Long-Term Care Services: Improving the Quality of Services

As earlier been noted, the increasing number of the elderly population has not only resulted in increased cases of dependence and disabilities but has also put more strain on the available facilities for long-term health care. As a result, some of the challenges to the provision of shortage of skilled and competent workforce increased cost of financial expenditure as well as the strain of the infrastructure and medical equipment among many others.

However, there are currently several recommendations that can be employed by LTC administrators to enable them to improve the quality and develop patient-centered long-term care programs. Some of these potential solutions include improvement of the staffing in the LTC programs, the use of better tools of quality measurements, and integrating the long-term care systems to reduce their cost of expenditures (Munroe, 1990).

The challenge of workforce shortages is largely attributed to the fact that the increased demand for long-term care has currently exceeded the available skilled and qualified workers such as nurses and doctors who are responsible for the delivery of such services. As a result, most nursing homes, as well as agencies providing long-term care, are now acute shortages for their basic care services. The issue of workforce shortages can be effectively mitigated if the administrators improve the staffing in the LTC programs. On the other hand, the challenges related to the lack of effective quality assessments can be addressed by developing comprehensive criteria for the assessment that is consistent with required quality standards. Such assessment models should address all elements s of quality assessment including, the process, the structure, and outcomes.

Although measuring patient satisfaction can sometimes be difficult, the other indicators of satisfaction such as direct observation of the patients and the staff can be employed to help in the creation of a patient-centered LTC program. Additionally, the challenge of lack of effective evidence-based measures of the quality of long-term care can be solved by undertaking more research on the correlation between the quality indicators and the outcomes of the long-term care services. Finally, the quality of the LTC services can significantly be improved by comparing the outcomes obtained during the assessment with the expected standards Werner and Konetzka, 2010).

On the other hand, the challenge of the rising costs of expenditure in long-term care programs can only be addressed through the implementation of policies that work towards the consolidation and mergers of the facilities or institutions providing long-term care services. In this regard, the administrators of the long-term care service programs should always work hard to ensure that the programs allow collaborative relationships among the LTC providers and agencies.

This not only reduces the costs of the provision of these services but also helps the patients to adapt more quickly when they move from one care facility to another. According to Merlis (2003), rebalancing these institutions with community-based care in the provision of a continuum of LTC services is another potential solution to the strain on both the resources and the workforce in the long-term care facilities. In this context, many disabled and elderly patients will be able to receive their long-term care services from community-based care which are relatively cheaper.

References

Merlis, M. (2003) Private long-term care insurance: who should buy it and what they should buy. Kaiser Family Foundation. 6, 2, 19-37.

Munroe, D. (1990).The Influence of Registered Nurse Staffing on the Quality of Nursing Home Care, Research in Nursing and Health 13,1, 263–270.

Werner, M., Konetzka, R.(2010). Advancing nursing home quality through quality improvement itself. Health Affairs, 29, 1, 81-87.