Nicholas G. Castle, Ph.D.
Research demonstrates that nursing home staffing characteristics—such as turnover rates, the use of agency personnel, and staffing levels—are central to the quality of care provided to residents. Nevertheless, nursing home managers have difficulty predicting how changes in staffing would likely influence quality within their facility. A Web-based tool was designed to help managers determine the improvement in quality that would result from incremental changes in staffing.
The tool, which was designed to demonstrate the impact of staffing changes on specific quality indicators, such as the incidence of pressure sores and the percentage of patients suffering urinary tract infections or reporting pain, was used by more than 2,000 nursing home managers in its first six months. Of those users, 450 provided data on staffing levels before and after they used the tool. The authors found that as a group, these 450 facilities improved scores on five of 11 quality-of-care measures by more than 1 percent each. The tool also proved to be useful as a forum for users to share their staffing problems and solutions with others. Of users surveyed, 87 percent said they expected to use the tool frequently.
Users found the online resource to be helpful in forecasting the results of staffing changes. It may prove equally useful in improving measures of patient satisfaction, resident safety, and incident reporting. The tool is available at www.crhc.pitt.edu/StaffAssist.