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In the various roles he has undertaken through the years, Val J. Halamandaris has been a singular driving force behind the policy and program initiatives resulting in the recognition of home health care as a viable alternative to institutionalization. His dedication to consumer advocacy, which enhances the quality of life and dignity of those receiving home health care, merits VNA HealthCare Group’s highest recognition and deepest respect. 

VNA HealthCare Group

I have the highest respect for them, especially for the nurses, aides and therapists, who devote their lives to caring for people with disabilities, the infirm and dying Americans.  There are few more noble professions.

President Barack Obama

Home health care agencies do such a wonderful job in this country helping people to be able to remain at home and allowing them to receive services

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Chair, Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee

Heath care at home…is something we need more of, not less of.  Let us make a commitment to preventive and long-term care.  Let us encourage home care as an alternative to nursing homes and give folks a little help to have their parents there.

Former President Bill Clinton

Home care is a combination of compassion and efficiency.  It is less expensive than institutional care...but at the same time it is a more caring, human, intimate experience, and therefore it has a greater human’s a big mistake not to try to maximize it and find ways to give people the home care option over either nursing homes, hospitals or other institutions

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA)

Medicaid covers long-term care, but only for low-income families.  And Medicare only pays for care that is connected to a hospital discharge....our health care system must cover these vital services...[and] we should promote home-based care, which most people prefer, instead of the institutional care that we emphasize now.

Former U.S. Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-CD)

We need incentives to...keep people in home health care settings...It’s dramatically less expensive than long term care.

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)


Home care is clearly the wave of the future. It’s clearly where patients want to be cared for. I come from an ethnic family and when a member of our family is severely ill, we would never consider taking them to get institutional care. That’s true of many families for both cultural and financial reasons. If patients have a choice of where they want to be cared for, where it’s done the right way, they choose home.

Donna Shalala, former Secretary of Health and Human Services

A couple of years ago, I spent a little bit of time with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and its president, Val J. Halamandaris, and I was just blown away. What impressed me so much was that they talked about what they do as opposed to just the strategies of how to deal with Washington or Sacramento or Albany or whatever the case may be. Val is a fanatic about care, and it comes through in every way known to mankind. It comes through in the speakers he invites to their events; it comes through in all the stuff he shares.

Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

Val’s home care organization brings thousands of caregivers together into a dynamic organization that provides them with valuable resources and tools to be even better in their important work. He helps them build self-esteem, which leads to self-motivation.

Mike Vance, former Dean of Disney and author of Think Out of the Box

Val is one of the greatest advocates for seniors in America. He goes beyond the call of duty every time.

Arthur S. Flemming, former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare

Val has brought the problems, the challenges, and the opportunities out in the open for everyone to look at. He is a visionary pointing the direction for us. 

Margaret (Peg) Cushman, Professor of Nursing and former President of the Visiting Nurses Association

Although Val has chosen to stay in the background, he deserves much of the credit for what was accomplished both at the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, where he was closely associated with me and at the House Select Committee on Aging, where he was Congressman Claude Pepper’s senior counsel and closest advisor. He put together more hearings on the subject of aging, wrote more reports, drafted more bills, and had more influence on the direction of events than anyone before him or since.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Val’s most important contribution is pulling together all elements of home health care and being able to organize and energize the people involved in the industry.

Frank E. Moss, former U.S. Senator

Anyone working on health care issues in Congress knows the name Val J. Halamandaris.

Kathleen Gardner Cravedi, former Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Aging

Without your untiring support and active participation, the voices of people advocating meaningful and compassionate health care reform may not have been heard by national leaders.

Michael Sullivan, Former Executive Director, Indiana Association for Home Care

All of us have been members of many organizations and NAHC is simply the best there is. NAHC aspires to excellence in every respect; its staff has been repeatedly honored as the best in Washington; the organization lives by the highest values and has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of patients and providers.

