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Penn, in collaboration with Long-Term Quality Alliance, will now play a role in improving care for and increasing awareness of people in need of long-term care.

The Alliance is comprised of a board with 29 leading specialists, policy-makers and service providers. Mary Naylor, the director of the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at Penn’s School of Nursing, will serve as chair of the Alliance.

The School of Nursing — and Naylor in particular — was chosen for this project because the Alliance recognized its capacity to “play a major leadership role” in the organization, Naylor said.

“They reached out to me because of our team at Penn and the work we’ve been doing in building the evidence in how to improve the quality of care for this population,” she said.

Another reason, she added, is that Nursing “is going to have a tremendously engaged leadership [role] in figuring out how to better care for the population.”

The main goal of the Alliance is to really help this population of people who need long-term care, Naylor said.

The Alliance intends to do so in two ways.

“We are substantially accelerating the quality of nursing homes. We want to keep people in their homes or communities,” Naylor said. “Secondly, we want to make sure the measures we are using are important to people. We want to fit their needs and desires.”

The first couple years will be devoted to “focusing on a couple of key quality issues that align with the national health agenda,” she added.

One such issue is the high rate of avoidable hospitalization for this population.

The Alliance will work to create procedures to prevent such unneeded hospitalization.

The group is also concerned with decreasing healthcare costs.

Doug Pace, the executive director of the Alliance, emphasized its importance.

“The number of Americans needing long-term services and support is set [to] increase to 27 million by 2050,” Pace wrote in an e-mail. “Two-thirds of these people are under the age of 65.”

The increasing population in need of long-term services requires improved care.

“Long-term care is a prevalent issue with a lot of controversy,” Nursing sophomore Lizi Marks said. “It will be really interesting to see what [the Alliance] will come up with as to how to solve the unfortunate ways that long-term care is handled.”

Naylor called this a major opportunity because “this is a group that is sometimes invisible and their family caretakers, who provide most of the care for the population, are invisible.”

Together with the group, Naylor hopes “to tremendously accelerate improvement in the quality that these people deserve,” she said.

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