GUIDE PATH – An Expectations and Risk Management Certification Program for Senior Living Providers

It is with extreme excitement that I formally introduce the Guide Path Certification program to senior living providers. Guide Path is an Expectations and Risk Management Certification Program created for resident, family and provider engagement and risk mitigation, quality of care and process improvement, careforce retention and regulatory compliance. Guide Path was created in response to increased lawsuits, soaring professional liability costs, more regulatory citations and higher fines and the need for education, training and implementation support. Understanding, setting and managing resident and family expectations about the senior living experience are central to Guide Path.

Unmet Needs and Lack of Understanding of Residents and Families Create Conflict

Having represented senior living providers for over 30 years, I’ve reviewed thousands of incident reports and survey findings.  I’ve interviewed all levels of the facility team, deposed hundreds of residents, family members and healthcare providers, reviewed nursing charts and hospital records and defended and managed claims for hundreds of nursing homes around the country. Beyond the direct information gathered in my professional work, I’ve spent decades studying the literature and interviewing thought leaders about the changing culture in senior living and the feelings, needs and education residents and families have as they transition to senior living communities and often end-of-life care.

What drives conflict in senior living? Why do residents and families complain?

Residents and families have needs and feelings and minimal understanding about what to expect in senior living.

Residents and families arrive at assisted living and skilled nursing facilities a unique history of healthcare experiences and insights that shape their expectations about their new community environment.  They often have unfulfilled expectations of what senior living care communities can do or provide. Feelings such as anger, grief, guilt, and confusion can quickly translate into complaints and even lawsuits.  Lack of communication with the resident, family and physician and uncoordinated care leads to misunderstandings and frustrations. There are many reasons leading to unrealistic expectations — including time limitations, power differentials, cultural differences, and expectations of the health care world as well as uneasiness and uncertainly about changes in care needs and aging.

Helping residents and families understand the differences in care environments from the hospital, home care, assisted living and skilled nursing is a key goal in setting realistic expectations. Explaining to families that senior living care communities do not remove responsibility from the family nor do they replace the family in the life of the resident. Many families believe their role is to see that the job done by the caregivers is done well – the role of spectator. Giving families and responsible parties a realistic look at life in the senior living community will support a more trusting and confident relationship as expectations can be realistically set and managed by encouraging families to be partners in care giving.

The Guide Path “Resident and Family Insight Survey”

The Guide Path “Resident and Family Insight Survey” is an important tool in understanding the experiences and insights of residents and families. “Expectations Management” education and training will serve to reduce complaints and increase customer satisfaction during transitions of care. Guide Path Certification survey portal can generate and send surveys to residents, or more likely a family member, that includes 5 key areas (Communication, The Family System, Goals of Care, The Aging Process and Emotional and Spiritual Health) with 5 questions in each key area. The survey is completed, and a “Guide Path Insight Survey Rating” is generated (low, medium, high risk) and is used by the facility to identify resident and family expectations that have potential risk.

The Guide Path High Risk Playbook is provided that includes several recommended immediate proactive plans the facility can use in the 5 key areas for admitting residents and their families.

With the help of the survey, the Guide Path Certification education and the support from Guide Path Navigators, facility teams can proactively reduce risk, improve quality and compliance and enhance the resident and family centered and resident-directed care culture.

The Guide Path Team and the 9 Education, Training, and Implementation Modules for Certification

Guide Path’s education, training and implementation process includes a 9-month curriculum that focuses on risk mitigation, culture change and managing expectations to promote quality of life, a culture of person-directed care, and empowerment strategies for the facility (known as community) team. Your community will be assisted in creating a Guide Path Team from administration, clinical and direct care giving staff. The Team will have access to short video modules (4) as well as facilitated group experiences for a total of about one hour per month. The Team will then create a Guide Path Community Commitment Plan used to guide the community in implementing the learning and engaging everyone.

