How Staff Assess and Communicate Change in Condition

December 21, 2012 | Aging Services Risk Management


​Researchers convened focus groups involving 14 experienced nurses, nursing aides, and a physical therapist at a nursing facility that is part of a continuing care retirement community to discuss how they detect and communicate changes in resident condition, reports an article in the November 2012 Journal of Gerontological Nursing. The discussions revolved mainly around three themes: knowing your resident, detecting a significant change, and working as a team. Regarding the theme "knowing your resident," both aides and licensed staff stressed the importance of understanding the "range of normal" for each resident. Consistent resident assignments were described as facilitating this knowledge. Aides reported learning about residents primarily through usual care activities, while licensed staff said they primarily rely in written and oral communication. Regarding the theme "detecting a significant change," aides and licensed staff listed a wealth of clinical signs that they watch for, but they also described change in demeanor as a red flag.

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