Culture change at nursing homes slows decline for those in the early stages of cognitive impairment: study

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Culture change has been shown to improve nursing home residents' depressive symptoms and dining experience, according to a recently released study by the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMASS Boston.

Only 13% of U.S. nursing homes have comprehensively adopted culture change, compared to 74% of homes that have partially implemented the approach of “person-centered” care, researchers said.

The goal of the culture change movement is to improve the quality of life and quality of care for residents by transforming nursing homes to be more “person-centered,” meaning residents' needs and choices govern the daily life of the home.

The study investigated the impact of culture change at three nursing homes in New Jersey, involving more than 100 residents, 180 aides and 54 nurses. It found that comprehensive culture change improves interactions between residents and their care partners, as well as depressive symptoms and dining experience.

The results showed a slowing in cognitive decline for people with mild cognitive impairment, which researchers said indicates culture change is an effective early intervention for older adults in the early stages of cognitive impairment. Since it's unclear whether the changes would be as beneficial for those in later stages of cognitive impairment, researchers suggest making sure that “the benefits of culture change justify the costs associated with implementing this model throughout a nursing home.”

Nursing homes that cannot make a complete physical redesign can still reap the benefits of culture change by: investing in neighborhood dining; focusing on resident choice more; and taking measures to create closer resident-care partner relationships.