HomeLONGTERM CareLongterm CareCollaborating virtually to improve long-term care

Collaborating virtually to improve long-term care

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eam-building and face-to-face meetings were limited during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the long-term care team was committed to implementing evidence-based practices and sharing their learnings across long-term care homes.

“We were working with challenging circumstances when we were developing this study in the fall of 2020,” says Janice Sorensen, research lead, Long-Term Care and Assisted Living. “We thought, let’s do it virtually.”

Multidisciplinary quality improvement teams were created with dedicated people, including nurses, physicians, residents and family partners. The teams collaborated via online communication and collaboration platforms, Zoom and Slack.

A study led by Dr. Akber Mithani, Regional Medical Director, Janice Sorensen, Research Lead and their research team examined how long-term care homes can benefit from a virtual quality improvement collaborative approach to pandemic preparedness.

Quality Improvement Coaches, Dr. Adriaan Windt and Angela Tecson, guided the teams through weekly virtual huddles. Using adapted quality improvement tools, the coaches helped the teams transform their 46 change ideas into 16 quality improvement projects for prevention, preparation and response to COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes. The projects also addressed staff recognition and family visitation concerns.

“Kudos to our coaches who developed some long-term care adaptive quality improvement tools to be at a very attainable level,” says Janice. “Everyone involved, whether resident or staff member, was on the same page to walk that quality improvement
journey together.”

The virtual quality improvement collaborative approach worked well, with all but one of the projects completed within the study period.

The study found that quality improvement infrastructure and virtual supports can help conduct timely projects to improve pandemic response in long-term care homes during emergencies when in-person communication is not possible.

Crucial takeaways from the study are that flexibility and customizing approaches for each long-term care home are essential with consideration for staff time availability and capacity. Also, multidisciplinary teams, including family members or residents, provide valuable and diverse perspectives to inform projects.

“As we reflect on the challenges during the pandemic and the outcomes of our study, it’s evident that investing in quality improvement initiatives is paramount,” says Janice.

The study was part of the ‘Implementation Science Teams – Strengthening Pandemic Preparedness in Long-Term Care’ programme led by Healthcare Excellence Canada, co-funded by Michael Smith Health Research BC and the BC Ministry of Health and supported by Health Quality BC.

Although the study was limited to six long-term care homes, the adaptive quality improvement tools and lessons learned have informed ongoing quality improvement initiatives in long-term care homes across the Fraser Health region.

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