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What Determines Quality of Care in Nursing Homes?

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Harvey L. Walner & Associates, Ltd.

March 23, 2014

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The American Medical Association describes quality of care as “care that consistently contributes to the improvement or maintenance of quality and/or duration of life.” Let me translate that into something useful for you.

Essentially there are three things evaluated to determine “quality of care”.

  1. Resources used to provide care (staff)
  2. Actions used to provide care (what’s the process for restraint use?)
  3. The outcome of the resources and actions used (i.e. result on the patient)

When you are determining the quality of care within the facility where your elderly loved one resides make sure to ask these questions.

  • Does the home have a high staff to patient ratio?
  • How much time is spent daily in direct patient care?
  • What sort of qualifications and training are required of staff members who are caring for the patients?
  • Is there ongoing professional development and training opportunities?

When you are satisfied that the nursing home facility uses adequate resources to provide care for your loved one and with the quality of staff provided, you must ask about how the care is provided. The staff policies and procedures for direct care are as important as the staff person who is implementing the procedures.

  • What methods are used to restrain the patients?
  • What is the process for restraint?
  • How is medication administered?
  • What are the procedures for calming down an upset patient?

Lastly, listen and look.

  • What results do you see coming from the staff and the care they provide?
  • Is the elderly patient responding positively to their caregiver?
  • Has there been a drastic behavioral change with your loved one?
  • Is the appropriate amount of prescription pills left in the elderly patient’s pill container?

You know your loved one well. After evaluating the level of quality care at any nursing home facility, also make sure it is a good fit where the elderly person needing care feels comfortable.

Remember, multi-state chain facilities may have big name recognition, but have been shown to spend more on corporate costs and less on the providing quality care.

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