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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 26, 2007

UI joins national effort to improve quality of nursing home care

The Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence (HCGNE) in the University of Iowa College of Nursing and its fellow Hartford Centers nationwide have been awarded a one-year, $500,000 planning grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies to develop a HCGNE Nursing Home Collaborative.

The collaborative is a project of the nation's five Hartford Centers to improve the quality of care provided in nursing homes to very frail elders with complex and unstable health care needs. The National Health Law and Policy Resource Center in the UI College of Law also is participating in the project.

Since the early 1950s, the nursing home industry in the United States has grown to serve millions of people in tens of thousands of facilities. Initially conceptualized as providing long-term care, nursing homes have evolved over the past 20 years to include multiple levels of care for residents. This change, along with complex funding and regulatory structures, has created challenges for those who care for residents in nursing homes. The HCGNE Nursing Home Collaborative was formed in 2006 to address these challenges.

"This planning grant lays the groundwork for a future five-year program to improve care for frail elders by using a research-based professional nursing practice model that can be widely implemented and translated to a national standard," said Kathleen Buckwalter, Ph.D., (left) the Sally Mathis Hartwig Professor of Gerontological Nursing Excellence and director of the Hartford Center at the UI College of Nursing.

The planning year will be spent developing the collaborative infrastructure and partnerships, as well as creating a professional nursing practice model to be used for the five-year project in each of the five states with Hartford Centers.

"The five Hartford Centers and the Resource Center plan to build on existing relationships and establish strong national and state partnerships with nurses in nursing home settings, industry leaders and operators, regulators, consumers, advocates, policy makers, and centers that are sources of important expertise," Buckwalter said. "With these partnerships in place, we will study professional practices to determine which are most effective. At the end of the five-year project we will be able to make best practice recommendations to nursing homes across the U.S."

The collaborative has already identified three core principles that guide quality of care. Quality will be high when: care is provided by highly skilled nurses with enhanced geriatric nursing competencies and enhanced nursing leadership for changing practice; best practices for elders are embedded in facility care processes; and best practices are used with enhanced nurse staffing models.

"During the planning year we will expand and refine the core principles of the professional nursing practice model," Buckwalter said.

A major focus of the project is the examination of the legal and regulatory framework within which nursing homes operate. This aspect of the project is being conducted by the National Health Law and Policy Resource Center (NHLPR) in the UI College of Law, in collaboration with the Iowa Hartford Center. Josephine Gittler, the Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law, is director of the NHLPR and director of policy for the Hartford Center. The project will identify the laws and regulations needed to promote the professional nursing practice model, Gittler said.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Nursing, 101 Nursing Building, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

MEDIA CONTACT: Michele Francis, College of Nursing, 319-335-8960,