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Iowa 13th Best on Long-Term Care, but Concerns Emerge

PHOTO: A new national ranking puts Iowa among the best for long-term care, although the analysis shows some key areas of concern where the state is at or near the bottom. Photo credit: Sima Dimitric / Flickr.
PHOTO: A new national ranking puts Iowa among the best for long-term care, although the analysis shows some key areas of concern where the state is at or near the bottom. Photo credit: Sima Dimitric / Flickr.
June 19, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa - As the nation's population continues to age, long-term care is an issue that's growing in importance, and a new national report finds that Iowa is among the best.

According to Anthony Carroll, director of advocacy for the AARP in Iowa, the Hawkeye State ranks 13th in the nation for overall long-term services and support.

"We're pleased to be 13th. That's a good thing, but as a state we really need to be looking at the categories especially where we can and need to improve, and always looking to do better," says Carroll.

The 2014 long-term care scorecard comes from the AARP, along with the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation.

The report takes a close look at 26 indicators over five dimensions, or categories. While Iowa's best showing came in quality of care and quality of life, Iowa's worst performance was in the area of effective transitions. Carroll says that includes the state's last-place ranking in the percentage of people who successfully transition back into the community after a nursing home stay of 90 days or longer.

"We understand nursing homes and we're grateful they exist and that people need to go to them, but we have survey after survey that shows people want to go back to their own homes after they receive care and recover," says Carroll. "Unfortunately, we have people who are - for lack of a better term - getting stuck in nursing homes at a rate higher than any other state in the country."

Other areas where Carroll says Iowa needs improvement are with the number of available home health and personal care aides, and with geater support for family caregivers as more people across the state are put into that role.

"We're talking about the people who help with rehabilitation in the home," says Carroll, "or make sure their loved one who is needing follow-up care in their home is getting the right medications. How do we build support for these individuals so important in the critical part of long-term care, the so-called 'family caregivers' or 'unpaid caregivers?'"

Carroll says support for family caregivers is among the issues related to improving long-term care that will be before state lawmakers next session.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA