Research Finds Few Nursing Homes Participate in End-of-Life Programs

Washington - Although 25 percent of all deaths in America occur in nursing homes, fewer than 20 percent of homes participate in end-of-life care (EoL) programs, according to a new research report from the Institute for the Future of Aging Services (IFAS), the research division of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

The IFAS report is an analysis of data from the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey, which includes data representing America's 16,000 nursing homes. It offers the most current and comprehensive picture of end-of-life care program participation in U.S. nursing homes.

Researchers found that nursing homes were more likely to participate in end-of-life programs if they specialty programs for hospice, pain management or dementia care. There is also a strong correlation between end-of-life program participation and staff training for services related to end of life care.

"When it comes to end-of-life care, providing appropriate staff training may be the key to expanding program participation," Helaine Resnick, Ph.D., director of research at IFAS said. "Providers must consider the professional value EoL training and participation offers staff and more important, its personal value to the people they serve."

The research was published in the online version of the American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine.