06/10/2015 01:00 EDT | Updated 06/10/2016 05:59 EDT

Nursing-home comparison tool guides searches on the web

Canadians can now use a web-based tool to check how a nursing home compares with regional, provincial and national averages on measures of safety and quality of care.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) made performance indicators for more than 1,000 nursing homes and other long-term-care facilities public on Wednesday.

Until now, the information was provided to facilities to track progress.

The information is intended to support comparisons across the country, said Brent Diverty, vice-president of programs with CIHI in Ottawa.

"I think the tool would certainly be one piece of information that may be helpful in considering what home one might select," Diverty said. It "may be a source for some of the questions someone might want to ask the administration in a particular home."

The nine indicators address safety, appropriateness and effectiveness of care in long-term care:

- Falls in the last 30 days.

- Worsened pressure ulcer.

- Restraint use, which can lead to injury and falls and increase confusion and agitation.

- Potentially inappropriate use of antipsychotics among resident without a diagnosis of psychosis, such as to manage behaviours in those with dementia.

- Improved physical functioning.

- Worsened physical functioning.

- Worsened depressive mood.

- Pain experience.

- Worsened pain.

The information is based on standardized assessments done in part with residents and in consultation with families, Diverty said.

The national rate of daily restraints decreased from 15 per cent in 2010 to just less than 10 per cent in 2013 through legislation and changes in practice.

Similarly, use of anti-psychotics among those without a diagnosis of psychosis is down from 34 per cent in 2010 to 30 per cent in 2013. Rates were highest in B.C. at 33 per cent in 2013 and lowest in Alberta at 25 per cent.

Candace Chartier, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, called the information important for caregivers and operators to identify what's going well and where improvements are needed. 

Chartier cautioned against comparing homes directly without fully appreciating residents' acuity, such as their degrees of physical and cognitive decline.

The tool also updates data on hospitals, including new data on time spent in emergency for admitted patients.