Russian delegation visits Good Shepherd Services

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Good Shepherd Services had visitors from Russia on Friday, May 30 to learn more about how the facility manages various aspects of long-term care.

The visitors were part of a tour through World Services of  La Crosse and was facilitated by Fox Valley Technical College representatives.

Each of the delegates had a little bit different approach to what they wanted to learn according to Good Shepherd Executive Director Deb Captain.

Topics included how GSS provides:

  • Short term rehab,
  • Outpatient rehab,
  • Dementia care services and typical approaches for pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment for the disease,
  • How GSS works as a rural provider developing programs to work within existing revenue streams (Medicare, Medicare replacement programs, Family Care and Medicaid)
  • How GSS works to create a comprehensive continuum of services to meet the needs of the community (skilled services, rehab services, assisted living, senior living apartments, adult day center, home care services, child care)


A Russian translator was used during the presentation, discussion and for the campus tour that followed.


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Wisconsin Coalition for Collaborative Excellence in Assisted Living

Good Shepherd Assisted Living communities are members of WCCEAL.  WCCEL is a group of people organized to improve outcomes of folks living in Wisconsin Assisted Living facilities.

Quality improvement variables help our community spot trends, compare us to our peers and give/receive feedback from our tenants, families and staff.  Areas such as activities, environment, meals & dining, health management, resident rights and staffing are some topics we ask our tenants to rate.  Asking our tenants what they want and how we can improve their living experience is part of our Person Centered Program. 

WCCEAL requires us to collect tenant satisfaction surveys yearly and compares us to other like facilities throughout Wisconsin.  We are also required to submit quality improvement variables on a quarterly basis which is specific to our facility.  These reports help us set our goals as we look at improving our environments. 

We look at WCCEAL as being an asset to our Assisted Living Communities at Good Shepherd. Tenant and resident feedback assists us in improving and aligning our services to the expectations of those we serve.

GSS Adopts The Best Friends™ Approach to
Dementia Care

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Good Shepherd Services adds Best Friends™ Master Trainers and becomes a certified Best Friends™ Environment. The Best Friends™ Approach is a person-centered, compassionate care philosophy grounded in the understanding that relationships are supremely important to dementia care and that they require the essential elements of friendship: respect, empathy, support, trust, and humor. With Best Friends™, the focus is on the individual—the person’s rights, history, and relationships with all care partners. Adopting this care initiative supports facilities in their quest to create culture-changing communities of care. The core components of the Best Friends™ philosophy include the Alzheimer’s Disease Bill of Rights, the Life Story, the KNACK, and the art of communication. Those who have used and endorsed the approach, including internationally recognized dementia experts, state-level agencies, Alzheimer’s Association chapters, and corporations providing care in a variety of settings, have found that the use of this adaptable approach improves the quality of care for the people they serve. More information can be found at

Good Shepherd’s acquisition of 2 of Certified Best Friends™ Master Trainers, Anne Peterson and Cindy Rauterkus, demonstrates a commitment to providing the highest quality of dementia care available today as well as to ensuring ongoing, sustainable professional development for staff in the Best Friends™ care philosophy. These qualified individuals have demonstrated mastery of the principles and practices of the Best Friends™ Approach to Alzheimer’s care and are the resident experts at their facility with the responsibility of leading co-workers in the provision of this superior, person-centered care model. Maintaining a Master Trainer Certification requires completion of yearly certification standards, which ensure fidelity in ongoing implementation and sustainability.

GSS and the INTERACT program

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Good Shepherd Services’ Skilled Nursing Facility utilizes the “INTERACT” program which is an acronym for “Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers”.  INTERACT is a quality improvement project that is supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  The program focuses on identification, evaluation, and communication about changes in resident conditions.  The goal of the program is to reduce the number of residents transferred from the nursing home to acute care hospitals.  We provide laboratory services, x-ray services, EKG testing, oxygen and respiratory treatment, and administration of IV fluids and IV medications on-site, so many residents do not require acute care hospital admission for treatment in a change in their medical condition.  The goal at Good Shepherd Services is to allow residents to remain in their  “home environment” (the nursing home) which is familiar and safe to them.  Transfers to the hospital can be emotionally and physically difficult for residents and can result in complications of hospitalization.  We take pride in providing the best care possible to our residents, allowing them to remain within the nursing home despite a medical change in condition and achieving the best possible clinical outcomes.  If you are interested in further information please contact our Director of Nursing, Leah McCarthy, RN BSN.

