A unique practice model for Nurse Practitioners in long-term care homes
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AIM: This paper is a report of a study examining a practice model for Nurse Practitioners (NPs) working in long-term care (LTC) homes and its impact on staff confidence, preventing hospital admission, and promoting early hospital discharge. BACKGROUND: The recent introduction of NPs in LTC homes in Ontario, Canada, provided an opportunity to explore unique practice models. In a pilot project, two full-time equivalent NPs provided primary care to a consortium of 22 homes serving approximately 2900 residents. The practice model was based on the specific needs of the homes and residents. METHODS: The NPs working in this project prospectively collected data (from July 2003 until June 2004) on their clinical activities and resident outcomes. Directors of Care (n = 18) of the participating homes completed a questionnaire (March 2004) assessing the impact on prevention of hospitalization and staff confidence. FINDINGS: The NPs had 2315 clinical contacts in the 1-year period; the majority (64%) were follow-up contacts. Many contacts were for uncomplicated medical problems or more complex but straightforward medical issues, and had positive outcomes. Hospital admission was prevented in 39-43% of cases. NPs had a positive impact on improving staff confidence, but no impact on facilitating early discharge from hospital. CONCLUSION: Practice models designed to meet the distinctive needs of LTC homes and residents can enhance quality of care, even with low NP:resident ratios. Participation of key stakeholders in the identification of care priorities and planning contributed to the success of this model.
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