SAINT JOHN (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $2.65 million through its Home First Strategy in new technology for nursing homes that will gather data on everything from what residents like to eat and the medications they take, to their spiritual and cultural needs.

“It has been demonstrated both nationally and internationally that access and monitoring of this type of data increases the quality of care being provided to residents,” said Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers. “This tool will set a new tone for the sector that is strategic and evidence-based, which will help us to improve resident care within a sustainable system.”

The automated system known as the Resident Assessment Instrument – Minimum Dataset Tool (RAI-MDS) will be implemented in all New Brunswick nursing homes.

Everyone associated with the nursing home setting can benefit from using the RAI-MDS tool:

  • For residents, it provides an accurate, comprehensive and holistic interdisciplinary assessment of their abilities while highlighting potential concerns and complex care needs.
  • For care providers, it reduces duplication of effort, strengthens team communication, and provides a common language for care providers.
  • For administrators, it provides the data required to make informed choices.
  • For the department, it provides information that can be used to better target funding to current and future needs of seniors, such as supporting nursing homes in developing specialized care for complex cases which can help move seniors out of hospitals faster.

RAI-MDS compiles extensive information on each resident, such as how many residents have medical issues like diabetes or arthritis, or how many falls take place within a nursing home. With this type of information, nursing home staff can create resident-centred care plans and compare data with provincial, national and international statistics. The system also keeps track of spiritual, cultural, and dietary needs of residents.

“For example, if a nursing home has a high number of residents with diabetes, then staff can develop programs for diabetes management,” said Rogers. “Or, nursing home staff can compare data to see if they have a higher-than-average fall rate, and if so, take action by doing fall prevention workshops and then track the data to evaluate the effect of the program.”

The new system will also involve input from the family.

“If a resident is non-verbal due to an impairment, information from family members on their likes and dislikes can be entered into the system so all staff will know from the individualized care plan not to feed a resident something they do not like, for example,” said Rogers.

The program will be rolled out across the province in partnership with the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes. The association will lead the project in collaboration with the department.

“The implementation of the MDS tool represents a more sophisticated approach to meeting resident-specific needs,” said Michael Keating, executive director of the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes. “We strongly support this announcement and look forward to using this tool to provide the best care possible to our residents.”

The initiative is a key plank in the Home First Strategy, which is based on healthy aging; appropriate support and care; and a responsive, integrated and sustainable long-term care system.