Smaller, non-profit nursing homes and some of the shorter-term skilled nursing facilities tended to do well in a satisfaction survey of thousands of nursing home and assisted living residents in Ohio.
But residents still called out dining and activities as areas for improvement in the long-term care (LTC) field in the Buckeye State.
The Ohio Department of Aging on Tuesday released its 2017 Long-Term Care Resident Satisfaction Survey, which was conducted between July and December of last year by Vital Research, LLC. The surveyors interviewed 23,145 residents in 963 nursing homes and 12,849 residents of 687 AL facilities.
“Smaller nonprofits tended to do well, and some of the more short-term skilled units have performed quite well,” Erin Pettegrew, acting state long-term care ombudsman, told Skilled Nursing News. “I think they’ve aligned themselves to meet the very specific needs of the people coming out. Good discharge planning and things like that go a long way.”
Dining and activities could improve
The average score for resident satisfactions in nursing homes in Ohio was 77.8 out of 100, and most facilities will use that as a benchmark against their score, Pettegrew said. But she thinks facilities should dive even deeper to get the most out of the survey.
One area she thinks is particularly overlooked is the ramifications for nursing homes when residents don’t answer particular questions.
“Of course it requires a lot more digging and a little bit of speculation, but if somebody answers ‘no,’ ‘not applicable,’ ‘doesn’t apply to me’ to a question about activities, for instance, I want to know why,” Pettegrew said. “That is a whole industry … Here you have a facility staff person who is dedicated to activities who might be targeting the wrong demographic.”
The survey found that while residents were more satisfied with the environment in both nursing homes and AL facilities, there was lower satisfaction with meals and how residents spent time.
Dining is a particular challenge for senior care institutions, but investing in innovations in the area can pay off for facilities because meals can be a particular highlight for residents, Pettegrew said. Some ways to do that include investing in buffets and restaurant-style dining, incorporating residents into meal planning. or asking for resident feedback on the dining vendors.
“That will always be a big return on investment,” she said.
Another aspect of the resident experience that is often overlooked is the impact of moving to person-centered care, Pettegrew noted. One of the questions asked whether or not residents had the same people caring for them most of the time; Ohio’s score was 78 out of 100 on that front.
“That one question has an impact on a lot of other questions in the survey,” Pettegrew explained. “So the food question for instance, do you get your favorite foods — the more caregivers know the resident, the more they’re able to implement those requests. When the same therapist sees you, they don’t have to level set again. They will know what you’re looking to do, they will know [whether] you’re planning to discharge or not.”
The survey targets all sorts of stakeholders in the long-term care industry, including family members, residents, facility owners, and investors. Owners and investors in particular might find it useful to incorporate aspects of the results into performance improvement plans, Pettegrew said. But another interested party could be payers.
“I hope that insurance companies take a look,” she said. “Insurers — when they contract with facilities taking it into account, making decisions based on this kind of data — would go a long way.”
Written by Maggie Flynn