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J Am Med Dir Assoc ; 2021 Dec 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1587370


Decades of concerns about the quality of care provided by nursing homes have led state and federal agencies to create layers of regulations and penalties. As such, regulatory efforts to improve nursing home care have largely focused on the identification of deficiencies and assignment of sanctions. The current regulatory strategy often places nursing home teams and government agencies at odds, hindering their ability to build a culture of safety in nursing homes that is foundational to health care quality. Imbuing safety culture into nursing homes will require nursing homes and regulatory agencies to acknowledge the high-risk nature of post-acute and long-term care settings, embrace just culture, and engage nursing home staff and stakeholders in actions that are supported by evidence-based best practices. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted some of these actions, leading to changes in nursing survey and certification processes as well as deployment of strike teams to support nursing homes in crisis. These actions, coupled with investments in public health that include funds earmarked for nursing homes, could become the initial phases of an intentional renovation of the existing regulatory oversight from one that is largely punitive to one that is rooted in safety culture and proactively designed to achieve meaningful and sustained improvements in the quality of care and life for nursing home residents.

J Am Med Dir Assoc ; 22(10): 1989-1997, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1330933


Social functioning is defined as how a person operates in their unique social environment (ie, engagement in activities, connectedness with others, and contributions to social roles). Healthy social functioning is important for nursing home residents as they are at increased risk for loneliness and isolation. Social functioning has long been an underacknowledged aspect of nursing home residents' health, but now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, residents' risk for decreased social functioning is increased. Several reliable and well-validated tools are available to supplement routine care planning and delivery and track and improve changes in social functioning over time. The overarching aim of this article is to provide resources and recommendations for interdisciplinary team assessment related to social functioning for nursing home residents. We describe 2 domains of social functioning measures, care-planning measures and outcome measures, and provide recommendations for how to integrate said measures into practice. Healthy social functioning is needed to maintain nursing home residents' well-being and quality of life. Measures and recommendations outlined in this article can be used by nursing home staff to understand residents' social preferences and address social functioning during COVID-19 and beyond.

COVID-19 , Quality of Life , Humans , Nursing Homes , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Interaction
J Am Med Dir Assoc ; 22(3): 682-688, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-761756


OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to further knowledge of older Veterans' experiences with transitioning to the community from Veterans Affairs nursing homes (Community Living Centers or CLCs) with emphasis on social functioning. DESIGN: A qualitative study design was used in addition to administration of standardized depression and mental status screens. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Veterans (n = 18) and caregivers (n = 14) were purposively sampled and recruited from 2 rural CLCs in Upstate New York. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were completed with Veterans in the CLC prior to discharge (to explore experiences during the CLC stay and expectations regarding discharge and returning home) and in the home 2-4 weeks postdischarge (to explore daily routines and perceptions of overall health, mental health, and social functioning). Caregivers participated in 1 interview, completed postdischarge. The 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire and the Brief Interview for Mental Status were administered postdischarge. RESULTS: Thematic analysis of verbatim transcriptions revealed 3 inter-related themes: (1) Veterans may experience improved social connectedness in CLCs by nature of the unique care environment (predominantly male, shared military experience); (2) Experiences of social engagement and connectedness varied after discharge and could be discordant with Veterans' expectations for recovery prior to discharge; and (3) Veterans may or may not describe themselves as "lonely" after discharge, when physically isolated. Veterans lacked moderate to severe cognitive impairment (Brief Interview for Mental Status: range = 14-15); however, they reported a wide range in depressive symptom severity postdischarge (9-item Patient Health Questionnaire: mean = 4.9, SD = 6.1, median/mode = 3, range = 0-23). CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study identified a potential for increased social isolation and disengagement after discharge from Veterans Affairs nursing homes. Nursing homes should integrate social functioning assessment for their residents, while extending care planning and transitional care to address patient-centered social functioning goals.

Veterans , Aftercare , Humans , Male , New York , Nursing Homes , Patient Discharge , Patient Transfer , United States , United States Department of Veterans Affairs