Conclusion

Improving Patient Safety in Long-Term Care Facilities, Module 2

Four Points to Remember

Noticing changes in a resident's condition is important, but by itself, it is not enough to ensure resident safety and well-being. Changes must be detected early and communicated promptly across the multidisciplinary team and within the nursing team.

A safe environment is based on good communication. Everyone is responsible for speaking up about safety concerns and changes in a resident's condition, and everyone's input should be welcome. In a safe environment, no one is trying to place blame; rather, everyone is working to determine what is best for the resident and the institution.

Communication skills can be learned. These include preparing to communicate, presenting information, and getting feedback. All team members must listen carefully when a message is being presented, respond to it, and follow up.

We all face barriers to communication. In a health care setting, differences in level of authority and environmental or system barriers are often the hardest to get past. However, good communication between team members who have different roles, such as nursing assistants and licensed nurses, is essential to good outcomes for residents.

We can improve our reporting on changes in a resident's condition by using one of several tools, such as the SBAR technique, which helps structure communications.

In Summary

  • Noticing changes in a resident's condition is important, but it is not enough to ensure resident safety and well-being.
  • Changes must be detected early and communicated promptly.
  • A safe environment is based on good communication.
  • Everyone is responsible for speaking up.
  • Communication skills can be learned.
  • We all face barriers to communication.

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Pearls and Pitfalls

Pearls

  1. Caring means communicating.
  2. Communication happens in many directions and among many other disciplines.
  3. Communicating effectively means speaking up in a way that will be "heard" and listening for feedback.
  4. Effective communication means speaking and listening.
  5. We often face barriers to communication, and frequently there are multiple barriers at the same time.
  6. Communication tools like SBAR and CUS help us structure our communications.

Pitfalls

  1. Assuming that someone knows what is happening just because they have a higher position is often incorrect.
  2. Saying something does not mean you have been heard, so assuming that you have been heard can be a mistake.
  3. Assuming that someone from a different culture who speaks your language understands you may not be correct.
  4. Forgetting to listen can be as much of a problem as not speaking up.

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Page last reviewed June 2012
Internet Citation: Conclusion: Improving Patient Safety in Long-Term Care Facilities, Module 2. June 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/long-term-care/resources/facilities/ptsafety/ltcmod2concl.html