April 20, 2009

Arkansas Praised for Nursing Home Improvement Campaign

 Carol Benner (center), of Washington D.C., praised Arkansas’ nursing home improvement efforts led by UAMS’ Cornelia Beck (left) and Claudia Beverly. Carol Benner (center), of Washington D.C.,
praised Arkansas’ nursing home improvement
efforts led by UAMS’ Cornelia Beck (left)
and Claudia Beverly.

April 20, 2009 | UAMS has helped Arkansas become a national leader in nursing home reforms, earning praise and a recent visit from Carol Benner, field director of the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes Campaign.

Benner was at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to conduct a webinar with the 237 nursing homes participating in the national Advancing Excellence campaign. Benner congratulated the nursing homes on their achievements, including a dramatic decrease in the use of restraints and a 21 percent decline in complaints.  

“Arkansas has improved at a rate much faster than other states,” said Benner, of Washington, D.C. “Having UAMS as a neutral party has been instrumental in achieving these reforms,” Benner said in an interview at the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging.

UAMS geriatric nursing experts Claudia Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., and Cornelia Beck, Ph.D., R.N., along with Peggy Moody, executive director of Catlett Care, led the 2004 creation of the Arkansas Coalition for Nursing Home Excellence. The coalition includes more than 30 groups and individuals, such as the Arkansas Office of Long-Term Care, which regulates nursing homes, and the Arkansas Health Care Association, which lobbies on behalf of the nursing home industry and the Arkansas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents.

The Advancing Excellence campaign is a major part of the Arkansas Coalition’s focus on fostering culture changes in nursing homes to allow residents more basic freedoms and to improve quality of care and quality of life.

“When this campaign started, Arkansas led the nation in the use of restraints in nursing homes (15 percent),” said Beck. “Our usage is now down from 23 percent to 5.9 percent.” The national average is 4.1 percent.

Other nursing home changes being sought include more dining choices, including when and what the residents may eat. More flexible bathing schedules, visiting hours and improved staff retention also are important to residents’ quality of life.

Arkansas’ success in building trust among all the groups associated with nursing homes helped it become the first state to enroll 100 percent of its nursing homes in the Advancing Excellence program.

“It’s taken a coalition to get this done,” said Beverly, who is on the Advancing Excellence national steering committee, and is director of the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at UAMS. “It is the result of individuals being proactive and serious about the quality of care in nursing homes.”

Nursing homes that are enrolled had to set goals for improvements in at least three of eight areas, such as reducing pressure sores, improving staff retention, assessing patient and family satisfaction and reducing the use of physical restraints.

Although enrollment is voluntary and without government penalties, a public campaign Web site at http://www.nhqualitycampaign.org/ is tracking the progress of nursing homes that are enrolled. The Web site flags nursing homes with violations cited in state and federal government inspections reports.

The nursing home quality campaign Web site shows that Arkansas nursing homes have the lowest percentage of acute pain patients of any other state, rank 13th in the percentage of chronic pain patients and 19th in the percentage of patients with pressure ulcers.