The field of long term care is becoming increasingly demanding. Healthcare professionals on all levels feel increased pressure to deliver good quality care to residents. In most facilities the patient census has increased, leading to mounting pressure on floor nurses to get their job done in a timely manner and not accrue overtime. Is there a solution? Yes; it is called Continuous Process Improvement.
Continuous Process Improvement is a way to identify and eliminate problems. It is a continuous, systematic approach to making work output more efficient. It will reduce waste and lead to increased job satisfaction on the part of front line stakeholders. The advantage of process improvement strategies is that it requires stakeholders from different departments and hierarchies to work together. It comes from the Japenese word “kaizen” which means “improvement”.
Oftentimes, when people think of change they envision a mass overhaul of processes. That is not what continuous process improvement strategies are about. It involves “small cycle of change.” It is a course of wisdom to do things in small increments over a period of time. For example, I had the privilege of working on a process improvement project for the therapy department at the facility where I work. It was a major project and it required participation from three different departments. The problem involved the therapist failing to meet their required production quotas. There was also a change on the horizon involving Medicare 3.0 which completely changed how therapists were able to count minutes with patients. The entire process took one month to fix.
The first thing we did as a group was to have each therapist map out his or her typical workday. This was done by taking a large sheet of white paper with blue, yellow, and pink post it notes. On the left hand side of the paper, each position was represented on a blue stick it note. Across from each blue post it note, we used yellow post it notes to outline each step taken throughout the shift. We used the pink post it notes to identify problems that each therapist encountered during the day. Also a lot of background investigative work went into this project. I had retrieved from the Rehab Services Manager (RSM) a copy of each therapist workload which included the number of patients for each therapist, and their required number of minutes.
The nursing department also had to map out their shift, hence patient availablity for the therapist revolved around the primary care scheldules to which nursing staff adhered. It also involved the dietary department because the schedule for meal delivery was dictated by which unit a patient resided. Small steps that were taken included implementation of a system that allowed for the schelduling of patients and more open communication between departments. That was one year ago, yet today, that process is still working with many other processes that followed.
That is just one example, but Continuous Process Improvement can help Certified Nursing Assistants complete their job faster and more efficiently, as well as, their charge nurses. For stakeholders that utilize this process, they are always able to complete their job assignments efficiently and deliver high quality care. For more information, please visit my blog at http://zandracastillo.blogspot.com