Commend New Training Programs for Nursing Home Staff to Better Care for Patients

Target: Marilyn B. Tavenner, Acting Administrator of Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Goal: Encourage new models of care provided for nursing home staff in order to identify and respond to changes in patient health

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. However, few nursing homes are considering the risks of hospitalizing a frail older person struggling with a debilitating illness. Often, the patient’s wishes on what treatment they prefer to receive isn’t communicated properly or not included in their medical records. This can lead to more aggressive care which may include hospitalization, a process that can further deteriorate the health of the patient. To address these issues, a pilot program, sponsored by Medicare and Medicaid Services, is being implemented in seven U.S. states. Commend Medicare and Medicaid Services for implementing new models of care by providing nursing home staff with trained practitioners to learn how to better recognize and respond to changes in a patient’s health.

The seven states that are participating in the program include Alabama, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania. Each state is adopting their own model but still adhering to the same goal. For example, HealthInsight of Nevada is working with 25 nursing homes to construct a green, yellow, red system. Nursing home staff will be taught the significance of each color, signaling the condition of the patient and which protocol to follow upon changes in patient health.

Communication is emphasized, ensuring that medical providers have the correct patient information when transferring a patient to and from hospitals. Other facilities are focusing on integrating symptom-relieving palliative care into nursing homes and working with the resident’s families when deciding which type of care will be provided and under what conditions.

Devastating consequences could arise if proper care of patients isn’t carefully considered or taught. Roxanne Tena-Nelson, executive vice president at the Greater New York Hospital Foundation, states that caregivers need realistic expectations when caring for patients and an understanding of what hospitalization means to a person living in a nursing home. Support the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in their efforts to implement training methods to nursing home staff and aides when caring for elder patients.


Dear Mrs. Tavenner

I support the new program of training for staff of elderly patient long-term care. Often, patients who are suffering from a chronic or even acute illness can unnecessarily end up in the hospital, which can lead to further deterioration of their health.

By implementing this new program, staff and caregivers will be able to receive the proper training from physicians or nurse practitioners. This will allow them to properly assess the patient’s condition and respond accordingly. I think this pilot program is essential in preventing unnecessary hospitalization of elderly patients that can be avoided with proper training and communication of patient medical history. Therefore, I support your efforts and encourage the success of this program and hope it will be implemented by all states.


[Your Name Here]

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