Long-Term Care Project

The Maryland Long-Term Care Project is an ongoing program of research being conducted in more than 60 Maryland nursing homes by investigators from the University of Maryland and The Johns Hopkins University, to understand and further the quality of life of persons residing in long-term care facilities. Cooperation with another project, the Collaborative Studies of Long-Term Care, has expanded this work into other states and residential care settings.

Initiated in 1984, studies conducted under the auspices of the Maryland Long-Term Care Project have enrolled multiple thousands of residents, and have examined the prevalence of nursing home-acquired infections; the incidence of antibiotic use; the beliefs underlying caregivers' decision to institutionalize a family member; the prevalence of dementia; the relationship of dementia to health; the provision of special care to residents with dementia; the relationship between the structure and process of care to health outcomes for all residents; the prevalence of osteoporosis and its relationship to subsequent fractures; and the educational/ training needs of nursing home personnel. These projects have been funded though grants from the National Institute on Aging, Merck Research Laboratories, The University of Maryland Geriatrics and Gerontology Education and Research Program, and the Straus Foundation.

Initiated in 1996, the Collaborative Studies of Long-Term Care are multi-state studies of the broad field of residential care, and the only studies of their type to enroll and prospectively evaluate a large cohort of residents. Approximately 3,000 persons residing in assisted living and other types of board and care homes from 250 facilities across four states have provided information on policies and practices of residential care; special dementia care; case-mix across medical and functional domains (e.g., physical and instrumental activities of daily living, cognitive, affective, behavioral and social function); performance on standardized lower and upper extremity tests of strength and balance; medical events and functional change over time; aging-in-place; end of life care; and minority issues in residential care. These projects have been funded though grants from the National Institute on Aging and The National Institute for Nursing Research.

Both the Maryland Long-Term Care Project and the Collaborative Studies of Long-Term Care represent established population cohorts available for study. Databases are available that represent both cross-sectional and admissions cohorts, followed longitudinally for as long as two years. Standardized assessments, most notably the Minimum Dataset, have been collected for all residents. More so, the staff and residents of the participating facilities have pledged their allegiance to the ongoing inquiry into quality of life; opportunities to institute new protocols and collect new data are welcomed.