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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Hospital Newsletter Article] The New Nursing Home

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Believe I’ve reblogged on this concept within the past two years…
Yes, this model is a bit pricy, but can we afford not to move in this direction?

Excerpts from the Fall 2003 article at Proto – Dispatches from the Frontiers of Medicine (Massachusetts General Hospital)

At the vanguard of innovation in the nursing home industry, the three-year-old Leonard Florence Center for Living exemplifies a new model of long-term care known as the Green House, and nothing about it seems institutional. Each of the five upper floors constitutes two separate “households” with private rooms for 10 residents. The normally dominant nurse’s station has been eliminated and instead there are common areas in each household—a living room furnished with comfortable sofas and chairs around a fireplace, an open kitchen and a communal dining table where residents often eat together. Cooking, housekeeping and even laundry are handled by two certified nursing aides known as shahbazim—derived from Persian, it means “nurturing of elders”—who also care for residents. Traditional nursing homes, in contrast, have clear demarcations separating housekeepers, kitchen workers, nurses and aides, who follow rigid schedules for serving meals or dispensing medications.

At Leonard Florence, Mehlhop can sleep, bathe, eat and roam around whenever she wants. The environment is calm and cheery, with none of the physical restraints found in most nursing homes or the alarms that sound if residents get up from a wheelchair, for example. (Instead, patients wear ankle bracelets that help the staff keep tabs on them and will disable the elevator if a patient tries to leave.)

Leonard Florence is far from the only nursing facility striving to create a homelike atmosphere and improve residents’ quality of life. Building a new Green House or undertaking a major physical renovation can be part of the strategy, but other nursing homes are primarily working to transform how they’re run, embracing a movement known simply as “culture change” that entails shifting away from the emphasis on efficiency and economies of scale that characterizes most nursing homes. Culture change typically requires an operational reorganization to give staff members more autonomy and to let residents have a say in even the smallest details of their lives. “It’s about not looking at residents as a task, but rather as who they are as individuals,”

Yet building a new, small nursing home that can handle only a relative handful of residents is an expensive proposition. “If it weren’t for the price tag, everyone would be doing it,” says Barry Berman, chief executive officer of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation, which owns the Leonard Florence Center. The home cost $36 million to build, with some two-thirds of the money coming from private donations and government programs. Most traditional nursing homes cost less than half that much, but the Leonard Florence Center is over twice the size of a traditional nursing home and was the first Green House to be built in an urban area. Its multistory construction is also a departure from the usual single-level, ranch-style homes that are typical of Green House centers. The payoff, however, has been the residents’ lower hospitalization and readmission rates. The center has also received high scores for resident and family satisfaction, which Berman describes as “off the charts.” The foundation is now undertaking a $13 million renovation of a 30-year-old, 120-bed skilled nursing facility across town from Leonard Florence. “We’re bringing in as many elements of the Green House as we can and doing our best to retrofit a traditional nursing home,” says Adam Berman, chief operating officer of the nonprofit.

The Green House model is receiving increased academic scrutiny, and early studies have shown positive trends in quality of life for residents, greater family satisfaction, and a lower incidence of rehospitalization, bedsores, depression and other health problems. According to the Green House Project, 83% of Green Houses received a rating of four out of five stars or better on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ five-star quality rating system, compared to 42% of nursing homes nationally. But the data are early. “The jury’s still out on whether Green Houses or other small homes achieve equal or better clinical outcomes than traditional models, and whether they’re financially sustainable—factors that may ultimately matter a lot more than the humanistic components in terms of their future growth…

Studies of the model’s effectiveness have found a higher quality of care, reduced staff turnover and lower rates of infections for residents….

As  encouraging as such stories may be, however, there are questions about how far relatively small-scale efforts can go to reform a giant industry. In a 2010 study by Susan Miller, a professor of health services, practice and policy at Brown University School of Public Health, leadership issues, higher costs and regulatory problems were cited by long-term-care leaders as the most common barriers to implementing culture change. Yet many experts believe those obstacles can be overcome. For example, a campaign called Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes provides an array of do-it-yourself resources and networks of advisors to help improve clinical outcomes. More than 9,000 nursing homes have participated since the campaign’s launch in 2006. Meanwhile, federal regulators have adjusted some rules to encourage and reward culture change—for example, rather than checking that a nursing home has regular meal schedules, making sure that residents are well fed. And proponents point to studies showing that nursing homes committed to culture change may benefit financially. A study by Pioneer Network, for example, found that from 2004 to 2008, facilities undergoing culture change achieved higher occupancy rates and increased revenue.

Related Resource

November 6, 2013 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, health care | , , , ,

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