Implementing a Cornerstone of Culture Change: Consistent Staff Assignment in VHA Community Living Centers

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Abstract

In 2011, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) began implementing consistent staff assignment in its nursing homes (called Community Living Centers or CLCs). Consistent assignment, a cornerstone of culture change, minimizes the number of staff who provide a resident’s care. The present research assessed the level and stability of consistent assignment in units within VHA CLCs and identified unit characteristics related to implementation of this staff assignment model. Schedulers in 185 of 335 organizational units that make up VHA CLCs completed a Staffing Practices Survey. For the month prior to the survey, 53% of CLC units had full implementation of consistent assignment. Tracked back over time, 37% of CLC units had stable high consistent assignment, 29% had stable low consistent assignment, and 34% were variable. Units with stable high consistent assignment were most likely to use care teams with stable membership and to obtain staff input for care assignments. Schedulers in these units reported more positive experiences with consistent staff assignment and better unit functioning in terms of staff absences, complaints about workload fairness, and resolution of scheduling problems. Units with stable low and variable consistent assignment were similar in most of these respects; however, units with variable consistent assignment made greater use of stable care teams and were less likely to change assignments at a staff member’s request. Overall, consistent assignment implementation was not related to unit size, nursing hours per resident day, or specialty focus. Findings can help guide consistent staff assignment implementation in VHA and community nursing homes.

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