Nursing Homes Affiliated with Nursing Schools Improve Care

Evaluating RWJF's Teaching Nursing Home Program

Evaluators at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center conducted a formal evaluation and a follow-up study of the 1982–1987 Teaching Nursing Home Program (TNHP).

TNHP sought to demonstrate that nursing home affiliations with nursing schools would result in improved patient care and reduced health care costs. Grants were made to 11 university nursing schools, each of which had affiliations with at least one nursing home.

The evaluation compared 11 of these affiliated nursing homes with six matched homes with no nursing school affiliations, gathering data from over 3,300 nursing home patients' records for the years 1981–1988.

Key Findings:

  • The evaluation found that TNHP achieved improved clinical outcomes in patient care in nursing homes through affiliations with university schools of nursing.
  • Among specific findings was a 7 percent decrease in hospitalizations of patients within three months of admission at teaching nursing homes (TNHs), resulting in reduced per-patient cost of care.
  • There were two apparent mechanisms for reduced hospitalizations:
    • Programs that focused on enhancing or stabilizing activities of daily living or functional independence.
    • The involvement of nurse clinicians and nurse's aides in care planning.

A follow-up survey was undertaken in 1995, seven years after the close of the national program.

  • This survey of nursing school and nursing home staff found that TNHP affiliation appeared to produce enduring improvements in patient care, and spurred professional growth of both faculty and nursing home staff.

Results of the formal evaluation appeared in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and Health Care Financing Review, among other publications.

Findings from the follow-up survey were published in Nursing Outlook.