Elaine Stephens, Director of Home Care of Steward Home Care/Steward Health Systems and former NAHC C

Home care increasingly is one of the basic building blocks in the developing system of long-term care.  On both economic and recuperative bases, home health care will continue to grow as an essential service for individuals, for families and for the community as a whole.

Former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

NCOA is excited to be part of this great event and honored to have such influential award winners in the field of aging.

National Council of Aging

CMS to Pilot Test Family Experience of Care Survey - Requests Comment on Data Collection Burden and Other Issues

April 9, 2013 03:43 PM

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has developed a hospice experience of care survey to be field-tested in 2013.  The survey will include 730 bereaved family members or close friends of hospice patients who died while in hospice care at home, in nursing homes, or in inpatient settings, including acute care hospitals and freestanding hospice inpatient units.

Field-test findings will be used to refine survey content and implementation procedures in advance of CMS’ planned national implementation of a hospice survey. Responses to this national survey could ultimately be used for public reporting of hospice quality performance.

CMS announced the plans for the pilot test in the April 4, 2013, Federal Registeras part of a request for comment on the estimated time burden associated with the field-test, as well as other aspects related to the collection of information, including:

  • The necessity and utility of the proposed information collection for the proper performance of CMS’ functions
  • The accuracy of the estimated burden
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected
  • The use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden.

A rigorous, well-designed hospice survey will allow CMS to better understand the experiences of both hospice patients and their family members or friends, as reported by those individuals. This information will ultimately be used to help improve the quality of care hospice patients and their loved ones receive. 

CMS has previously stated that they do not intend to implement the experience of care survey and a hospice-specific data set (as part of the Hospice Quality Reporting Program) simultaneously. The expressed preference by CMS was to implement the data set first.  However, since development of the data set could take an extended period of time, CMS could choose to implement the hospice experience of care survey first in an effort to advance hospice public reporting.  

As anticipated, the hospice experience of care survey is modeled after the other Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys CMS has implemented for other healthcare providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies that have become part of their public reporting.

The hospice experience of care survey is similar to the Family Evaluation of Hospice Care (FEHC) survey, which is used by many hospice providers to assess family satisfaction.  The proposed survey will enhance Medicare’s capacity to evaluate hospice care and assess the value of hospice services to patients and their families. 

Survey data will be collected via mailed survey.  If no response is received within three weeks, the CMS vendor will telephone the family member/close friend to receive verbal responses to the survey. Several telephone attempts will be made over the course of 6-8 weeks.  CMS is expecting, based on current hospice survey experience, that there will be a 40 percent response rate. Separate, but similar, versions of the survey will be administered for each of the following three hospice care settings:

  1. In a home-based setting
  2. In a nursing home
  3. In an inpatient setting such as a freestanding inpatient unit or acute care hospital.

The bereaved family member or close friend for each patient, identified as the patient’s primary informal caregiver in hospice records, will receive one pre-notification letter and one survey mailing, followed by telephone interviews. The mailed survey will be formatted for data scanning, and data from all returned surveys will be scanned into an electronic data file. Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) will be used for the secondary mode of data collection for non-responders to the mailed request to complete the survey. 

A representative sample of hospices will be utilized for the study. Hospice-level data from this survey will not be made publicly available to Medicare beneficiaries or the general public because the results are from a field test of the survey instrument

One of the concerns from other experience of care surveys is the length of the survey itself and the length of time to complete it.  The home version of the survey contains 71 items and is estimated to require an average administration time of 15.8 minutes in English and 18.9 minutes in Spanish, for an average response time of 15.9 minutes or 0.266 hours.

The nursing home version of the survey contains 65 items and is estimated to require an average administration time of 14.4 minutes in English and 17.3 minutes in Spanish, for an average response time of 14.6 minutes or 0.243 hours.

The inpatient version of the survey contains 67 items and is estimated to require an average administration time of 14.9 minutes in English and 17.9 minutes in Spanish, for an average response time of 15.0 minutes or 0.251 hours.

The three versions of the survey can be found here.





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