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High-quality nursing homes lower risks for long-term care placement for older adults

April 17, 2018

After being discharged from the hospital, an older person often is admitted directly to a skilled nursing facility (SNF). SNFs specialize in the skilled care we need to recover properly. These facilities also provide the additional rehabilitation we may need before returning home. However, experts have raised concerns about the uneven quality of SNF services, the substantial differences among them, and how they are used in different parts of the country. A transfer from an SNF to a long-term care facility, for example, is considered a failure to achieve the goals of SNF care. Most older people view a move to a long-term care facility as a step in the wrong direction.

In a new study, researchers decided to examine the role that SNFs play with regard to older adults' placements in long-term care facilities. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers studied the role of SNF quality and how it affected older adults' risks of transitioning to long-term care facilities. They also looked at whether any aspects of skilled nursing were linked with an older adult's risk of entering long-term care facilities. The research team focused specifically on whether the quality ratings of SNFs (available to the public, free of charge, here) helped predict long-term care placements.

The researchers used information from a variety of Medicare and other qualified sources that included data on more than 500,000 people aged 65 and older.

The researchers learned that a person's risk of eventual placement in long-term care nursing homes varied a great deal based on the SNF where they received care. Older adults in SNFs with higher quality ratings had significantly lower risks for placement in long-term care facilities.

The researchers concluded that learning more about the processes in place at specific SNFs might help explain variations in care and could help guide future efforts. Eventually, these efforts may help older adults successfully return to the community following hospitalization.

This summary is from "Clinical Investigation: Variation among skilled nursing facilities in patients' risk of subsequent long-term care residence." It appears online ahead of print in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study authors are James S. Goodwin, MD; Shuang Li, PhD; Addie Middleton, PhD, PT; Kenneth Ottenbacher, PhD, OTR; and Yong-Fang Kuo, PhD.
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About the Health in Aging Foundation

This research summary was developed as a public education tool by the Health in Aging Foundation. The Foundation is a national non-profit established in 1999 by the American Geriatrics Society to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public. We are committed to ensuring that people are empowered to advocate for high-quality care by providing them with trustworthy information and reliable resources. Last year, we reached nearly 1 million people with our resources through HealthinAging.org. We also help nurture current and future geriatrics leaders by supporting opportunities to attend educational events and increase exposure to principles of excellence on caring for older adults. For more information or to support the Foundation's work, visit http://www.HealthinAgingFoundation.org.

About the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Included in more than 9,000 library collections around the world, the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) highlights emerging insights on principles of aging, approaches to older patients, geriatric syndromes, geriatric psychiatry, and geriatric diseases and disorders. First published in 1953, JAGS is now one of the oldest and most impactful publications on gerontology and geriatrics, according to ISI Journal Citation Reports®. Visit wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/JGS for more details.

About the American Geriatrics Society

Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals that has--for 75 years--worked to improve the health, independence, and quality of life of older people. Its nearly 6,000 members include geriatricians, geriatric nurses, social workers, family practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and internists. The Society provides leadership to healthcare professionals, policymakers, and the public by implementing and advocating for programs in patient care, research, professional and public education, and public policy. For more information, visit AmericanGeriatrics.org.

American Geriatrics Society

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