A survey you don't have to worry about

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Mary Gustafson, McKnight's Staff Writer
Mary Gustafson, McKnight's Staff Writer

The quality of nursing home care is improving and residents — and their families are noticing.

That's the message two industry researchers want administrators and caregivers to take away from new survey findings.

The University of Missouri's Sinclair School of Nursing released the results of a survey Monday showing that a vast majority of Missouri nursing home residents, overall, are very happy with the care being delivered.

The survey, which was funded by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and developed by My InnerView, polled residents and family members of nearly 200 Missouri long-term care facilities.

And the good news is not confined to just Missouri, the study's investigators told me.

Marcia Flesner, Ph.D., RN, and Dr. Marilyn Rantz, Ph.D., RN, said the results of their survey are consistent with surveys conducted in more than 25 states. They attributed this shift in perception largely to the success of the culture change movement and efforts to make nursing homes feel more, well, home-like.

“Administrators can look at this [survey] and say, ‘We have improved. We're providing a necessary service, it's something that people need,'” Rantz said.

Rantz and Flesner acknowledge that it's not realistic for most facilities to launch a full-scale redesign in order to incorporate elements of culture change.

When they asked respondents which policy changes made the biggest difference in the perception of their care, it turned out to be things such as letting residents set their own schedules; providing private rooms and bathrooms; and allowing them to choose when they wanted their meals.

“I suspect it's the change in nursing homes' approach to care that has made the biggest difference,” Flesner explained. “We've seen a real effort to give residents control of their own schedules. The federal government has come a long way in encouraging culture change, too.”

Flesner and Rantz encourage nursing home administrators to survey their own residents and extended families annually to find out where they stand as far as meeting their residents' needs.

“If I were leading a facility, I would be looking at what we do well and where we need to improve,” Rantz said.

And that's change you can believe in.

For nursing homes interested in self-assessments, Rantz developed a tool that might help. Click here for the nursing home instrument and here for an assisted living version.

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.