Home Health & Hospice

Standardization is key

Homecare Insider, September 24, 2012

A best practice standardizes the approach to care delivery for particular situations. This standard­ization is important for two reasons. One, it reduces the possibility that a staff member will make an error
or forget to do something important. Two, it allows an agency to know about and control the care provided to certain patients. There is less variation and subjectivity in care planning and delivery so an agency not only knows about but also can control care provided to certain patients. When the agency’s leaders can identify the specific care patients received, they can determine what worked or didn’t work, and then take actions to improve care and outcomes.

Some examples of best practices include the following:

  • Standardized check boxes on the home health aide assignment identifying actions the aide can implement to prevent pressure ulcers.
  • A standardized list of points to teach a patient or caregiver about how to prevent
  • pressure ulcers.
  • A standardized discipline-specific care plan, a care path, or a protocol, all the way to a disease management program.

Here’s how this can work. A patient is recovering from a hospitalization for heart failure. Without a
best practice to guide care delivery, the nurse might monitor the patient’s status and address dyspnea and chest pain. However, a best practice prompts the nurse to provide comprehensive care. The
nurse goes beyond treating symptoms to teaching about signs, symptoms, causative and contributing factors, ­prevention, and ­reporting.