When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast states in August, frail elderly adults, especially those living in long-term care facilities, suffered disproportionately. Mississippi Methodist Senior Services, which owns and operates the Green Houses in Tupelo, Miss., promptly acted on warnings of the impending storm and evacuated over 400 residents from their campuses in Biloxi, Hattiesburg, and Meridian to their more northern facilities. Because of the Fund's involvement with the Green Houses, a grant was made to assist Mississippi Methodist in caring for relocated residents in the storm's aftermath.
A number of other activities over the past year have cultivated a network of policymakers, health care providers, and researchers interested in nursing home quality improvement. At the "Pragmatic Innovations" meeting, jointly sponsored by the Fund and the National Institute on Aging, Philip Sloane, M.D., of the University of North Carolina disseminated an annotated bibliography on resident-centered care, including research on living space, regulations, organizational structures, and the business case for culture change. Meeting participants then drafted a report, to be submitted for publication, identifying gaps in the knowledge base and proposing a further research agenda.
This year also marked the second in a series of Fund-sponsored long-term care colloquia, "Building Bridges: Making a Difference in Long Term Care," held in conjunction with AcademyHealth's Annual Research Meeting. These colloquia provide unique opportunities for a diverse group of researchers, policy leaders, providers, consumer representatives, and funders to debate the issues, examine proposed solutions, review evidence, and identify additional research needs. This year's sessions covered affordable housing and long-term care services(1)
and consumer-directed care and its implications for state and federal policy,(2)
among other topics. To follow up on the interest expressed by policymakers attending the colloquium, a day-long session on consumer-directed long-term care will be held in conjunction with AcademyHealth's February 2006 Policy Meeting in Washington, D.C. Several researchers who attended the colloquium are preparing to study still unexplored areas relating to the Green House nursing home model, which was discussed by the housing-with-services panel.
Through this and other efforts, the Program on Quality of Care for Frail Elders is acting to help transform the nation's long-term care facilities into good places to live and work—high-performance organizations delivering resident-centered services.