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Secrets to LTC success: AMFM leadership weighs in

Care staff in long-term-care communities are not just clinicians.

They’re responsible not only for the clinical welfare of their residents, but also, in large part, for the quality of their lives. They work hard to create an atmosphere that’s somehow both safe and enriching. The high watermark of their success comes when their organizations don’t feel like a “facility”—they feel like home.

This is an extraordinary achievement, and one that NRC Health seeks to recognize with its Customer Approved and Employee Approved Awards for long-term care.

Award winners were selected by their percentile scores on customer- and workforce satisfaction surveys, taken in 2019.  Winning organizations had to receive 90th-percentile positive responses to two specific survey items: “What is your recommendation of this community to others?” and “What is your recommendation of this community as a place to work?”

It’s rare enough to receive one of these awards. But American Medical Facilities Management (AMFM) has received both of them—two years in a row.

In this article, Tammy Jo Painter, AMFM’s VP of Compliance/Operations, lays out the secrets to her organization’s success.

Know the customer

Qualifying for the Customer Approved Award requires high marks in resident and family-member satisfaction. Excellent service is fundamental. But what exactly are residents and family members looking for?

To serve them effectively, long-term-care organizations must understand them. According to Painter, this effort at understanding begins with feedback.

“Feedback assists in fostering accountability, and in building a community that achieves high satisfaction among the customers we serve,” she says.

She believes that moving over to  NRC Health’s Real-time feedback solution will help resolve AMFM better understand its customer’s expectations in a much quicker response time.  This enables them to strategically approach the large-scale design of AMFM’s services.

Perhaps even more important, however, is what happens at the level of the individual. Aggregated understanding is invaluable for broad strategic planning. But at the same time, Painter believes that there’s no substitute for a one-on-one exchange.

“We make a point of communicating individually with our residents,” she says. “It helps us acknowledge what they’re looking for, develop their point of view, and take their vision into account when we look to improve our work.”

Combining these insights—both macro- and micro-level feedback—is what enables AMFM’s sustained customer-experience success.

Bring staff into the fold

While AMFM’s track record with customer service is excellent, the Employee Approved Award shows that the organization has received an equally strong endorsement from its employees. AMFM’s staff members relish their work, and according to Painter, they see each other as family.

“Our employees love taking care of others, and that shows in everything they do—including how they treat each other,” Painter says.

AMFM’s leadership has been careful to nurture an environment of mutual support and open communication. This free flow of information contributes to a dialogue between management and frontline staff, which has led to innumerable process improvements over the years.

Painter illustrates with an example.

“We received feedback from one of our centers that the night shift felt left out of communications with leadership,” she recalls. “To remedy this, the center’s executive director and director of nursing went on rotating schedules, taking on regular night shifts so that they’d get a chance to see and speak with every single employee in their community.”

Little touches like this make a difference. Not only do such gestures improve community operations, but they also illustrate something crucial to employees: the fact that management is really listening.

Making employees feel heard shows respect for their judgment and their autonomy. It’s a boost to morale—and, not coincidentally, to retention.

“By evaluating and listening to our employees, understanding their needs, and listening to those needs, we have been better able to retain our core employees and leaders,” Painter says.

In an industry in which retention is a perennial problem, these are important measures to take.

Stick to a vision

AMFM is no stranger to accolades. And having accumulated dozens of awards for outstanding quality and service, the organization shows no signs of slowing. If you ask Painter, however, the organization’s roots remain every bit as important as its ambitions.

“We are where we are because we stuck to our founders’ vision of providing excellence in quality care to our customers, and treating both patients and employees with dignity and respect,” she says.

This bedrock commitment is the foundation of AMFM’s success, and it’s a great way to encapsulate the spirit behind NRC Health’s Customer and Employee Approved Awards. Congratulations to AMFM—and all our other winners—for their hard-won success!

The full list of winners can be viewed here.