Founded in 2010, Villa Healthcare provides post-acute and long-term care to patients in 35 centers, located mostly in the Midwestern United States. Their primary focus is providing the utmost quality care to their patients, as well as their families. Internally, they focus on maintaining a positive and engaging workplace culture and have been certified as a Great Place to Work®. Their organization’s philosophy can be found in their tagline, “We make people better.” Whether changing operational processes or piloting new programs, they are an organization willing to break the mold in order to grow and improve to better serve their patients. Clinical education has played a big role in their constant drive to improve.
New changes to government quality measures were on the horizon. In order to stay compliant and avoid costly penalties, Villa Healthcare knew they would have to make a major shift in operations to protect not only ranking among referral partners, but also their overall bottom line.
“We started conducting episodic education using Relias courses. They’re 30-minute assignments, so we explained to the staff, ‘please take the time to view and complete your modules.”
– Cristina Papillo, National Director of Clinical Development
The team started to look at what could be done internally to improve readmission rates. As they began to take a look at patients who were being readmitted to the hospital across their centers, they realized some major improvements were needed among their care staff in the following areas: documentation, completion of head-to-toe assessments, and completion of cardiac assessments. Additionally, they knew that early detection of patient diagnoses was going to be key, and developing the staff’s ability to articulate to the physician and triage patients would be critical. After considering these issues, the team realized that implementing a change was going to have to start with better educating their staff. As Cristina Papillo, RN, MSN, National Director of Clinical Development, stated, “knowledge is power, and we’re going to have to start educating our nurses; we’re going to have to start empowering our staff.” They knew they needed to get the right information out there as quickly as possible.
With a focus on patient and employees, Villa Healthcare turned to their education partner, Relias, and made the decision to upgrade to a standard package. “[Villa] decided these are the tools that are essential. It’s the same as choosing a needle—we get it because it’s safe—it’s the same thing,” says Papillo. The upgrade allowed them to implement a form of episodic education among their staff of caregivers.
Focusing on specific areas of improvement, Villa began to utilize courses that could be completed by staff members in 30 minutes or less and before their next shift. Relias’ Pro on the Go allowed digestible five- to seven-minute lessons to be delivered conveniently to their staff through the Relias Mobile App or through the Relias Learning Management System (LMS), all in an effort to improve overall care. Papillo knew the lessons needed to be quick, due to the nature of these fast-paced roles. She explains “learning modules can be cumbersome and can be long. With Pro on the Go, it’s very quick and it gets information out that’s essential…when [the staff] know how to do it, they feel more confident to triage the patient in the center and not send that patient to the hospital.”
Villa expanded their inventory from just two computers with Relias on them to including it on every computer in all 35 of their locations. The added access enabled Villa Healthcare to adjust their onboarding to easily include the Rehospitalization Simulation. “We found it so powerful and so effective that all of our new nurses view the module in our Welcome Workshop prior to taking an assignment on our units. Each one of our Villa nurses has participated in this assignment; they have really enjoyed the interactive simulation that this module offers,” states Papillo. “I would suggest to all SNF and long-term care agencies to watch and use it.” They also increased accessibility to additional devices such as cell phones, enabling easy access to the Relias Mobile App. Plus, Villa installed headphones on medical and treatment carts for staff members who need a quick lesson refresher at the patient’s bedside.
“We found [the Rehospitalization Simulation] so powerful and so effective that that all of our new nurses view the module in our Welcome Workshop prior to taking an assignment on our units.”
With the implementation, Toni Fimowicz, Director of Guest Experience, who is very involved with staff development, was aware that not all employees have the same learning style. She explains, “What I love about the upgrade is it provided those different tools that we can use, and when we’re looking at the diverse learning preferences of our employee population, it is very, very helpful to be able to make recommendations for a certain tool on this platform based on the individual’s learning preference and learning style. I think that’s very valuable to us as well.” Villa Healthcare even had staff members request additional modules in the areas where they personally felt they could benefit from more training. Although clinical expertise is of high importance, there are other aspects of the Relias educational content the team finds beneficial, such as best practices for customer service and communication, as this is highly reflected in their patient and family satisfaction rates. Fimowicz notes that, whether from a professional development or retention perspective, “these are great tools to help round out our entire team— clinical, administrative, marketing or otherwise.”
With these efforts, Villa Healthcare saw a drop in their readmission rate from 21 percent to 11 percent in just four months! To add to this, the organization thinks they’ll be able to hit their target of ten percent in just one additional month.
The flexible access and ease of reporting has already provided additional benefits during surveys. Nurse leaders were able to easily print off the transcripts and explain that they have been utilizing a quick competency tool that is about six or seven minutes long.
“The federal and state surveyors are thoroughly impressed! On one occasion the survey team viewed the Pro on the Go trach care module, and she said that the nurses delivered trach care seamlessly, which was really good to hear.”
Villa Healthcare worked diligently to get ahead of a regulatory change they knew would have major implications on their organization, and it has paid off. By creating a culture of empowerment and prioritizing their staff, they have successfully exceeded their goal and continue to use a collaborative, innovative approach to achieve the best quality of care for their patients.
As our partners at Villa put it, “Villa looks at Relias as more than a vendor. We’re a partnership, and our success is based on the tools that we have available to us and the quality of those tools… [Relias is] providing us with the tools we need to be so successful in what we do.”