Implementing Frontline Worker–Led Quality Improvement in Nursing Homes: Getting to “How”

Liane Ginsburg, Adam Easterbrook, Whitney Berta, Peter Norton, Malcolm Doupe, Jennifer Knopp-Sihota, Ruth A. Anderson, Adrian Wagg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite emerging frameworks for quality improvement (QI) implementation, little is known about how the implementation process works, particularly in nursing home settings. A study was conducted to describe “how”’ a complex frontline worker–led QI program was implemented in nursing homes. Methods: Six focus groups were conducted in February 2017 with participants of a year-long, multicomponent, unit-level QI intervention in seven nursing homes in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Constant comparative analysis was used to examine perspectives of different groups of QI program participants—35 health care aides, health professionals, and managers. Results: Five themes important to the implementation process were identified: (1) “supportive elements of the QI program structure,” (2) “navigating the workplace,” (3) “negotiating relationships,” (4) “developing individual skills,” and (5) “observable program impact.” Data on theme integration suggest that “supportive elements of the QI program structure” (Theme 1), “developing individual skills” (Theme 4), and “observable program impact” (on residents, health care aides, and leaders; Theme 5) operated as part of a reinforcing feedback loop that boosted team members’ ability to navigate the workplace, negotiate relationships, and implement the QI program. Conclusion: Health care aide–led QI teams are feasible. However, a leadership paradox exists whereby worker-led QI programs also must incorporate concrete mechanisms to promote strong leadership and sponsor support to teams. The findings also point to the underexplored impact of interpersonal relationships between health care aides and professional staff on QI implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-535
Number of pages10
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep. 2018


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