Questions Key to Rating Nursing Home Care

Surveying residents with 'yes/no' queries won't work, study finds

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FRIDAY, June 24, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Asking nursing home residents the right questions may be crucial to really understanding if quality-improvement measures are working, a new study finds.

Nursing homes often distribute "assessment surveys" quizzing residents on their satisfaction at the center. In the study, researchers at the Borun Center for Gerontological Research in Los Angeles asked 45 residents at two nursing homes a series of questions after improvements had been made at the residences.

They found that some types of questions drew sensitive responses while others did not. Resident responses to direct satisfaction-oriented questions -- for example, 'Are you satisfied with how often a staff member helps you walk?' -- didn't change even after improvements to that particular service.

On the other hand, "discrepancy questions" -- for example, 'How many times during the day did a staff member help you walk?' -- were sensitive to improvements in care, the study authors said.

The findings should help nursing home residents better assess whether or not specific innovations are improving care. "If nursing home staff improve services to better meet residents' needs and preferences, then resident satisfaction with care should also increase. If it doesn't, then the right questions are probably not being asked," study lead author Dr. Sandra Simmons, assistant professor at the Borun Center, said in a prepared statement.

The study was published in the June issue of the journal The Gerontologist.

More information:

The U.S. National Institute on Aging offers advice on choosing a long-term care facility.

SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, June 2005

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