Xue, T., Colón-Emeric, C. S., Herndon, L., Hecker, E. J., Berry, S. D., Little, M. O., & McConnell, E. S. (2022). Strengthening Resident, Proxy, and Staff Engagement in Injury Prevention in Skilled Nursing Facilities. The Gerontologist, 62(8), 1112-1123.

Background and Objectives

Engaging residents, their proxies, and skilled nursing facility (SNF) staff through effective communication has potential for improving fall-related injury prevention. The purpose of this study was to understand how multiple stakeholders develop and communicate fall-related injury prevention plans to enhance sustained implementation.

Research Design and Methods

Descriptive qualitative study using framework analysis applied to open-ended semistructured interviews (n = 28) regarding experiences of communication regarding fall-related injury prevention, guided by the Patient and Family Engaged Care framework. Participants included residents at high risk of injury and their proxies, nursing assistants, nurses, and a nurse practitioner from 3 SNFs in the Eastern United States (Massachusetts and North Carolina).

Results

Interdisciplinary teams were viewed as essential for injury prevention. However, the roles of the interdisciplinary team members were sometimes unclear. Communication structures were often hierarchical, which reduced engagement of nursing assistants and frustrated proxies. Practices that enhanced engagement included knowing the residents, active listening skills, and use of strategies for respecting autonomy. Engagement was inhibited by time constraints, lack of proactive communication among staff, and by challenges eliciting the perspectives of residents with dementia. Resident barriers included desire for autonomy, strong preferences, and language differences.

Discussion and Implications

Strengthening team meeting processes and cultivating open communication and collaboration could facilitate staff, resident, and proxy engagement in injury prevention planning and implementation. Skill building and targeting resources to improve communication can address barriers related to staff practices, resident characteristics, and time constraints.