Science & Research

Initiative to emphasize more efficient medical care, nurse training

Faculty members will collaborate with medical professionals to study models for post-acute care

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 24, 2014

A new wide-scale research initiative announced last week will allow University faculty members and medical professionals to investigate quality and efficacy in long-term and post-acute medical care. In collaboration with the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, the University is launching the Long Term Care Quality and Innovation Center to undertake this research.

The center’s studies will primarily focus on care provided by skilled nursing facilities.

The center will conduct larger-scale studies focused on care programs that have proven effective in previous smaller studies, said Vincent Mor, professor of health services, policy and practice, who will head the center. These undertakings will be “very applied research,” Mor said, adding that the eventual goal is to put findings from these studies into real-world practice. Much of the research will be based on smaller studies, but new research will focus on targeting larger groups of patients to determine how best to “reintroduce things that we know will work throughout the system,” he added.

An advisory panel comprising three representatives from the University and three from the AHCA will lead the new initiative, Mor said. The AHCA/NCAL has donated $1 million to kick-start the center, which will be located in the University’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research, according to an AHCA press release. There are currently 20 faculty members and their students involved in research at the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research, according to the press release.

Studies undertaken by the center’s members will focus on a “broad array of issues,” revolving around the quality and efficacy of the care patients receive in nursing homes, Mor said. Many previous studies have done evidence-based investigation, but very few have taken their results to scale by implementing them in standards of practice, he said. The advisory panel intends to change this by undertaking research in multiple nursing homes and ultimately shaping the training of caregivers based on its findings, he added.

Terrie Fox Wetle, a member of the advisory panel and dean of the School of Public Health, said she calls this type of study “translatable research,” adding that it is one of the novel facets of the center. Faculty and staff at the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research will strive to gain better understandings of organization and delivery of care in nursing homes and other people with chronic care, she added.

While a large portion of quality-focused research on health care involves the study of the overarching quality of care and patient satisfaction, the center’s research will pinpoint specific measures of study to investigate these issues.

For example, one research project will explore methods of minimizing the use of antibiotics in nursing homes to thereby reduce antibiotic resistance in patients, Mor said.

The advisory panel hopes to explore ways to improve head nurses’ supervision and management of nursing homes, Mor said. In addition to practical medical care, much of nurses’ work in a nursing home involves managing employees and residents, though nurses generally receive little training for these roles, he added.

Funding for the center will come from both public and private sources, and the advisory panel hopes the center will be financially self-sustaining after a period of three to five years, according to the press release.