Wednesday, May 25, 2011

INQRI Team Receives $100,000 Grant to Improve Function, Increase Physical Activity and Improve Independence of Assisted Living Residents in Maryland

A team of INQRI researchers at the University of Maryland has received a $100,000 grant from the Leonard & Helen Stulman Charitable Foundation to further disseminate a project intended to change how care is provided to residents in assisted living and improve function, physical activity and overall quality of life of the residents. The project, Function Focused Care for Assisted Living (FFC-AL), was originally led by an interdisciplinary team of researchers including a nursing professor at the University of Maryland and a social work professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The grant will allow the team to implement and test a protocol that uses a train the trainer model to facilitate adoption of function focused care in 20 residential living facilities in the Baltimore area.

Function focused care involves helping residents to do as much for themselves as possible, with assistance or coaching as needed. Activities can be as simple as putting on a shirt or feeding oneself. It also involves helping people engage in as much physical activity as possible.

Barbara Resnick, Ph.D., CR.N.P., F.A.A.N., F.A.A.N.P., professor of nursing at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and Sheryl Zimmerman, Ph.D., professor of social work and director of aging research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work led an INQRI team in testing a protocol in four residential living facilities that used a function focused care nurse (FFCN) who worked with staff at residential living facilities to help them learn to implement and regularly use function focused care in those facilities. The FFCN helped to assess the environment and policies and procedures that affect function focused care; provided education for staff; helped staff develop goals for function focused care and mentored and motivated staff. Initial results of the 12-month study are promising.

“There’s no question that the goals of function focused care—encouraging seniors to function as independently as possible and to get regular exercise—are important and beneficial to their health and well-being,” said Resnick. “Ensuring that assisted living staff are fully trained in providing this type of care and that they provide it consistently is where the rubber meets the road. We hope that our study will provide guidance about the best ways to implement and ensure function focused care.”

Resnick noted that support for the project comes in part through her appointment as the Sonya Ziporkin Gershowitz Endowed Chair in Gerontology at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. The chair enables a national expert in the field to conduct research and educate students in the growing nursing specialty of gerontology. Resnick is using some of the funding to cover a 50 percent project manager for the function focused care dissemination study.

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