The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently released a groundbreaking report on improving the nursing home experience funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund, The Sephardic Foundation on Aging, Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation. Committee experts contributing to the study ranged from leaders in prestigious academic nursing, gerontology, medicine and public health programs as well as leaders in veteran care and departments of health across the country.
Nursing Home Quality Improvement: A National Imperative for Residents, Families, and Staff is available in paperback or FREE ebook and addresses the critical need for quality improvement.
Nursing homes have been of utmost importance in the United States long-term care sector, offering residents not only essential medical care but also a soothing atmosphere infused with familiarity and solace. In these critical structures, around 1.3 million Americans reside in one of the 15,000 licensed nursing facilities. Nevertheless, the nursing home industry has faced numerous challenges and structural issues over time, underscoring the criticality of enhancing the quality of care and services provided. The 2022 study titled “The National Imperative to Improve Nursing Home Quality” aims to enhance the well-being of residents in nursing homes, their families, and the dedicated personnel providing care.
The Evolution of Nursing Home Care: A Journey through Time
A key event in nursing home care occured with the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA 87), which established more stringent standards for nursing homes, aiming to address significant issues such as neglect, abuse, and poor quality of life. While there have been substantial quality improvements over the past four decades, the sector still faces challenges that compromise the well-being and safety of nursing home residents.
COVID-19’s Unprecedented Impact on Nursing Homes
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and exacerbated longstanding issues within nursing homes. Inadequate staffing levels, poor infection control, regulatory failures, and deficiencies resulting in patient harm were brought to the forefront, often by blistering media attention. This crisis also underscored the vulnerability of nursing home residents, revealing a pervasive ageism that undervalues the lives of older adults. With many residents having underlying health conditions, nursing homes bore a disproportionate share of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19. For instance, as of October 2021, nursing home residents accounted for about 19% of all COVID-19 deaths despite making up less than 0.5% of the U.S. population.
Key Takeaways: A Deeper Look at Nursing Home Quality
The Committee on the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes arrived at six key issues in addressing quality:
- The present financing, delivering, and regulating care system in nursing homes is ineffective, unsustainable, and fragmented, demanding significant transformation.
- Both federal and state governments, healthcare providers, regulators and nursing homes should establish a joint commitment to the residents of nursing homes.
- Attempts should be made to prevent the quality advancement initiatives from exacerbating disparities and accessibility of care.
- High quality research is required to improve the quality of nursing homes.
- Underinvestment and lack of accountability is observed in nursing homes.
- Effective execution of the committee’s recommendations will be required for the targeted investments related to transparency.
Seven Goals to Improve Nursing Home Quality
These seven goals are focused on:
- Delivering comprehensive, person-centered, equitable care that ensures the health, quality of life and safety of nursing home residents
- Ensuring a well prepared, empowered and appropriately compensated workforce
- Improving transparency and accountability in financial and operational matters
- Creating of more rational and robust financing system
- Designing a more effective and responsive system of quality assurance
- Expanding and enhancing quality measurement and continuous improvement
- Adopting health information technology in all nursing homes
Call to Action
The urgency to reform nursing home care is undeniable, particularly considering the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact. Implementing the committee’s recommendations is crucial to move towards high-quality, person-centered, and equitable care for all nursing home residents. The time to act is now, ensuring that residents, their families, and staff no longer have to wait for the needed improvements in the quality of care in nursing homes. By committing to these goals and working collaboratively, we can provide a brighter future for those residing in nursing homes and offer the dignity and respect they deserve.
At Hucu.ai, we are committed to supporting the mission of enhancing nursing home quality. Our platform harnesses the power of technology to improve communication, care coordination, and overall resident well-being in nursing homes. Together, we can drive the transformation needed to create a better future for nursing home residents and their families.