Music and Memory Initiative

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Good Shepherd was selected to be one of 100 nursing homes in the state of Wisconsin to be part of the Music and Memory Initiative.  Music and Memory is a unique program for persons with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  Each participant in the program receives their own iPod shuffle and headphones.  With the help of the participant and his/her family the iPod is to be loaded with their favorite music (songs, artists, genres, etc).  No two iPods have the same music selection.  Having the opportunity to listen to their preferred music enhances their quality of life by tapping into memories that haven’t been affected by memory loss. When listening to the music, it appears that the participants are happier and more calm.   Many of the participants sing a long and tap their feet to the music; one even asked the staff to dance with him. 

Through the initiative, Good Shepherd received 15 iPod shuffles, 15 headphones, 15 chargers,  1 portable speaker, 2 headphone splitters (for 2 people to listen together),  and $150 in iTunes gift cards. 

CMS Nursing Home Value-Based All Years Project

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Good Shepherd Nursing Home Awarded Top Overall Quality Scores in the CMS Nursing Home Value-Based Purchasing Demonstration All Years of Project.


The Nursing Home Value-Based Purchasing (NHVBP) Demonstration is part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) initiative to improve the quality and efficiency of care furnished to Medicare beneficiaries. Under this demonstration, CMS will offer financial incentives to nursing homes that meet certain conditions for providing high quality care. The demonstration will be open to free-standing and hospital-based facilities and will include beneficiaries who are on a Part A stay as well as those with Part B coverage only. The demonstration will be conducted in 3 states: Arizona, New York and Wisconsin.

Basic Approach

Each year of the demonstration, CMS will assess each participating nursing home’s quality performance based on four domains: staffing, appropriate hospitalizations, minimum data set (MDS) outcomes, and survey deficiencies. CMS will award points to each nursing home based on how they perform on the measures within each of the domains. These points will be summed to produce an overall quality score. For each State, nursing homes with scores in the top 20 percent and homes that are in the top 20 percent in terms of improvement in their scores will be eligible for a share of that State’s savings pool (AHCA, April 2012).

CMS 5 Star Rating

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Good Shepherd Nursing Home Consistently Holds CMS 5 Star Rating

Five-Star Quality Rating

CMS created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers compare nursing homes more easily and to help identify areas about which you may want to ask questions.

The Nursing Home Compare Web site now features a quality rating system that gives each nursing home a rating of between 1 and 5 stars.  Nursing homes with 5 stars are considered to have much above average quality and nursing homes with 1 star are considered to have quality much below average.  There is one Overall 5-star rating for each nursing home, and a separate rating for each of the following three sources of information:

  • Health Inspections – The health inspection rating contains information from the last 3 years of onsite inspections, including both standard surveys and any complaint surveys.  This information is gathered by individuals who go onsite to the nursing home and follow a specific process to determine the extent to which a nursing home has met Medicare’s minimum quality requirements.  The most recent survey findings are weighted more than the prior two years.  More than 200,000 onsite reviews are used in the health inspection scoring nationally.
  • Staffing – The staffing rating has information about the number of hours of care on average provided to each resident each day by nursing staff.  This rating considers differences in the level of need of care of residents in different nursing homes.  For example, a nursing home with residents who had more severe needs would be expected to have more nursing staff than a nursing home where the resident needs were not as high.
  • Quality Measures (QMs) – The quality measure rating has information on 9 different physical and clinical measures for nursing home residents - for example, the prevalence of pressure sores or changes to resident’s mobility.  This information is collected by the nursing home for all residents.  The QMs offer information about how well nursing homes are caring for their residents’ physical and clinical needs.  More than 12 million assessments of the conditions of nursing home residents are used in the Five-Star rating system.

(CMS, 2014)