27 April 2015
Aged Care ReviewsChanging the “culture” of a nursing home has been shown to improve the quality of the care given. This is according to a study of the topic. Brown University researchers of gerontology released the study, which shows that a residential lifestyle is more beneficial to aged care facilities. Turning nursing homes into places where people can actually feel at home, and have more say over how they live their lives, is proving to have many benefits.
Susan Miller, a professor of health services practice and policy at Brown University, led the research team in the study. They gave focus to homes where culture changes had been recently implemented, in at least some ways. The goal of the study was to determine if these changes in culture actually gave improvements to the quality of care. The study was published, in the form of an online paper, in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
What exactly is meant by a “culture change”? It means changing the ways that nursing homes are operated, and how they are structured. Rather than treating residents as though they were in a medical facility, the study suggests treating them as though they were living in a normal home setting. This could involve a number of things, like letting residents decide when they are going to eat lunch, instead of giving them set eating times.
824 nursing homes were looked at by Miller and her team. They assessed how much culture change had been introduced by 2009 - 2010. They also looked at some homes that brought in these changes in the period of 2015 - 2010. However, they excluded nursing homes that were forerunners in bringing about these changes, as well as homes that had brought in no culture changes.
Miller and her team divided the homes into groups, with the top quarter of homes that had brought in the most changes in one group. The second group was made up of the other three quarters. They used a list of 13 different measures for quality of care, and judged if these things had gotten better, or worse, a year after the changes were made. To make the study unbiased, they compared these conditions with homes that had not made any culture changes at all. In addition, they used controls to adjust for things like regional standards, the types of medical issues in the homes, and occupancy levels.
The research of Miller’s team showed that culture changes did have a positive effect. Once changes were introduced, the homes saw statistical improvements in many areas. This included how many residents needed to be restrained, success off bladder training, how common pressure ulcers were, and how many residents used feeding tubes. Some health care workers were worried that there would be more cases of residents falling over. While there were not less falls, due to culture changes, there was not an increase. This was surprising and welcome news for many.
In contrast with these findings, they did not notice any significant improvements with nursing homes that introduced minimal culture changes. The only changes noted in these homes were related to less health and lifestyle deficiencies. In fact, incidents of people needing to be hospitalized, or having urinary tract infections, increased.
Not all nursing homes are adopting this new way of thinking. The United States, where this study was undertaken, has nursing homes with ranging levels of change. This ranges from places that have not made any changes at all, to others where the residents are living a largely residential lifestyle.
The results from this study have certainly helped to affirm the belief that culture changes can help to improve aged health care. Giving the elderly a more residential type of lifestyle can have benefits that go beyond making them happier.
It should not be surprising that people in aged care facilities respond well to being treated like they were living in their own homes. There are many hardships that come with growing older. These include declining physical and mental wellbeing, as well as a loss of independence. It seems counterproductive to put aged citizens in an environment that seems more like a prison, than a home. If you are looking for the ideal place for your elderly family member to live, it might help to find one of these progressive nursing homes.
Would you like your parents to be treated as though they were a real resident, and not just another patient? Finding reliable information about the best residential-style nursing homes can be difficult. Luckily, this website houses many trustworthy reviews from people who have dealt with situations similar to your own. Culture changes do not need to be expensive, and more nursing homes are adopting them. It is advisable to look closely for a suitable nursing home for your aging relative.