The latest case study from the Labor Management Project (LMP) research team spotlights the successful Lean improvement program completed, with the help of the LMP, at Saints Joachim & Anne Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. The report is the second in a series of LMP case studies titled The Power of Partnership.

In March 2013, LMP staff began their work with a multi-disciplinary team of managers, CNAs, and other union members. The aim of the program was to improve the management of nursing supplies and inventory in order to add value and reduce cost, applying Lean management principles in a collaborative process to improve both resident and staff satisfaction. The LMP worked with the 5th and 7th floors to engage all staff in identifying areas of waste, examining par levels (the level of supplies a floor needs on hand to meet needs), and optimizing the use of supplies.

In just a few sessions, the Lean Team mastered essential tools of Lean management such as the Fishbone Diagram, Flowchart, and 80/20 Rule. These tools helped team members analyze the root causes of problems and identify possible solutions. The LMP staff also provided coaching in effective meeting facilitation, communications, and conflict resolution – all essential skills when engaging in collaborative work. Once training was complete, the group set a goal of reducing nursing supply waste by 3% in three months. The initiative ultimately surpassed that goal, saving the organization 5% in supply costs, or more than $13,000 over the first five months of 2014.

The Lean team became self-facilitating and self-sustaining. CNAs emerged as natural leaders, educating their co-workers about the implications of waste, engaging them in the testing of alternative products, and encouraging them to adhere to new practices. And it didn’t stop there. The multidisciplinary team led an educational session at the Pioneer Network’s 14th annual conference, the nation’s largest conference focused solely on culture change and person-centered living. In a session titled “Trust the Experts: Lean Management Principals in a Nursing Home Environment,” the team shared its experience and success using Lean tools to identify and reduce waste, increase efficiency, and save money.

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