One of the key functions of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is to help nursing homes and other long-term care providers in Ohio continuously improve the care and services they provide. Caring for adults with dementia can be especially challenging. To do so most effectively, caregivers should get to know the individual so that they can respond to their needs more directly. Unfortunately, with limited time and resources, nursing homes across the country have relied too heavily on medications as the quickest and most direct way to address difficult behaviors. As a result, anti-psychotic medications have been given to too many residents. This practice has been identified as dangerous or potentially fatal for those with dementia.
While medication often works in suppressing the undesired behavior, it does nothing to address the underlying cause or causes of that behavior. We know from extensive research that when nursing home staff are fully engaged with those they care for, they can help them experience the best possible quality of life and reduce the reliance on possibly unnecessary and dangerous medications.
To help nursing homes shift from medications to a person-centered approach, the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have allowed us to leverage grant funds to improve resident care. The grant is funded through fines levied on nursing homes that are cited for poor quality of care. Turning these funds into grant projects that improve quality is a creative approach to improving resident care.
The Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman is working with the Eden Alternative to make a unique educational package of training programs available to Ohio nursing homes. These programs have been proven to build staff confidence in using non-medication approaches in dementia care. Eden Alternative is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to transforming care environments into habitats that promote quality of life for all involved. Research has shown this leads to improved quality of care and higher rates of satisfaction for everyone involved, while also benefiting the bottom line of provider organizations.
We will fund as many as 100 Ohio nursing homes to combine the Eden Alternative’s Dementia Beyond Drugs, Reframing Dementia: Train the Change Agent, and Care Partner Workshop training programs. Limited registration for this quality improvement initiative is now open. Learn more: https://2dff35.campgn4.com/Creating-a-Culture-of-PersonDirected-Dementia-Care-in-Ohio.
Erin Pettegrew is Ohio’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman.