As the long-term care industry becomes increasingly competitive, nursing homes are continually striving to provide the highest quality of resident and patient care. ArchCare is part of that trend, and one of its latest initiatives demonstrates the power of including direct care workers in quality improvement efforts.

ArchCare is the continuing care community of the Archdiocese of New York. It operates five well-respected long-term care facilities that provide care to more than 2,500 individuals a day: Carmel Richmond, Ferncliff, Mary Manning Walsh, St. Vincent de Paul, and Terence Cardinal Cooke. In 2016, ArchCare partnered with Rutgers University to provide Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training to ten management staff across their system. To give these initial projects greater traction, ArchCare also provided white belt training to approximately 200 managers across the organization so that they would be ready to serve on process improvement teams.

After the initiative began, Labor Management Partnership (LMP) Assistant Director of Nursing Homes Janice Dabney and Hugo Pizarro, SVP and Chief Experience Officer for ArchCare, asked themselves a simple question: “Given the important role direct care workers play in quality improvement, shouldn’t they participate in Lean Six Sigma training too?” After all, direct care workers, being closest to residents, often have the best understanding of the many challenges associated with providing quality care.

The LMP sponsored four eight-hour White Belt trainings facilitated by ArchCare’s Director of Learning and Organizational Development Jonathan Rubell and Manager of Learning and Organization Development Jose Vieira. Four Union staff members from each of the five nursing homes and Union leadership representing ArchCare participated. The trainings included interactive exercises and group discussions, and the direct care workers spoke up, offering their perspective on the systems and processes they interact with on a daily basis. Participants left the trainings energized and ready to partner with managers on corporate quality improvement initiatives as well as initiatives at residents’ bedsides.

A team of LMP and ArchCare staff conducted a workshop about the training at this year’s Pioneer Network Conference in Chicago, which attracts long-term care professionals from all over the world to share best practices in person-directed care. Management and Union pairs described their experiences to a large audience of their peers, explaining how the initiative had reduced unnecessary hospitalizations in 2016. The presenters also conducted a White Belt training exercise and discussed a new project started this year that is aimed at reducing employee turnover.

The LMP will continue to be a resource for ArchCare and the Union as they travel on their continuous improvement journey. We look forward to sharing many future successes.

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