Guest post by Zachary Zlotoff who is with Senior Home Blog 

According to a new study, nursing homes that have gone through the process of accreditation report a stronger safety culture than non-accredited facilities. The study was published in the May 2012 issue of the “Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety,” which is published monthly by Joint Commission Resources.

Findings Are Significant

The study has found that Joint Commission accreditation at more that 4,000 facilities across the United States has a positive influence on administrative level functions such as hiring, staff training and teamwork, openness in communication, and reserving punishment on smaller mistakes. These positive influences lead to a stronger culture of safety and care. Few studies have looked at the impact of Joint Commission accreditation in senior living facilities, so the findings that accreditation leads to positive changes that affects the care of residents is significant. Laura M. Wagner, Ph.D., R.N., and assistant professor at the New York University College of Nursing at the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, was the lead author of the study. She notes that the managers who were surveyed such as nursing home administrators and nursing directors can wield a great amount of influence over an organization’s culture, and the research is “both timely and of great importance.”

Benefits Outweigh the Costs

Even though accreditation can be a costly process for many facilities, studies such as Wagner’s show that the benefits are much better for those facilities in the long run. With staff profiting from better training, teamwork, and communication, the resulting culture of safety is reflected in better care given to residents. According to Wagner, “[i]t has been suggested that the process of sustaining the level of standards compliance required for accreditation can create a safety-oriented culture within a facility, and our results appear to support this contention.”  “Although there are costs associated with accreditation, these findings suggest that the benefits of voluntary accreditation may ultimately outweigh the extra costs,” she adds. An earlier one of Wagner’s studies also demonstrated the benefits of Joint Commission accreditation for long term care facilities and their residents. Appearing in the March 5 issue of the journal “The Gerontologist” in an article titled “Impact of Voluntary Accreditation on Deficiency Citations in U.S. Nursing Homes,” showed that Joint Commission accredited facilities had fewer deficiency citations than nonaccredited facilities. Additionally, Wagner and her co-authors have a forthcoming study to be published in the journal “Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice.” This latest study will show that long term care facilities with Joint Commission accreditation have better resident outcomes that continue to improve over time. Perhaps with this and continued evidence of the positive influences of accreditation on senior living facilities, more will take part in the accreditation process.

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Finally: If you know anyone who is looking at emergency call systems I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with them about Vigil Health Solutions.