As people age and their health needs change, nursing homes become a source of care and support, especially for those who can no longer live independently.
Since 1999, the Quality Improvement Program for Missouri has been providing clinical practice consultations and technical assistance to nursing homes throughout the state. Curators’ Professor Emerita Marilyn Rantz is the project director for the program, which is a cooperative between the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
“Marilyn Rantz is a proven long-term care resource at a national level,” said Carol Siem, a clinical consultant with the program and regional nurse for the St. Louis area. Carol works with other nursing home experts to provide education on improving care delivery and outcomes for nursing home residents through webinars and presentations.
Under the leadership and guidance from Rantz, the program has provided a multitude of services throughout all 114 of Missouri’s counties. In 2017, the program conducted 858 site visits in 378 different facilities. That year alone, 990 residents avoided developing clinical issues and health care providers saw a cost savings of $3.7 million statewide.
“Quality improvement is cost effective for everyone involved,” Rantz said. “Focusing efforts to improve quality of care not only helps to improve that care and the positive outcomes for people, but it also saves the industry and facilities money.”
When nursing home facilities request assistance, Rantz’s team of nursing consultants and clinical educators are able to facilitate customized support, whether the facility has three beds or 300. The program is the only one if its kind in the country, and each consultant routinely checks in with their facilities through phone calls, emails and in-person visits.
“People live in nursing homes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the staff develop long-term relationships with them,” Rantz said. “The job is different than in a hospital, where patients might need care for a few hours or a few days. When dealing with long-term care, the job for those nurses is learning how to interpret the specific needs of each individual.”
The impact has not gone unnoticed to healthcare administrators. Rachel Eddleman is a nurse assessment coordinator at Corner Brook Place, a provider in Kansas City for those with dementia.
“The nurses we work with from the University of Missouri help us keep up with all the new regulations and procedures so we can better take care of our residents,” Eddleman said. “They have always been very supportive and very knowledgeable. Other states need programs like this, we are fortunate to have the University partner with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services for this expert help to nursing homes throughout the state.”