Advance Care Planning in Nursing Homes

Posted on: Dec 23, 2016

The OPTIMIST project is an initiative developed by a team of researchers from the Indiana University Schools of Nursing and Medicine, and the Regenstrief Institute, who have implemented the project in many nursing homes. The goal of the initiative is to optimize patient transfers, impact medical quality, and improve symptoms, with the objective of transforming institutional care. By improving communication and care within nursing facilities and other medical care facilities, the hope is that problems that arise can be quickly identified and solved. Researchers have found a critical need for advance care planning in nursing home settings, but also acknowledge the challenges that nursing homes and other medical institutions face in providing and support high quality advance care planning.
A recent report detailed the attempt to integrate advance care planning into the nursing home setting through meetings with the nursing home residents and their families. These meetings caused changes to the resident’s care plan about two-thirds of the time. When asked their opinions, both residents and family members speaking on behalf of incapacitated residents tended to prefer less aggressive treatments rather than all available treatments, largely due to the already frail and chronically ill state of the residents. Almost half of these residents and their families largely were in favor of comfort care over more extreme life-sustaining medical interventions. Only about six percent of residents and their families declined to discuss advance care planning.
The study emphasized that while advance care planning in the nursing home environment is clearly important, it is necessary to train staff members, change what are often long-standing policies, and provide educational materials in order to implement this sort of planning. By asking residents what they want in terms of treatment, nursing homes can adjust residents’ care plans to better reflect their desires. Advance care planning is an approach that is encouraged both by the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When you or a loved one must enter a nursing home, you are likely to have more questions than answers. This is why consulting an experienced advance care planning lawyer can be so crucial to making the decisions that best fit your situation. Don’t delay in contacting the Washington elder law attorneys of Elder Law Group PLLC today, and set up a time to speak with us about your Long-Term Care planning needs.