Friday, 12 June 2015

How does your nursing home or hospital compare?

Do you ever wonder how your local hospital or nursing home, compares to others in your province or even in Canada? When people complain about our health care system, whether it's a hospital or other institution, do you wonder if their experience is the norm or a unique incident? There is some interesting news this week which will shed some light on this. The Canadian Institute for Health Information  has launched an online tool allowing people to type in a nursing home name or hospital and see how it compares in terms of safety and the quality of care to others (currently, not all provinces have nursing homes listed). Until now, the only thing one could review was inspection reports done by the province.

This is new transparency as the data was never something the public had such easy access to. If anything, it may make these institutions feel a bit more accountable to the general public and be aware of how their actions or inactions can directly impact patient satisfaction and choice. That being said, there are more situations than one would realize, where choice or significant choice, is not an option. Often people end up in a hospital because that is where an ambulance takes you or where your doctor has privileges. And, one may get to choose a list of nursing homes however, that may be limited by where your family lives or other factors. As well, if you are waiting in a hospital for a bed, you may have to accept a place that is not your first, second or even third choice.

However, while there are clearly limits to how this tool can help, at the outset I can see only positives, from the perspective of families and patients. This will clearly give people more information to work with. The more information you have, the better questions you can ask and the more prepared people will be if they do need a specific sort of care. That being said, there are limits to what an online tool can do and there may be variations and exceptions based on the population in a certain setting. Web tools should never replace a personal visit and tour and an opportunity to ask relevant questions and observe an environment and other residents. The tool is new and no doubt, will expand over time but should only be viewed as a piece of a puzzle; a tool to help in your research. Especially in terms of nursing home care, research is so very necessary and important to ensure good care for those who may be too frail to choose or advocate for themselves.

To find how your hospital or nursing home rates visit: http://yourhealthsystem.cihi.ca/hsp/indepth?lang=en#/

To view inspection reports of Ontario nursing homes visit: http://publicreporting.ltchomes.net/en-ca/default.aspx

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