FCS International

February 29, 2008 10:20 ET

FCS International: Minimal Standards for 'Quality of Life' in Nursing Homes Need to be Defined and Measured to Improve Lives of Elderly Says Industry Consultant

More funding alone won't help residents in long-term care unless nursing homes start measuring quality of life separate from managing risks

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 29, 2008) -

Attn: News Editors, Health Reporters

Elderly nursing home residents may benefit from more funding for their facilities, but their lives won't improve dramatically unless Ontario starts rewarding nursing home operators who demonstrate a commitment to performance planning that measures quality of life for seniors, says a long-term care consultant.

Jayne Harvey, a registered nurse and CEO of FCS international, says "Although funding is always an issue, the real challenge is to fix how long-term care facilities operate and hire well trained, motivated staff who are focused on encouraging quality of life." She adds, "All the briefs in the world won't help the residents who are undoubtedly saying, 'yeah my bottom is comfortable, but the people around me are miserable.'" Based in Port Perry, Ontario, Ms. Harvey is a leading consultant in the long-term care sector with over 20 years of experience working with nursing homes across Canada.

Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman, who is responsible for long-term care facilities, sparked outrage this week by saying he is prepared to don an adult diaper - and use it - to satisfy himself that elderly residents of the province's nursing homes are getting appropriate care. "Rather than wearing adult diapers, I would like to challenge Mr. Smitherman to introduce measures which ask nursing home operators to review softer metrics such as teamwork, patience, honesty, warmth, and caring," says Ms. Harvey.

Lifestyle and sense of quality is subjective. Nevertheless, unless Mr. Smitherman enhances existing measurements which define minimal standards for achieving quality of life for elderly nursing home residents, our health care system will fall short of giving our elderly the life they expect and deserve after contributing to our society for so many years, says Ms. Harvey. Staffing ratios aside, for the sake of argument, substituting aging persons in long-term care with unwell or terminally ill children and our public and political approach publicly and politically would be drastically different. Why the compromise?

At the moment, long-term care facilities are mostly rewarded for managing risks rather than encouraging life, she says. For example, 20 years ago nursing homes were allowed to take residents outside and have a bonfire. Now this is considered to be far too risky. But, isn't that quality of life? asks Ms. Harvey. Taking reasonable risks maybe a personal definer of quality of life. Reprimanding the staff or the home operator if a person fell becomes a deterrent to allow expression of quality of life. Having honest talks with family about end of life quality and not just advanced directives will go a long way to help staff and operators understand the personal expression and wishes surrounding quality of life. These types of acts will go a long way to improve quality of life.

About Jayne Harvey and FCS International

Jane Harvey, RN, has 21 years of experience working with seniors and is the CEO of FCS international. She works with long-term care facilities across the country. FCS International is committed to fulfilling a major international role in providing best practices in care and organizational dynamics to long term & community health care, with excellence in care as our standard. Through the vision of Jayne Harvey, RN , FCS International is the leading long term & community health care consulting and training group in Canada. It was founded in the early 1980's. The company continues to provide high-standard services and solution-based leadership through the skills of its presenters, consultants and online training though the FCSOnline training division. As practices and issues continue to change in long-term and community health care, FCS develops and delivers highly focused, outcome-based products and services that provide leadership to the sector.

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