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N.C. nursing homes, including Albemarle’s, succeed in finding alternatives to restraints

CARY ó Ten N.C. nursing homes, including one in Albemarle, achieved significant success in finding alternatives to restraints after completing a special, six-month initiative to reduce their use of restraints on residents.
The Release Restraint Reduction Project by the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence helped facilities lower their use of restraints by an average of 54 percent at the end of the second quarter of 2008.
Stephanie Herrin-Huneycutt, administrator of Stanly Manor in Albemarle, said her facility was devoted to participating in the restraint initiative because of the significant benefits to its residents’ well being.
Stanly Manor is restraint-free now after participating in the project.
The project, endorsed by the Division of Health Services Regulation and N.C. Healthcare Facilities Association, began in March and focused on nursing homes that had the greatest opportunity for improvement in restraint reduction.
The Center for Medical Excellence is a non-regulatory organization dedicated to supporting providers in improving quality of care. The company provided free, individualized consultations to the leadership teams at each nursing facility after identifying issues and creating processes that were critical to success in lowering restraint use.
The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence “is very proud of the fact that we have helped these facilities reduce their restraint rates, and we attribute their success to teamwork and their understanding of how alternatives to restraints can work to keep residents safe,” Maria Fisher, a care improvement specialist at the center, said in a press release. “Reducing restraint use helps residents to become more independent, which in turn, gives them more fulfilling lives.”
Fisher said the level of commitment by these facilities was impressive. “All these nursing homes … were committed to this project,” she said. “They dedicated their time, effort and resources because they believe in it.”
To eliminate use of restraints, Stanly Manor in Albemarle implemented an ongoing interdisciplinary process designed to screen residents at admission, Herrin-Huneycutt said. The Stanly staff now reviews every resident’s care plan schedule for any evidence of potential decline that staff members can address by modifying a resident’s environment with safety features that do not involve restraints.
“Although residents may be at a risk for falls without restraints, (the Center for Medical Excellence) made us see that the ultimate goal is to create an environment that will enhance the lives of our residents by restraint reduction and safety modifications,” Herrin-Huneycutt said. “What I learned from this participation is that all facilities have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to restraints, and the more interdisciplinary participation you implement in your facility, the more successful you will become.
” ‘Restraint free’ is a philosophy that your core team has to believe and support in order for your facility to be effective with direct care staff, family members and physicians.”
The project’s success is greatly enhanced by collaborative efforts among state leaders in quality long-term care.
The Center for Medical Excellence is working with the N.C. Health Care Facilities Association and numerous nursing homes that have joined the national Advancing Excellence Campaign.

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