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J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2009 Nov;10(9):597-606. doi: 10.1016/j.jamda.2009.08.012. Epub 2009 Oct 12.

The basis for improving and reforming long-term care. Part 3: essential elements for quality care.

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  • 1Multifacility medical director, Baltimore, MD, USA.


There is a pervasive effort to reform nursing homes and improve the care they provide. Many people are trying to educate and inform nursing homes and their staff, practitioners, and management about what to do and not do, and how to do it. But only some of that advice is sound. After more than 3 decades of such efforts, and despite evidence of improvement in many facets of care, there are still many issues. Despite improvements, the overall public, political, and health professional perception of nursing homes is often still negative. To date, no tactic or approach has succeeded nationwide in consistently facilitating good performance or correcting poor performance. Only some of the current efforts to try to improve nursing home quality and to measure it are on target. Many of the measures used to assess the quality of performance have limited value in guiding overall quality improvement. Before we can reform nursing homes, we must understand what needs to be reformed. This series of articles has focused on what is needed for safe, effective, efficient, and person-centered care. Ultimately, all efforts to improve nursing home care quality must be matched against the critical elements needed to provide desirable care. Based on the discussions in the previous 2 articles, this third article in this 4-part series considers 5 key elements of care processes and practices that can help attain multiple desirable quality objectives.

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