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Bronze and Silver Quality awards

Five reasons to consider a AHCA/NCAL National Quality Award winning skilled nursing center

Published on May 29, 2018

As a health care consumer, particularly with regards to a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, there are many choices and considerations when selecting a center for a loved one.

Choosing a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center can be an uncertain time for families. There are many factors to consider such as being close to families, friends, churches and their communities. Health care ratings and online reviews are other options people may use in selecting a nursing home.

Many centers have received national awards and recognitions for their quality care, but many consumers may not understand what these awards mean for their loved one.

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) National Quality Award (NQA) Program annually recognizes skilled nursing centers and assisted living communities for quality care and performance excellence.

The program has three distinct levels; Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each center must achieve an award at each level to progress to the next level.  

The program is based on the Baldrige Performance Excellence (BPE) program. The national standards the BPE sets helps organizations both large and small develop plans to increase an organizations value to customers, improving overall organizational goals and improvement in effectiveness and personal learning.

Also, just because a nursing center isn’t a NQA winner does not mean it has low quality care. Centers choose to apply for the award and the process that goes with it. Many centers with three, four and even five-star rated centers do not have a NQA.  

Now that we know a little bit about the program, here are five reasons you should consider when choosing a nursing center with a National Quality Award from AHCA/NCAL:

  1. Better outcomes for award-winning centers: Research has shown that Bronze, Silver and Gold recipients typically have percentages above the national average in low hospital readmissions, discharges back to the community, reduction in falls, pressure sores and more.
  2. Star Power: Overall, highly rated Five-Star Ratings (see our Five-Star Rating Blog post) from the Centers for Medicaid/Medicare Services (CMS) and NQA typically go together. Nearly 45% of Silver and Gold NQA recipients are Five-Star Rated centers versus only 23% in the rest of the nation.

    In Three, Four and Five-Star rated centers, NQAs recipients had higher scores in state survey inspection results, staffing and quality care metrics.
  3. The application process is a crucial and strenuous process that teaches centers how to connect with their community in different ways and be leaders. Nationally-trained examiners from across the country review each application to help identify strengths and opportunities for improvement. These examiners provide a feedback report to each applicant as a resource for quality improvement.

    So, each center that applies gets a third-party evaluation on how to improve organizational goals and priorities for customers.
  4. Checks and Balances:  The demands for the program criteria helps prepare centers for CMS program and the Quality Assurance/Performance Improvement Program (QAPI). Both, the QAPI and NQA use an approach to organizational performance with a focus on leadership and responding to the needs of customers and employees.
  5. Sharing your success: The application process helps a center define what is unique and different about their center in relation to competition and their role in the circle of health care with hospitals, local clinics, home health and more.

Sharing the recognition of achieving the award for patients, families and the community. It means this center’s commitment to not only improving the quality of care for their patients is important, but improving the community. Often, our skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers are centerpieces for employment, activities, fundraising and hubs for our community.

Additional resources:

More on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program can be found here: