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Baltimore - Nurse-Led Team Receives Grant to Help Assisted Living Residents

A team of researchers at the University of Maryland recently received a $100,000 grant from the Leonard & Helen Stulman Charitable Foundation to further disseminate a project intended to change how care is provided to residents in assisted living.

The Function-Focused Care for Assisted Living project involves Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, professor of nursing at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Sheryl Zimmerman, PhD, professor of social work and director of aging research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work, and an interdisciplinary team of researchers. The grant allows the team to test a protocol that uses a train-the-trainer model to facilitate adoption of function-focused care in 20 residential living facilities in the Baltimore area.

Function-focused care helps residents to do as much as possible for themselves, with assistance or coaching as needed.  Activities can be as simple as putting on a shirt or feeding oneself.  It also helps people engage in as much physical activity as possible. 

The initial study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative. The team tested a protocol in four residential living facilities that used a function-focused care nurse who helped staff at residential living facilities learn to implement function-focused care. The nurse helped to assess the environment and policies and procedures that affect function-focused care, helped staff develop goals for function-focused care, and educated, mentored and motivated staff.  Initial results of the 12-month study are promising.

"There's no question that the goals of function-focused care­ - encouraging seniors to function as independently as possible and to get regular exercise -­ are important and beneficial to their health and well-being," said Resnick. "Ensuring that assisted living staff are fully trained in providing this type of care and that they provide it consistently is where the rubber meets the road. We hope that our study will provide guidance about the best ways to implement and ensure function-focused care."

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