McKnight’s Articles

All the data points to … you tell me

Returning from an early morning walk down to the harbor of this sleepy Cape Cod town, it’s hard not to feel hopeful. My geriatric pups Melvin and Theodore couldn’t get enough of the sea smells and feel of the sand under their little Shih Tzu paws.

This distinct sense of hope has carried over from the American Health Care Association’s Congressional Briefing earlier this month, where several hundred owners, operators, clinicians and passionate advocates assembled to take our message to Capitol Hill.

The goal was to displace the negative long-held beliefs about aging services, and the idea that more regulations by people, some of whom have never entered a skilled nursing facility, is the answer.

Armed with data and a palpable passion for quality eldercare, we took to the streets, or more specifically, the Hill, to meet with elected leaders to tell our story. In our data-driven, evidence-based society, this seemed like the right approach.

Our outcomes data tells a positive story about quality improvement, deep personal reflection, and a continuous effort to do better. It highlights that average or even above average is never good enough for our facilities or those we serve.

It’s a gratifying story. You should feel proud, I told myself … and yet I couldn’t help but wonder if we were looking at the right data and telling the right story.

Continue reading Steven Littlehale’s guest column on