Take families’ observations seriously, researchers urge

Skilled nursing residents’ family members may be the key to helping reduce unnecessary hospital admissions, according to a recent study.

Citing an increasing number of policies aimed at reducing preventable hospitalizations, a United Kingdom-based research team conducted telephone interviews with nursing home residents’ family members to gauge how their involvement impacted their loved ones’ care.

Fourteen interviews were conducted between November 2015 and March 2016, with family members of residents living in 13 different facilities in the United Kingdom.

The results, published online in the Journal of Clinical Nursing in late May, found that family members could help gauge residents’ health by detecting signs of changes in their health, informing facility staff about their observations, and educating employees about those health changes.

The family members also suggested that nursing home staff could support them to detect timely changes.

“Families can provide a special contribution to the process of timely detection in nursing homes,” wrote lead researcher Catherine Powell, Ph.D., a research fellow with the School of Dementia Studies at the University of Bradford. “Their involvement needs to be negotiated, better supported, as well as given more legitimacy and structure within the nursing home.”