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STUDY: Positive Interactions Among Nursing Home Staff Improve Outcomes

June 20, 2014

Positive interactions among nursing home staff improved teamwork and led to better responses to care-related issues, according to a study published at BMC Health Services Research on June 5.

Over the course of six months, researchers tracked staff members, including certified nursing assistants (CNAs), in four nursing homes in order to define patterns of behavior between them.

In their report, researchers defined two different “patterns of local interaction” among staff members:

  • the Common Pattern, in which “people blamed others, avoided collaboration, decided ‘not to bother the nurse,’ ignored others, said ‘it’s not my job,’ scolded others, or ‘passed the buck'”; and
  • the Positive Pattern, which included interaction strategies such as “‘be enthusiastic,’ ‘praise,’ ‘give information,’ ‘let them vent,’ ‘brainstorming,’ and ‘make suggestions.'”

Positive Pattern interactions were by far the rarer of the two interaction types, the researchers found.

But positive interactions led to “pockets of excellence in which staff members interacted in ways that coordinated responses to emerging problems in care,” they wrote.

The researchers quote a CNA who was put in a challenging situation when a resident came down with a bad case of diarrhea. The CNA, who had four other residents to provide care for that morning, was spending all of her work time helping the sick resident.

Instead of panicking, however, the CNA asked a fellow worker to take over so she could make her rounds. “I asked her to help me out. So, she took over!” the CNA is quoted as saying.

“It’s all about teamwork,” she added. “It gets a whole lot of work done faster.”

The researchers noted that the CNA’s story illustrates two elements of Positive Pattern interactions — pitching in and being approachable — which are “especially powerful interactions that…have positive outcomes.”

The researchers concluded that Positive Pattern interactions can lead to more confidence and higher job-satisfaction levels among nursing homes staff, as well as better health outcomes and a higher quality of life for residents.

— by Matthew Ozga

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