New research study on POLST use in California Nursing Homes

A recent study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine investigating Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) use in California Nursing Homes. POLST was implemented in California in 2009, and the study authors aimed to evaluate how well it disseminated across California’s large, racially diverse population, in addition to its effectiveness in improving end-of-life care. It can be hard for families to decide whether their loved one needs extra care and it can be difficult to find appropriate end-of-life care in California.

Luckily, Lakeside Manor Assisted Living offers end-of-life care with enjoyment and happiness in the final years of your family members’ life. Unfortunately, in some cases of end-of-life care, the patient is not cared for properly. As hard as thinking about end-of-life care can be, no-one wants to see their lives cut short by abuse that may be taking place in their home. That’s why if you hear about any negligence that is happening to you or your loved one, then you need to make sure you report nursing home abuse as soon as possible to stop their suffering. In most cases of nursing home abuse, those who are experiencing the abuse have no way to get in touch with family members who might be able to help. For this reason, some families find that giving their loved one a way to get in touch with them can help. For example by looking for easy to use phones for seniors vulnerable seniors can know that their family members are just a call away if they are needed.

The study revealed that POLST Form completion increased from 33 to 49% of California nursing home residents during 2011. Long-stay residents were more likely than short-stay residents to have a completed POLST; severely cognitively impaired residents were less likely than unimpaired to have a completed POLST; and there was little difference by functional status. There was no difference in POLST completion among White non-Hispanic, Black, and Hispanic residents. Variation in POLST completion among nursing homes was far greater that variation that could be attributed to demographic characteristics of the residents: Forty percent (40%) of facilities were found to have greater than 80% of long-stay residents with a completed POLST, while 20% of facilities had 10 % of long-stay residents with a completed POLST.

Ultimately, it would seem that nursing homes throughout California are well run and feature a wide range of state of the art equipment and facilities to ensure that senior citizens are appropriately cared for. Some bedrooms in the nursing homes surveyed even fitted their beds with the best luxury soft mattress available to ensure that residents were able to sleep comfortably. Naturally, we all need more sleep as we age and therefore it is important that the beds provided in nursing homes are of the finest quality.

Overall, this study showed a widespread implementation of POLST throughout California nursing homes without racial disparity. However, variation in POLST completion among nursing homes identifies potential areas for quality improvement.

» View the article online: LA Jennings, D Zingmond, R Louie, CH Tseng, J Thomas, K O’Malley, NS Wenger, Journal of General Internal Medicine, pp 1-8. 2016 May 17. [Epub ahead of print]

» Read the press release from the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California