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Models for providing improved care in residential care homes: a thematic literature review

by Ala Szczepura, Diane Clay, Julia Hyde, S. Nelson, Deidre Wild
()

Abstract

This Annotated Bibliography is one output from a review of the available research evidence to support improved care in residential care homes as the needs of older people intensify. Key findings The review identified extremely little published evidence on residential care homes; the research base is almost exclusively related to provision of care in nursing homes. Much of this research is from the US or other non-UK sources. Although it could be argued that some findings are generalisable to the UK residential care context, a systematic process is required to identify which. The literature often makes no distinction between nursing and residential homes; use of generic terms such as ‘care home’ should be avoided. There is considerable international debate in the quality improvement literature about the relationship between quality of care and quality of life in nursing and residential homes. Measures of social care, as well as clinical care, are needed. The centrality of the resident’s voice in measuring quality of life must be recognised. Ethnic minority residents are almost entirely absent from the quality improvement literature. Some clinical areas, internationally identified as key in terms of quality e.g. palliative care, are absent in the general nursing and residential home quality improvement literature. Others such as mental health (dementia and depression), diabetes, and nutrition are present but not fully integrated. Considerable evidence points to a need for better management of medication in nursing homes. Pharmacist medication reviews have shown a positive effect in nursing homes. It is unclear how this evidence might relate to residential care. There is evidence that medical cover for nursing and residential care home residents is suboptimal. Care could be restructured to give a greater scope for proactive and preventive interventions. General practitioners' workload in care homes may be considered against quality-of-care measures. There is US literature on the relationship between nurse staffing and nursing care home quality, with quality measured through clinical-based outcomes for residents and organisational outcomes. Conclusions are difficult to draw however due to inconsistencies in the evidencebase. Hospital admission and early discharge to nursing homes research may not be generalisable to residential care. The quality of inter-institutional transfers and ensuring patient safety across settings is important. To date research has not considered transfer from residential to nursing home care. The literature on district nurse and therapist roles in care homes includes very little research on residential care. Partnership working between district nurses and care home staff appears largely to occur by default at present. There is even less research evidence on therapist input to care homes. Set against the context outlined above, the international literature provides evidence of a number of approaches to care improvement, primarily in nursing homes. These include little discussion of cost-effectiveness other than in telecare. Research is needed in the UK on care improvement in residential homes.

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