Image of Healthcare worker and pharmaceuticals Based on an understanding of the interrelationship between the work environment and quality of care offered to long-term care residents, OTEC’s research projects and collaborations with health care organizations focus on organizational practices that enhance frontline staff participation in problem solving.

The Rutgers Long-Term Care Learning Collaborative

With funding from the Johnson and Johnson Corporation, OTEC co-director Michele Ochsner initiated a “learning collaborative” for five central NJ nursing homes. Interdisciplinary facility teams made up of aides, nurses, and managers have taken part in a series of interactive workshops. The customized curriculum developed for this project allows nursing home participants to learn about best practices and identify and prioritize the most important steps their facilities can take to improve the work environment. Partnering facilities have used this collaborative quality improvement process to work toward the following outcomes:

  1. Enhanced knowledge and problem-solving skills of nursing home managers, nursing supervisors, and frontline staff; 
  2. Strengthened organizational systems that support effective organizational change; 
  3. Improved work environment and increased job satisfaction and morale of frontline caregivers; 
  4. Enhanced resident care. 

Evaluation results indicate that facility teams are using the Learning Collaborative to implement substantive projects that enhance communication among nursing staff and allow more effective resident care. Moreover, facility teams find the opportunities to learn from each other in a collaborative setting extremely valuable. In the 2010 project cycle, the Learning Collaborative will include a broader range of long-term care providers and focus on work environment practices that support resident-centered care. 

Improving Direct Care Work

What are the implications of high performance work practices, work organization, and job design theory for improving direct care work? See: Ochsner, M., Leana, C., and Appelbaum, E. 2009. Improving Direct Care Work: Integrating Theory, Research, and Practice. White Paper commissioned by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Health and Safety Projects

Frontline health care workers have one of the highest incidences of work-related injuries of any job classification. Keeping frontline health care workers safe is important for both workers and patients. 

OTEC’s health and safety projects conducted from 2001 – 2008 focused on injury prevention in long-term care and hospital settings have provided a foundation for understanding health care work environments and a foundation for OTEC’s current health care projects. Projects have included US Department of Labor funded health and safety training grants focused on bloodborne pathogens and a collaboration with the Health Professional and Allied Employees and three NJ hospitals implementing safe patient handling programs. Carmen Martino is continuing OTEC’s health and safety work as a curriculum writer for the New Jersey Work Environment Council’s Safe Work/Safe Care Project.