Family Care”

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