Improving practices in Assisted Living with quality assurance programs
Quality care is the backbone of the healthcare industry, and communities are encouraged to make internal evaluations to ensure state standards and that consistent quality care is provided. Quality Assurance (QA) programs offer the opportunity for assisted living communities to review their current systems and implement proper action plans that lead to the desired environment for staff, residents, and clients.
What is the purpose of a quality assurance program?
The core purpose of quality assurance programs is to evaluate the effectiveness of internal processes and services. Reviewing internal data provides the opportunity to identify trends and patterns that relate to concerns that need to be addressed by communities.
This evaluation process is a critical component in determining a root cause. Through root cause analysis, QA committees can develop and implement corrective action plans. Once these changes are in place, the effects of these changes must be regularly monitored to ensure they are successful or revised to achieve the desired outcomes.
Why do I need a quality assurance program?
In many states, QA programs have confidentiality and privilege protection. This protection allows health care providers, including providers in Assisted Living and Long-Term Care communities, protection to privately investigate, discuss, and take action on any sentinel events and incidents that have occurred internally. Under this protection, an internal review and implementation can be conducted without disclosing those details to outside entities.
How to build a quality assurance program
- Members - Committee members have a variety of different job titles and responsibilities. They offer valuable input on recommended changes to move forward within the systematic action plan. It’s important to include decision-makers in the company who can approve and implement any changes discussed during meetings and to have individuals who represent the various levels of responsibility in providing direct care.
- Meeting Frequency - Meetings should be held quarterly to show that systems are evaluated regularly. Anything more frequent may be challenging to accomplish consistently as proper evaluations require a deep dive of root cause analysis.
- Documentation - Proper documentation is vital for validation that these meetings have occurred. Attendance should be documented with each member’s name and the date and time that the meeting had occurred for proof of attendance. There should also be a written agenda of general topics discussed during the QA program meetings, as it is a public document that third parties can review.
- Topics - Topics discussed during these meetings should be focused on providing the safest work and care environment for staff, residents, and clients. Infection control, needle safety, medication errors, fall prevention, behavior management, and employee safety are all examples of important topics to be addressed.
What to review?
Incident reports, investigations, and sentinel events are imperative to review during QA meetings. Through root cause analysis, organizations calculate whether or not systematic changes need to be addressed to improve outcomes for staff, residents, and clients.
During the review process, it’s valuable to understand that incident reports contain the facts of an event and are part of a resident or client’s medical record. These documents are discoverable and disclosable to third parties. Investigations, however, can be a separate document where further evaluations of the incident details are kept. These investigations can be kept confidential and privileged as a part of a QA committee’s work project.
Although evaluating individual incidents and events is a core component of quality assurance, QA programs are designed to look at overall systems to improve current practices, training, and procedures to prevent future incidents from occurring.
What to take away?
Evaluating progress or improvements in systems aids in reducing or preventing any sentinel events or adverse outcomes that have occurred in the past. Setting quarterly goals should be made during each meeting to implement plans. These measurable goals gauge the success of the implementation process and allow for future evaluation and improvements.
Building best practices with the leading Assisted Living Software
As healthcare software advances, communities are taking advantage of these resources and implementing their QA programs electronically. ECP is a leading assisted living software that incorporates the necessary tools QA committees need to conduct proper evaluations and implement notable changes. Quarterly meetings can be scheduled in advance and incorporated into team members’ daily schedules for routine evaluations. Agendas can be customized with the topics of each meeting, and members can document their attendance with immediate date and time stamps. This documentation can easily be retrieved and distributed to third parties upon request. Current practices, training processes, incident reports, and investigations are centralized to a single location where committee members can conduct efficient reviews and implement improvements aligned with goals. This technology simplifies processes and drastically improves overall outcomes and quality care.