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Doc Stoil's FedWeb Guide to Long-Term Care.

This is my personal guide to a baker's dozen of federal government Web sites related to long-term care. "Friendliness" refers to ease of extracting information from the Web site; "useful to caregivers" and "SNF-related content" assesses the value of the information. These site characteristics are rated from one star ("poor") to five stars ("excellent").

Adminstration on Aging (AoA) (www.aoa.dhhs.gov)

Friendliness ***

Home page lets users choose between material for caregivers, care recipients and others. Multiple links to other useful Web sites.

Useful to caregivers ***

Quickly identifies such resources as state and local agencies on aging, 1-800 information numbers on senior issues, and more.

SNF-related content *

Most content addresses needs of elderly Americans living alone or with family members rather than living in group settings.

In a nutshell

Generally helpful, but some of the content should be retired such as a 1997 announcement of the closing of a regional AoA office

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (www.ahrq.gov)

Friendliness ***

Attractive graphics, but disappointing search engine. The frequent use of the agency's old acronym (AHCPR) is confusing.

Useful to caregivers ****

"Clinical Practice Guidelines On Line" offer full guidelines, quick reference guides and consumer info in English and Spanish.

SNF-related content ****

Practice guidelines include Alzheimer's, post-stroke rehabilitation, management of cancer pain, and other conditions of interest to nursing homes and long-term care.

In a nutshell

Most of the site is an ad for the agency's value to healthcare and society. The practice guidelines are by far the most useful pages.

Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) (www.alzheimers.org)

Friendliness *****

Colorful graphics and easily under stood directions; offers 800 number to contact specialists for additional material.

Useful to caregivers ****

Research news, written in language appropriate for any college graduate, provides frequent updates on science and practice. Publications sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, including Connections magazine, are available for downloading.

SNF-related content ***

A slide-enhanced lecture entitled "The Growing Challenge of Alzheimer's Disease in Residential Settings," available for free downloading, is a good introduction for staff and community.

In a nutshell

An award-winning Web site that truly deserved its award.

Census Bureau (www.census.com)

Friendliness ***

Attractive but occasionally confusing layout. Use the alphabetical guide to topics on the home page to find desired information and look at each table that sounds as if it might be relevant.

Useful to caregivers *

Offers data on the underserved population in the community.

SNF-related content ****

Lots of information on potential residents, including location, ethnicity, income, living arrangements and disabilities.

In a nutshell

An essential resource for planning purposes...and for trivia addicts. Where else can you learn how many 83-year-old men live in Adams County, North Dakota, or how many mobility-limited people aged 65 years and older live with their spouses in Michigan?

Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (www.usda.gov/cnpp/)

Friendliness ***

Easy-to-read text and user-friendly navigation.

Useful to caregivers **

Offerings include downloads of such publications as Nutrition Insights, Family Economics and Nutrition Review, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The site also provides free download versions of videos on the Food Pyramid and related topics.

SNF-related content *

The research offered on the elderly tracks national dietary trends rather than ways to improve individual nutrition. Nutritionists might find public information materials, including the well-known Food Pyramid, to be useful in educating staff and residents.

In a nutshell

The material on dietary needs of older Americans is dry, hard to digest, and over-salted with statistics. Some content is phrased in a peculiarly patronizing tone, as in" [Older Americans] must continue to make more appropriate food choices and work harder to meet nutrient recommendations...."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov)

Friendliness ***

Pretty, but heavy on self-promotion. The Health Topics A-Z feature sometimes sends users to Web pages with little content.

Useful to caregivers ****

Helpful reference for specific communicable diseases.

SNF-related content ***

Surprisingly little information on care in residential settings, but good content on infectious diseases and cooperative agreement/grant opportunities.

In a nutshell

This is the site if one want to learn about lassa fever, gonorrhea, meningitis and other hard-to-spell diseases, but don't expect practical advice on care of chronic conditions other than HIV/AIDS.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (www.hud.gov)

Friendliness **

Jargon-laden subject headings and content, e.g., "Multifamily Accelerated Processing Guide." The search engine offers repetitive listings for such keywords as "nursing home" and "elderly."

