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Nursing Home Staff Cohesion Boosts Care Quality

June 20, 2012

It seems like an obvious statement: nursing homes in which staff members feel more unified and connected to one another will provide better care to consumers. If a staff exhibits strong communication, healthy interpersonal relationships, and a shared sense of goals and responsibilities, it will probably be better suited to achieve its goals than a staff whose sense of cohesion is poor.

Recently, a study published in the June issue of Health Services Research confirms that seemingly self-evident observation. The researchers behind the study, led by Helena Temkin-Greener, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, looked at the rates of pressure ulcers and incontinence among more than 45,000 residents in 162 New York State nursing homes.

They found that the less unified a nursing home staff felt, the less likely it was to preventing those highly avoidable negative outcomes. On the other hand, staffs who felt strong cohesion with their co-workers were much better at thwarting pressure ulcers and incontinence. (“Cohesion” was defined by researchers as the extent to which staff shared values, goals, and responsibilities.)

“This study adds validation to a perspective we’ve long held: It’s all about relationships,” said PHI Coaching and Consulting Services Director Susan Misiorski. “That philosophy holds true regardless of the complexity of circumstances. When nursing home staff members — including direct-care workers — feel strong bonds with their co-workers, they are more likely to communicate better with them, and communication is the key to high care quality.”

Strong communication skills — including active listening and collaborative problem-solving — are an essential component of the PHI Coaching ApproachSM, a suite of skill-building tools designed to improve care outcomes in long-term care settings.

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