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The University's Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research launched a Web site last month aimed at providing researchers and policy-makers with data on the quality of nursing home care in the United States.

The Web site is the first of its kind to "provide a massive amount of data all in one site that has never been brought together before," said Denise Tyler, project manager of the Center's project Shaping Long-Term Care in America. The site is also innovative for its conversion of patient-level data into broader-scale information about whole nursing homes, she said.

The site, ltcfocus.org, was created by a team of about 10 faculty researchers led by Vincent Mor, professor of community health and chair of the department, and was assisted by half a dozen Web design specialists, Tyler said. A number of graduate and post-doctoral students were involved in testing the site.

The Web site allows users to create and compare data sets or maps by state, number of beds, demographics and Medicaid policies, among other variables. Users can also register to receive updates and downloads of the data. 

While data is currently only available for the years between 2000 to 2007, the Center hopes to soon acquire and post information through 2009.

"The next set of variables will be ‘quality measures' variables related to nursing-home care," Tyler said. "We'd like to add information on other forms of nursing care, such as assisted living facilities and home health care."

The site primarily targets lawmakers and researchers of long-term care, and Tyler said the project is designed to be "user-friendly for policymakers, state legislature people and their aides," Tyler said. Although the site is not designed for consumers, Tyler said the resource "could be used by people who are researching nursing homes for a loved one."

A symposium about the Web site was held at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America in Atlanta, Ga. last month. Members of the research team gave four presentations regarding the site, touching on data sources, site navigation and the reliability of the data, Tyler said.

"We've had a lot of positive feedback so far," she said.




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