Useful to caregivers *

Much of the content was posted five years ago and might be outdated. Some information in Service Coordinators Chronicle, a publication available from this site, is useful but very basic.

SNF-related content ****

Content assumes familiarity with such terms as "SuperNOFA" and "Section 232 mortgage guarantees."

In a nutshell

Helpful funding information can be found in this Museum of Old Web Pages. Do not venture among the relics without a native guide who speaks the local dialect fluently.

Health Care Financing Administration (www.hcfa.gov)

Friendliness ***

Site takes a long time to load. Organized by user category--e.g., content for "plans and providers," for students and for consumers.

Useful to caregivers **

Most of the content for "plans and providers" discusses reimbursement issues rather than care concerns.

SNF-related content ****

Regulatory material affecting nursing home operations.

In a nutshell

A vast site with lots of content, prepared by staff who speak in acronyms. Consider this warning: "[This chart is designed] to aid in the general understanding of how the proposed HH PPS uses select OASIS variables to determine the Home Health Resource Group." Oh, really?

Health Care Financing Administration (www.medicare.gov)

Friendliness **

Very glitzy but heavy on agency self-congratulation.

Useful to caregivers **

For answers to most questions, the site directs users to telephone local offices or to visit HCFA's other Web site.

SNF-related content *

Nothing here that an LTC administrator doesn't already know. Content reflects HCFA's perspective that nursing homes are necessary evils that should be avoided and heavily regulated.

In a nutshell

HCFA's Medicare-specific Web site reads like a cross between a Clinton campaign speech and a poorly written consumer pamphlet. It is far less useful than the Web site for AAHSA's grant-funded Center for Medicare Information (www.medicareed.org).

NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disease National Resource Center (www.osteo.org)

Friendliness *****

Attractive graphics, convenient search engine and subject listings.

Useful to caregivers ***

The frequently updated annotated bibliography helps keep clinicians up to date on research and practice findings on bone diseases that can cripple older Americans.

SNF-related content **

The research content has practical implications for LTC, but the site lacks "how to" information on prevention related exercise, diet, etc.

In a nutshell

More informative than most government Web sites related to the needs of the elderly. Clear practice guidelines for prevention and treatment would be a nice addition.

National Institute on Aging (NIA) )www.nih.gov/nia)

Friendliness ****

Helpful search engine and subject categories, attractive graphics.

Useful to caregivers ***

Provides clear, scientifically accurate explanations of complex issues, such as the advantage of regular exercise among the very old, which can be used to educate elderly residents. Alzheimer's and related dementias are the Institute's specialties.

SNF-related content **

Relatively little content refers to specific SNF issues.

In a nutshell

Nice mix of popularly written information and hard-core science.

National Institutes of Health

(www.nih.gov)

Friendliness ****

Equipped with three very helpful search engines: NIH Health Information Index, the MEDLINEplus bibliography and ClinicalTrials.gov.

Useful to caregivers ***

The home page does a good job of directing users to specific Institute Web sites for various diseases. Usefulness then varies depending on the contents of each Institute's Web site. Some Institutes are heavily research oriented; others offer material for caregivers.

SNF-related content ***

In addition to disease-specific information, the site provides information on how residents may enroll in clinical trials of new, potentially effective therapies, and how providers can apply for research grants.

In a nutshell

Opens a gateway to a universe of information, but most of it is designed with the academic researcher or scientist in mind.

U.S. Congress House Committee on Ways and Means

(waysandmeans.house.gov)

Friendliness ***

Attractive graphics and easy directions to specific subcomittees, including the subcommittee on health.

Useful to caregivers *

This site is all about funding issues rather than care.

SNF-related content ***

Does a good job of providing access to hearing information and calendars, testimony and reports related to federal financing of nursing homes.

In a nutshell

Exceptionally well organized for a congressional committee Web site. Other Hill Web sites tend to be boring, with no content other than links to the home pages of each committee member. This one makes an effort to be informative.
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Article Details
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Author:Stoil, Michael J.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2000
Words:1432
Previous Article:Trust.
Next Article:Laura Hyatt's Guide to Post-Acute Sites.
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