in nursing homes often not brought to light
Newswise — The issue of nursing home quality is getting more
attention as baby boomers age. It is estimated by the U.S. Census
Bureau that 35 percent of the total population will be older than 65
by 2020. A recent study by a University of Missouri-Columbia nursing
researcher found that a shift in attitude is needed to improve the
quality of care in nursing homes.
According to the study, preventable errors in the healthcare system
are the eighth most common cause of death. The study suggests that
medication errors could be a large part of the problem. In nursing
homes, administering medicine is viewed as a routine task. However,
because most nursing home residents are frail and elderly, even
minor medication discrepancies can have very negative outcomes,
according to Jill Scott-Cawiezell, assistant professor in the MU
Sinclair School of Nursing.
In broaching the subject of medication errors and ways to
correct them during the study, Scott-Cawiezell said she was surprised by her
experiences working with ‘front-line staff’ who often faced so many
demands and were so stressed they didn’t even want to know about
their mistakes. Her study suggests that nursing home leaders are
aware of fewer than 5 percent of the errors in the system, but that
staff members are aware of all of them
“We have to help them see things differently,” she said.
“They need to see the problems so they can solve them. We
have to help them create a culture of safety and move away
from a culture of blame.”
The study concludes that it is up to nurse leaders to create an
environment of safety in a nursing home. Team members must feel a
sense of responsibility to make sure residents are safe. Nurse
leaders must invite participation in decision making and improve
communication. Instead, many nursing homes are challenged by limited
resources and overwhelmed leadership. The study found that staff
members were frustrated by leaders who did not provide clear
expectations or support.
During the study, researchers intervened in five different nursing
homes. Communication, relationships and leadership were measured.
Staff members were frustrated by disorganization in most cases.
Also, a survey showed that only a small percentage of the staff felt
that they were well informed about everything from what happened on
other shifts to what nursing leaders expected of them.
The study – Moving from a Culture of Blame to a Culture of Safety in
the Nursing Home Setting – was published in the most recent issue of