Let's talk about teamwork (again)

Emily Mongan
Emily Mongan

It's no secret that when a team works well together, good things will follow. If you've ever served on a committee, played a team sport or assembled a holiday meal with too many cooks in the kitchen, you know your group's ability to work as a team can make you or break you.

The strength of teamwork is even more crucial when it comes to the long-term care industry, as if you needed me to remind you. In a recent McKnight's poll asking what hidden talent is most valuable in your staff, one response came back with “TEAMWORK,” in all caps.

Working well together is important to LTC, and you know it. It can help reduce the infection rate in your facility, and is a driving force in shaping organizational culture. Now you can add another benefit of teamwork to the never-ending lineup of things it improves, thanks to experts with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

During a recent MLN Connects National Provider Call, experts with the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes emphasized the importance of teamwork to tackling a pressing issue in dementia care: antipsychotic medications, blood thinners and adverse drug-related events. The topic is “what keeps us up at night,” shared Susan M. Levy, M.D., president-elect of AMDA, the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine during the Dec. 1 webinar.

Fifty-nine percent of adverse events that occur in nursing homes are likely preventable, with 66% of those events related to medication, Levy shared. To combat those events, facilities should implement or revise their medication management programs to emphasize communication and collaboration.

Medical directors should educate the team, which includes residents and families, on aspects of dementia care, Levy said. The medical director should also talk, meet and share data with prescribers, the consultant pharmacist and a mental health provider when antipsychotics are concerned.

“It really takes an interprofessional team when we're looking at medication use, especially in light of increasing perplexity,” said Nicole Brandt, PharmD, with the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.

That interdisciplinary approach between hospital, nursing home and pharmacy staff is crucial to addressing the lack of consistent protocols for medication reconciliations across care settings, Brandt said. That “dream team,” so to speak, is the key to ensuring the medication reconciliation process moves smoothly during and before a patient's care transition.

“The imperative is documentation, a team approach and monitoring the patient over time,” Brandt advised. “It really takes a team.”

The team approach seems like a given, as it should be. But with the number of preventable adverse events still so high, now is the time to fine-tune your team approach for medication management.

Emily Mongan is Staff Writer at McKnight's. Follow her @emmongan.


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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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