Dr. Tracie Harrison, director for the Center in Aging Services and Long Term Care at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, thoroughly enjoys being an academic researcher. Her body of work largely focuses on the health of older adults and disabled people, and how to improve the care they receive in nursing facilities and in the community.
She regularly can be found sharing her work at conferences across the country, and last year had the unique privilege to travel to China twice. In October, she was invited to be the keynote at the 2018 Boao International Nursing Forum held in Boao, Hainan Province. In her remarks to a Chinese audience she spoke about the state of long-term care in the United States.
"It was an opportunity to meet with other academic researchers and with members of the long-term care community, including nursing administrators, nurses and residents to exchange information, learn from one another, and how our systems each address the needs of older adults similarly and differently," Harrison said.
One difference about long-term care in China is that they have a younger system than that in the United States. This stems from a cultural tradition in China of revering the elderly, and inviting multigenerational family structures to be housed under the same roof. However, due to societal, economic, and political changes in the country, including the impact of the one-child policy and longer life spans these historical living arrangements have decreased, and more older adults are faced with a model similar to the American long-term care industry. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, China had more than 144,600 nursing institutions in September 2017, a 226 percent increase from 2012.
Besides presenting in China, Harrison got to tour acute care facilities, and met with a group of nurses who work in hospitals. In June 2018, Harrison traveled to Xiangya Nursing School of Central South University, located in the Hunan Province.
In Texas, there are more than 93,000 residents living in nursing homes, and about 110,000 healthcare workers caring for them. Part of the Center for Excellence in Aging Services and Long Term Care's mission is to disseminate best practices based on evidence-based research, as well as advocate on measures that increase staff retention and satisfaction and resident quality-of-life. Anyone interested in long-term care and aging issues can use the free resources on the Center website at www.utlongtermcarenurse.com.