National study finds nurse practitioners vital to providing hands-on care for residents in long-term care facilities

May 4, 2012

A national study led by researchers from Ryerson University and Dalhousie University found that nurse practitioners play a vital role in providing rapid access to health care for residents living in long-term care settings, such as nursing homes and homes for the aged.

“As Canada’s population ages, there will be an increasing demand on long-term care (LTC) settings to provide the best quality of care for older adults,” says Faith Donald, one of the co- principal investigators of the study, and a nursing professor in Ryerson’s Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing.

Ontario launched a pilot program for 17 in LTC settings in 2000. Since then, other provinces have created similar programs in a variety of settings, such as nurse practitioners working in a single nursing home, collaborating with family health teams that provide health-care to LTC residents or providing rapid response to a number of in a region.

Donald and her co-principal investigator, Professor Ruth Martin-Misener were interested in exploring how these nurse practitioners were integrated into the long-term care system and what their roles were. Co-investigators on the research team were from McMaster University, Ontario; University of Waterloo, Ontario; and University of Victoria, British Columbia.

Over a period of three and a half years, the research team conducted a two-phase study that involved:

1) surveying nurse practitioners across Canada working in LTC settings and their administrators and directors of care; and

2) conducting interviews and focus groups in case studies in four different locations with a wide range of health-care providers including physicians, pharmacists and social workers, as well as residents living in long-term care and their family members.

The researchers found overwhelming evidence emphasizing the value of nurse practitioners working closely with residents, their family members and health-care professionals in LTC settings.

“Across the board, we found that when nurse practitioners were present in these settings, the people interviewed in our study reported improvements in quality of care and access to timely assessments for residents,” says Martin-Misener.

Donald says the study found that nurse practitioners in LTC sites were able to conduct rapid health assessments of a resident, reducing the need to rely on physicians who may not be available on site.

Nurse practitioners not only provided timely assessments of residents, they also managed chronic illnesses, conducted medication reviews, collaborated with nursing staff and communicated with residents, their families, physicians and staff members.

Family members also talked about the improved communication they had about their loved one’s health and well-being if their family member was cared for by a nurse practitioner.

“I recall one man who talked about how important having a nurse practitioner was to his parent’s care,” says Donald. “He told me if he had to pay extra money in order to have a nurse practitioner care for his parent, he would do that without question.”

The greatest barrier that nurse practitioners faced in the study was not having enough secure funding.

“If you’re not sure you’re going to have the nurse practitioner role for very long, there is a hesitancy to put in place programs that can make a big difference in residents’ health and well-being. Having consistent funding for nurse practitioners would alleviate this,” says Donald.

Looking towards the future, the research team will further explore the specific types of care that nurse practitioners provide and their impact on residents’ health in long-term care settings.

Explore further: Nurse practitioners 'critical link' in meeting new care demands sparked by health reform

More information: ryerson.ca/apnltc/pdf/FinalReport.pdf

Related Stories

Nurse practitioners 'critical link' in meeting new care demands sparked by health reform

September 19, 2011
One of the nation's leading voices in patient care and safety says that the key to successfully navigating the challenges and changes that health care reform will bring is the ability to "reimagine and redefine" what nursing ...

Multidisciplinary integrated care for seniors gives better quality care

June 27, 2011
Multidisciplinary integrated care of seniors in residential care facilities resulted in better quality of care, found a Dutch study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

For expert comment: Missouri nursing homes have happy clients, MU researchers say

March 27, 2012
As loved ones age and face challenges that prevent them from living on their own, family members often struggle with the decision to place their relatives in nursing homes. Sometimes viewed as last alternatives, long-term ...

Strong leadership necessary to provide more sophisticated care for aging population, study finds

September 13, 2011
Strong leadership, communication and teamwork are essential to successful organizations, especially health care facilities. However, how those organizations achieve improvement is not clearly understood, says a University ...

Recommended for you

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

Alcohol to claim 63,000 lives over next five years, experts warn

July 24, 2017
Alcohol consumption will cause 63,000 deaths in England over the next five years – the equivalent of 35 deaths a day – according to a new report from the University of Sheffield Alcohol Research Group.

App lets patients work alone or with others to prevent, monitor, and reverse chronic disease

July 24, 2017
Lack of patient adherence to treatment plans is a lingering, costly problem in the United States. But MIT Media Lab spinout Twine Health is proving that regular interventions from a patient's community of supporters can greatly ...

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.