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Posted 06.23.05

MU Researchers Create Convenient Tool for Measuring Quality of Nursing Home Care

COLUMBIA, MO -- The nursing home population is expected to triple in the next few decades, and this significant growth in the nation's senior-citizen population will require more people to make important decisions regarding the health, safety and lifestyles of aging family members. To help with this task, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have just finished extensive testing and development of an instrument that provides a quick, accurate evaluation of the quality of care in nursing homes.

The new Observable Indicators of Nursing Home Care Quality Instrument (OIQ) is the result of a three-year study funded by the National Institute for Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Heath and recently completed by Marilyn Rantz, MU professor of nursing, and a team of researchers. The OIQ contains 30 questions that refer directly to an observable aspect of any nursing home. The questions consider everything from care delivery and grooming to odor and interpersonal communication. The tool is designed to indicate the quality of care during a 30-minute inspection of a nursing home.

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"We have an instrument that will provide researchers, surveyors and nursing home consumers with a fast, accurate and reliable way to measure the quality of nursing home care," Rantz said. "Quality is fragile, staff turnover and other problems can make a place a different facility within weeks. This instrument is something that consumers can use on a daily basis."

Each item has a score ranging from one to five that will fall into a below average, average or above average category. The scores allow for the comparison of quality among multiple nursing homes. Rantz said that the questionnaire's measure of quality correlates to the measure of quality obtained through state survey findings for the facilities in the study. The researchers tested the instrument in 407 long-term care facilities in Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Excerpts of the OIQ and more information are available at -- a Web site maintained by the researchers to help consumers, providers and other researchers. A consumer version of the OIQ and a guide for selecting a nursing home for a loved one, The New Nursing Homes: A 20-Minute Way to Find Great Long Term Care, is available from Fairview Press at 1-800-544-8207 or and on-line book stores.

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