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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The influence of information exchange processes on the provision of person-centred care in residential care facilities Caspar, Sienna


Purpose: The movement away from task-oriented care toward the consistent provision of person-centred care (i.e., care based on residents’ needs and preferences) is widely recognized as the goal of the residential care culture change movement. The purpose of this study was to explore why the attainment of this goal has remained elusive for many residential care facilities (RCFs), despite significant effort to alter practice. Methods: I conducted an institutional ethnography to explore the textually mediated work processes that influence the day-to-day work practices of front-line care staff in RCFs. The social organization of RCFs was explored through the observation of resident care attendants’ (RCAs') practices and the interaction of those practices with institutional texts. The data were derived from three RCFs and included 104 hours of naturalistic observation, 76 in-depth interviews, and document analysis. Results: Practical access to institutional texts containing care-related information was dependent on job classification. Regulated healthcare professionals (e.g., RNs) frequently accessed these texts to exchange information. Although RCAs provided 80% of the care to residents, in all sites studied, they lacked practical access to the institutional texts that contained important information relevant to the residents’ individualized care needs and preferences (e.g., assessments, care plans, social histories). The RCAs primarily received and shared information orally; however, the organizational systems in the facilities studied mandated the written exchange of information and did not formally support an oral exchange. Consequently, the oral exchange of care information was largely dependent upon the quality of the RCAs' working relationships with one another and especially with management. Implications: Access to detailed knowledge of residents’ needs and preferences is fundamental to the provision of person-centred care. The transfer of this knowledge to and between front-line care staff is dependent upon the quality of the relationships managers develop with and among RCAs. Initiatives aimed at building supportive and collaborative work teams are essential to the inclusion of RCAs in the care planning process and to the attainment of the goal of person-centred care.

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