Robyn Stone, Susan C. Reinhard, B. Bowers, et al.
Evaluation of the Wellspring Model for Improving Nursing Home Quality, Robyn I. Stone, Susan C. Reinhard, B. Bowers et al., The Commonwealth Fund, August 2002
Despite the passage of major reforms in 1987, serious quality-of-life problems are endemic throughout many of the nation's 17,000 nursing homes. In the report, Evaluation of the Wellspring Model for Improving Nursing Home Quality, researchers say, however, that a new approach to nursing home care based on collaboration and teamwork can improve the quality of care for residents.
Wellspring Innovative Solutions, Inc., an alliance of 11 nonprofit nursing homes in Wisconsin formed in 1994, is seeking to improve care principally by empowering staff. Facilities that belong to the alliance provide their "frontline" workers—particularly certified nursing assistants—with training in nationally recognized best practices while at the same time allowing all staff a voice in how their work should be performed. In addition, each home in the alliance participates in joint training sessions on clinical care and organizational change, and each shares the results of its quality-improvement activities. Findings from a Commonwealth Fund-supported study comparing Wellspring nursing homes with other facilities in Wisconsin have clearly been encouraging:
So far, five other groups of nursing homes have considered forming Wellspring alliances, mostly in Illinois and Wisconsin. Wider adoption of Wellspring, however, will require some adjustments to address the technical difficulties identified in the evaluation, including the development of explicit mechanisms for translating training into practice.
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