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At last week’s NADONA conference in lovely Grand Rapids, we played a rousing game of cornhole in our booth and gave away bottles of wine to the winners.  With each person we met, we asked, “What makes a therapy company better than all the rest?” As you can imagine, those nurses had a lot to say! Some of their overarching messages included…


“We wish our therapy company put patient care above productivity expectations.”


“We need cost effectiveness and cost transparency! Our previous company charged us a lot per minute and even more at our rural facilities.”


“They need to understand the benefits of Part B and use it appropriately!”


Here’s what the DONs told us about their top wishes and needs for a therapy partner:


1. “The therapists need to thoroughly communicate and collaborate with me and my team.”


  • Communication is key – with my nursing staff, facility leaders, family members, and residents.
  • They need to work hand-in-hand with our nursing team.
  • We need the therapy team to participate in meetings – IDT, morning meetings, DC, etc.
  • They don’t say, “Nope, I won’t do that” or “That’s not therapy’s job.”
  • It’s important that the therapists work with the CNAs to do ADLs.
  • They need to collaborate with the CNAs to know about and evaluate changes in condition.
  • I feel like our therapists need to collaborate better with restorative.


2. “They must go above and beyond for patients.”


  • They tailor goals and treatments to the patient’s desires and make therapy meaningful for that patient.
  • They understand that after surgery patients might be groggy for days, so they’ll come back to re-evaluate them.
  • They get the right wheelchair on admission, so a large patient isn’t crammed into a small wheelchair!
  • They do home visits.
  • They work weekends and schedule themselves around the patients’ needs, med schedules, etc.
  • They’re prepared to work with patients with difficult behaviors. It’d be great if they had specialized training in dementia.
  • They get patients up and moving, which prevents or lessens skin issues.


3. “Our therapy team knows what’s coming down the pike with regard to industry changes.”


  • Our therapy manager, area manager, and company leaders share their regulatory expertise with us via trainings, emails, and daily communication.
  • They need to be well versed in State and Federal regulations for SNFs as well as ALs.
  • I hope they can help us figure out the new payment model – PDPM or whatever CMS ends up calling it!

4. “They support us with ADRs and know what to do when State or Federal auditors walk in the door.”


  • They don’t hide in the storage closet when CMS shows up. Hah!
  • Their documentation is so good – they confidently prove the case for each patient’s care.
  • Our Area Manager is RAC certified, so that’s a huge bonus.
  • I wish they understood F tags!


5. “Outcomes!!!” (The proof is in the pudding.)


  • The therapy team is focused on our organization’s goals – e.g. they meet our goal for LOS and get our patients home safely.
  • Our patients are strong enough and educated enough when they leave that they don’t return to the hospital.
  • Patients express their satisfaction in the level of care they received.
  • The therapy team knows that appropriate use of Part B keeps residents safer, stronger, and living at the highest functional level for longer. (Hey, that rhymes!)


6. “The therapy team provides training & education – for their own team members as well as ours.”


  • They can’t be generalists – they need to have specialized expertise with the geriatric population.
  • Care pathways and therapy are always changing – they need to stay up to date in treatments and trends.
  • They are rigorously trained – through their parent company, as well as via participation in national organizations.
  • They do trainings with our team. Sometimes it’s a formal session. Often it’s more like, “Here, let me show you (CNA) how to do that.”


7. “The personality, expertise, and integrity of each therapist matters so much!”


  • The therapists need to REALLY get to know each resident.
  • They must have the personality and charm to win people over, so residents want to do therapy.
  • Our residents are in pain – a stellar therapist can motivate them to get out of bed.
  • A great therapist makes people feel happy and capable!


8. “The therapy team meshes with our community.”


  • They wear our name tags and act like us. Residents don’t have any idea that they work for a contract company.
  • They promote therapy at open houses.
  • They go to community events. They even wear T-shirts promoting our facility around town.


I know what you are wondering – Which answer was my personal favorite? Since you asked, I’ll tell you. One brilliant DON said that the thing that set a great therapy apart from the mediocre ones was…


“My sales person! I love love love the business development person who visits me!”


Yes, she really did say that.


If you have points you’d like to add to our list, or you’d like me (Carrie Hensel) to come visit you (with or without some wine), send me a message and I’ll be right there!