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Mission Integration’s Rise to the Executive Level in Post-Acute Care & Senior Living

“Mission Integration” has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, and many healthcare organizations are just beginning to understand the term and its importance. A growing number of heath systems, including senior living and post-acute care centers, however, see it as so crucial that they have hired C-suite level leadership to oversee its implementation. But how did a term that barely existed a decade ago become so significant it requires dedicated senior leadership?

Most healthcare organizations have had core values for decades, but too often, printing the terms on the walls or marketing materials was as far as those values traveled. Long-term care facilities may have been more intentional with these values from the beginning, given the home-like environment they seek to create and the unique advantage the long-term relationships affords when it comes to mission, but even in long-term care, mission integration has become more important than ever in recent years.

The push toward focusing on mission integration in acute care facilities and large health systems is a good reminder for post-acute care and senior living to remain committed to the values of the organization and cultivate them with every interaction they have with patients and coworkers. Often, the staff at these facilities can become family to those with no family nearby and a source of spiritual care for their residents, so integrating missional values is crucial.

Changes in public opinion or policy also affect the importance of mission integration, specifically as it pertains to ethical decision making. In long-term care, many of these ethical situations arise out of the idea of patient autonomy and end-of-life care. Having a mission integration leader who oversees the execution of ethical decisions, with consulting input based on the organization’s values and other staff, is the key to keeping everyone on the same page.

Another reason mission integration has become top-of-mind in recent years are the changes in Medicare and Medicaid that link reimbursements to measurable value delivered to patients. If the experience is generic or does not embody the traits the health system espouses as their core values, patients are not receiving the highest value care. Government regulation and reimbursement policies also affect finances of long-term care facilities which in turn can affect the number of staff available and the overall experience for residents, potentially detracting from mission.

Many seniors have also been embracing the idea of home health care, and although it certainly makes care more accessible and emotionally palatable, the fragmentation can make it difficult to uniformly provide the same experience when it comes to mission. As the points of care become more spread out, it becomes even more important for values and mission to be clear and uniform across the greater organization. To do this requires strong leadership to not only manage implementation but serve as a moral compass, social conscience, and change agent when needed.

Shorter post-acute rehabilitation stays are also becoming increasingly common in long-term care communities, so being intentional with mission and values is critical, considering the limited time the staff has to build relationships.

As the world continues to change at a more rapid pace every day, it becomes increasingly important to maintain core values and intentionally seek out ways to embody them. It not only enhances the patient experience but creates unity and ignites passion in the staff across the board to remain committed to excellence for the sake of the people they serve.


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