Quality improvements in nursing homes, rehab facilities right on track, new report says

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Nursing home quality improvement efforts over the last few years have largely met their goals, according to a new report examining quality trends in the nation's nursing homes. The report, which also warned about potential ill effects of any reduced Medicare funding, was released Monday by the American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

Although there is still room for change, there have been measurable quality improvements in a number of areas, including reduced use of restraints, fewer occurrences of pressure ulcers, improved weight and pain management, and levels of patient activity, say authors of the 2009 Annual Quality Report. Patient satisfaction rates—the percentage of patients who rate their nursing home experience as either "excellent" or "good"—climbed to 85% in 2008, up from 82% in 2007, they add.

The report also highlights the changing role of nursing homes in an aging country: Up to 40% of nursing home rehabilitation patients return to their homes or the community within 25 days. With a much greater focus on post-acute care, the length of stay of most patients is now less than 90 days, according to findings. Researchers also said they found a correlation between adequate reimbursement and quality improvements, suggesting that stable Medicare reimbursements are key to continuing the trend of quality improvements in facilities.

Many of the positive changes highlighted in the report can be attributed to the Quality First initiative begun by providers in 2002, said AHCA President and CEO Bruce Yarwood and Alliance President Alan Rosenbloom. The data and statistics for the report were gathered from a variety of sources, including Avalere Health, Brown University School of Medicine, PointRight, My InnerView and publicly available government information. The report is available www.ahca.org and www.aqnhc.org.


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