Revisting the Teaching Nursing Home Initiative

Jewish Healthcare Foundation
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When the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) saw the devastating impacts of the pandemic on long-term care, they recognized it wasn't just the coronavirus that was adversely affecting nursing homes. The decades of lack of support to fundamental, structural issues like funding, staffing, and training were also significant contributing factors.

To help address these concerns, JHF recently partnered with several nursing homes across the state, including three LeadingAge PA members: Canterbury Place - UPMC Senior Communities, Inc., The Willows - Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, and Wesley Enhanced Living (WEL) Main Line, as part of the Revisiting the Teaching Nursing Home Initiative. Based on a model of care created in the 1980s, it brings together students, academics, and health care workers with the expectation of increasing positive outcomes for residents.

By integrating lessons learned from the original Teaching Nursing Home program with the Age-Friendly Health Systems 4Ms model--a framework of care centered around four core components known as the 4Ms: What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility, "we hope that the 4Ms system will enhance the ease of work for nursing home workers," said Nancy Zionts, chief operating officer and chief program officer of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the principle investigator of the Initiative. 

While the pilot aims to "build in an education and training model that accounts for turnover," according to Zionts, she acknowledged that "over the course of the program we want to see the changes in attitudes, knowledge, and skills of the workforce." To do this, JHF is collaborating directly with participating nursing home facilities throughout the commonwealth to better equip staff with real-time skills and access to tools and methodology, while providing students with an opportunity to learn firsthand.

Health Careers Futures, an operating arm of JHF, received almost $1 million in grants from The John A. Hartford Foundation, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, and JHF in order to launch the new Revisiting the Teaching Nursing Home Initiative. The program's academic partners--the nursing schools at Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh--jointly selected the nursing homes for the pilot.

"This program is an opportunity for innovation while allowing residents to feel like there is a deeper engagement in their care," said Mike DeStefon, executive director for WEL Main Line. He hopes the project will help to address workforce challenges, including staffing, and help to highlight the opportunities in nursing homes for clinicians and nurses to develop and grow their skills.

The pilot, which began July 1, will run through 2023 in the central, eastern, and western regions of Pennsylvania.

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