Science & Research

Personal care

Identifying the needs of nursing home residents

BY LIZ KATYNSKI
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012

There are close to 10,000 Manitobans living in personal care homes today, and experts predict the province will have to find spaces for about 6,000 more within 30 years.

But exactly what kinds of health care will all these residents need going forward?

Dr. Malcolm Doupe is attempting to answer that question. He is working on the first comprehensive review of the needs of nursing home residents, looking at both the numbers and the needs of residents in order to understand how to plan for the future.

Since the 1970s, the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) has been receiving administrative data on people going into personal care homes, including names, ages, and medical conditions, from Manitoba Health for research purposes. They have also acquired clinical data on the health-care needs of residents from the Winnipeg Health Region, dating back to 2005.

Doupe, an associate professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine, and a senior research scientist at MCHP, is linking the two sets of data in order to gain insights into how Manitoba's aging population can be better served.

The research has the potential to influence policy, says Doupe. "Linking the data systems provides us with a rich research environment. Never before have we had such a clear picture of the range of needs of those going into nursing homes," says Doupe. "Policy makers can look to it when they decide to adjust their policies and criteria."

Knowing the specific needs of people going into nursing homes can help determine better strategies for accepting people into nursing homes, and once they get in, the right staffing levels, number and types of beds, and other supports that will be needed in order to plan to meet the needs of an aging population. It will also help to determine if nursing homes are the right environment for some people, or if other, less costly options should be put in place.

As well, Doupe is looking at nursing home facilities and measuring the quality of care on an ongoing basis, and he is studying nursing home residents' use of other services, including Emergency rooms.

So far, Doupe has found that about seven to eight per cent of people admitted into nursing homes may be eligible for some community-based options, such as supportive housing. Nursing home residents themselves have a huge range of needs, highlighting complexities of providing high-quality care for these people.

Wave: November / December 2012

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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