Guest Columns

Quick tips for adapting QAPI

Chris Osterberg
Chris Osterberg

Recent warnings about a culture change in long-term care are often discussed by leaders in the industry. The topic of why the culture must change (i.e. increasing regulations and auditing pressures) has become an easy issue to talk about.

However, it is harder to find expert, practical advice on how to tackle these challenges. Here are 10 quick tips for successful QAPI team building: 

  1. Assess your current culture. To quickly evaluate your facility's readiness, it is important to take stock of what you have in place. 

  2. Address the frequent question, “Isn't QAPI just like QA, just called something new?” The answer is yes and no. Many tasks and improvements you have made, or are considering, may contain components of QAPI.

  3. Use simple ways to introduce your staff to concepts of QAPI. Begin by distributing and discussing the "QAPI News Brief, Vol. 1," the only one published to date. (This document is less daunting than the more than the 40-page "QAPI at a Glance," and provides basic examples your department heads can start thinking about.) 

  4. Through the course of one week, discuss the five elements of QAPI — one at each daily team meeting. Assign your staff to read ahead, so they can come prepared to give examples of how each element is present in the facility. 

  5. Follow the descriptions and examples in the QAPI news brief to identify concrete points you recognize in your processes and supports. When you find partial or no examples, create a to-do list. 

  6. Assign tasks and ask department heads to include all department members in developing ways to meet the QAPI Five Elements criteria. 

  7. Find ways to include QAPI in agendas for all meetings, as a way to begin integration of the QAPI process. 

  8. Brief discussions of how you are using root cause analysis, promoting communication with those closest to areas of concern, and providing ongoing support through time and materials should be part of each action plan. 

  9. Include extra time once a week to document progress. 

  10. Emphasize that using the term QAPI, and getting it out to the masses in the facility, is important. Repetition and visibility will reinforce that QAPI is part of everything we do, not just a monthly or quarterly focus at an exclusive management meeting.

Chris Osterberg, RN, BSN, is a senior nursing consultant at Pathway Health.

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