A new study from Brown University has linked communication and attentiveness in nursing homes with the quality of care, meaning that there could be another matrix by which nursing care facilities are rated.
The data was collected through surveys distributed to staff and directors at nursing homes through Brown’s School of Public Health. While the survey aspect of the study was based on more subjective opinions of how well physicians and nursing staff communicated with patients, these surveys were complemented with objective data, including rates of hospice referrals and hospitalization.
The results suggested that facilities with good communication between all levels gave their patients better care and were less likely to send them to a hospice or hospital. While this conclusion might seem obvious, it is vital to have concrete data backing it up so that facilities not meeting a high enough standard can be brought up to it.
Communication between medical staff and patients at nursing homes can be difficult. Unlike in a hospital, nursing home patients are almost entirely cared for by nurses, usually only seeing a doctor in an emergency or for a regular checkup. Most nursing homes have large nursing staffs and only a handful of physicians. These physicians are still responsible for treating patients, but nurses handle the bulk of their daily care.
It can be hard for family members to connect with their loved one’s physician in a nursing home. And although a nurse may know more about a patient than the physician, sometimes their input is ignored.
If you’re worried about getting the proper information you need regarding your loved one in a nursing home, try speaking with one of their regular nurses. They’ll be able to fill you in on their daily progress and can pass along concerns to the physician the next time they see your loved one.
Make sure to keep all the staff accountable. If your questions are not being answered, find out why and who you need to speak to. It might seem confrontational to go over the head of a physician, but if your loved one’s health is at risk, it’s a choice worth making.