Center for Aging and Community heads collaborative project to improve long-term care

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The Center for Aging and the Community received a $600,000 grant from the Indiana State Department of Health to begin a two-year collaborative project with agencies from all over Indiana to improve long-term health care.

The Regional Healthcare Quality Improvement Collaborative Project focuses on long-term solutions for long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.

“The State Department of Health is very concerned about [the] quality of care for people who reside in nursing homes,” said CAC Executive Director Ellen Miller. “And so what they’re offering to various regions is the opportunity to get some funding as well as get some assistance to set up regional groups.”

The collaborative will allow different community agencies that have an interest in long-term care to apply for funds to start finding solutions to problems such as infection prevention and Alzheimer’s care. According to Miller, the hope for the project is that these initiatives become long-term programs.

“We’re saying to the regions [that]we’ll help you, we’ll provide you with the resources to come together and support a group in your own region,” she said. “[It’s a] more grassroots-style focus on coming together and working a particular issue that is important to them.”

The project began on Sept. 1, and the first step, according to Miller, is to get proposals from regional agencies. These agencies must have 20 nursing homes that are involved in the region and be willing to serve as the lead agency. Some of these projects will be educational programs for the different regions.

These projects will be led by CAC Project Coordinator Lidia Dubicki. She will travel around Indiana making sure that different information sessions are running smoothly.

“It’s really exciting because, for me, I get to go to different parts of Indiana …  just getting to go out and meet people that are involved in the long-term care facilities,” Dubicki said. “I like the idea that its [the long-term health care field] going to be changing. I actually get to learn a little bit about each one of the topics.”

Some of these educational programs will be advanced enough for participants  to gain certification in their field.

Miller said that most of her students in CAC are graduate students, and she invites them to assist with the project.

“The students get involved from jumping into some aspect of the project that we are working on,” she said. “So if we’re delivering some training, the students might be involved in helping develop and/or developing that training, or perhaps evaluate the effectiveness of the training those sorts of things. This project is as much about project management and how to develop good collaborative working groups as it is the nursing home environment.”

According to Miller, the center will be creating measurement tools to help assess whether the regional agencies are being effective in their communities. Miller said the hope is for the projects to go beyond the two years set out by the collaborative.

“In the big picture of the project, what we really hope to do with faculty, staff, students and the State Department of Health is to achieve that goal of helping these regions develop an infrastructure that they can work on,” Miller said. “We really don’t intend for these regions to just get together for the two years of this project. But we’d like the regions to be able to become a cohesive sustainable group, so they’ll keep getting together and they will find it beneficial enough that they will want to keep on with these regional collaboratives.”

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