Delivered by nationally recognized subject matter experts, the following topics are presented:

  • Culture Change in Senior Living
  • Expectations Management
  • Compassionate Communication
  • Empathic Leadership in Healthcare
  • Trauma-Informed Care
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Quality of Life/Goals of Care
  • Palliative Care
  • Risk Mitigation

Meet Guide Path  –

The Guide Path team is comprised of myself and:

  • Dawn Fitzgerald, Chief Innovation Officer and Dawn FitzGerald –Senior Healthcare Consultant focused on Quality and Process Improvement and Founder of First Light Health
  • Brooke Tweddell, Director of Marketing and Communications

Guide Path’s Advisory Group and Subject Matter Experts Include:

  • Dr. Karl Steinberg – Chief Medical Officer, Beecan Health and Mariner Health Care Central and President, AMDA/PALT
  • Francois Beausoleil – Educator and Trainer and Founder of the Empathic Leadership Institute. Author of “The Blame Free State”
  • Dr. BJ Miller – Palliative Care Physician and Co- Founder of Mettle Health.
  • Sonya Dolan – Hospice and Palliative Care Program Administrator and Co-Founder/Director of Operations of Mettle Health
  • Julie Bordo – Lawyer and President and General Manager of PCH Mutual Insurance Co.
  • Paige Hector – Clinical Educator in Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Facilities

Guide Path is partnering with California State University Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care, led by Jennifer Moore Ballentine, MA, Executive Director, who is a long-time national palliative care advocate and educator. CSU will be providing the education platform for the Guide Path modules.

Guide Path Certification Differentiates Your Senior Living Community

Here are a few other differentiators that Guide Path offers:

  • Innovative and Effective Regulatory Compliance – The training and education aligns with CMS survey guidance for improved surveys, enhanced operations, quality improvement, and reduced overall costs
  • Care Provider Team Engagement – The establishment of the Guide Path team reinforces a culture and environment that supports quality of life and quality end-of-life care in senior living communities and improves careforce recruitment and retention.
  • Gold Standard Education, Training and Support – Education, training and implementation as well as Guide Path Community Resources differentiate senior living communities and demonstrate an elevated level of commitment to the communities they serve.

Become a Member of the Guide Path Community! Here’s What They’re Saying:

Julie Bordo

CEO/President, PCH Mutual Insurance Co., Inc., a RRG

Guide Path promises to be a market differentiator in long term care staff training. Among its founding principles is to provide a modern platform for living well while dying—rewriting the narrative around residential care. This new narrative seeks to defuse unreasonable expectations and reframe the care experience in the lens of the inevitable, natural process of dying.

Guide Path is the brain trust of experts and innovators in palliative care, risk management, clinical training and social work, and empathy. Its concise module design recognizes the modern attention span and crushing time constraints. Our company plans to engage Guide Path as a key partner to enhance staff qualifications and communication leading to better outcomes for residents and their loved ones positively impacting every aspect of our business.

Karl Steinberg, MD, CMD

Past President, AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine

Chief Medical Officer, Beecan Health and Mariner Health Care Central

As a nursing home medical director and attending physician for the last three decades, I am excited about the potential for Guide Path certification to become a new standard in our care setting.  The concepts embodied in this training really elevate the human aspects of person-centered care and palliative care, concepts that are so desperately needed these days. 

And as a side benefit, Guide Path seems poised to reduce liability exposure substantially.  I’m honored to be able to touch so many lives by taking part in the process of developing Guide Path. It’s a win-win-win for our residents and families, our staff, and our facilities on the whole. 

Paige Hector

Whether you experience the senior living healthcare system as a staff member, a resident, or a family member, each person’s perspective is unique to their life experience and current circumstances. There can be intense emotions for everyone, especially at a time when there are extraordinary societal pressures impacting our daily lives. Truly understanding what matters to each person is more than just asking a few questions. That’s what Guide Path does differently.

The Guide Path Certification Program is designed by diverse subject matter experts with experience as family members of a loved one in senior living. The Certification Program is more than just a curriculum. It’s a partnership that supports the integration of knowledge and skills to affect, and sustain, culture change.

I’m delighted to be part of the Guide Path Program with a shared belief that together we have the capacity to make senior living more wonderful for everyone touched by it.

Join Us At AHCA/HNCAL in Nashville October 9-12!

Please be our special guest at the 73rd AHCA/NCAL Convention & Expo ( From October 9-12 where Guide Path will be at booth #407 and I’ll be presenting on “Setting Realist Expectations for Residents and Families” on Tuesday October 11 at 3:15 pm.

We’d love to show you the Survey and a look at the Learning! Please contact us at

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