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

May 4, 2012, Ryerson University

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:

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

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.


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.