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August 2009 Issue

Charles Puchta, director of the College of Nursing’s Center for Aging with Dignity, and co-project leader Amy Sper, vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer of Drake Center, won the 2009 Goldberg Award for Innovations for their efforts.
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College of Nursing, Drake Produce Award-Winning Project

Published August 2009

Thanks to a collaborative effort between the UC College of Nursing and Drake Center, patients at Drake are better equipped to participate in their recovery and take responsibility for their continued care after leaving the hospital. 

Charles Puchta, director of the UC College of Nursing’s Center for Aging with Dignity, just recently wrapped up a two-year collaboration with Drake Center on a project called, “Empowering Patient/Family Collaboration Through Improved Education and Information.”  

The project was honored with the 2009 Goldberg Award for Innovations by the National Association of Long Term Hospitals as one of the country’s most innovative programs based on uniqueness, measurement indicators, financial impact and lessons learned.  

Puchta served as the project co-leader along with Amy Sper, vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer of Drake Center. He also worked closely with Terry Dunn, vice president of operations at Drake Center.

In addition, an interdisciplinary committee representing clinical support areas was actively involved throughout the project.  

Together, Puchta and Drake Center staff realized an opportunity to educate and inform patients more fully. They discovered that patient and family involvement in the care process could be improved with comprehensive teaching tools and personal education using these tools.

“As a provider of acute long-term care and transitional skilled nursing care, I believe extended patient stays afford us a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with and educate patients and family members,” says Sper.

The project’s goal was to enhance collaboration through better and more consistent education and communication, empowering patients and their families to understand their situation, better participate in the care process and manage their recovery upon discharge.

To accomplish this, the team developed a personalized education guide that is now given to all patients upon admission to Drake Center.

The “Patient and Family Guide” is a compilation of short and easy-to-understand handbooks, covering such areas as patient safety, patient rights and responsibilities and discharge planning and care-giving.

But the guide isn’t just handed to each patient. Drake Center uses these guides as teaching tools. Staff members explain and review each section with the patient and his or her family or caregiver throughout their stay. In addition, educational sheets pertaining to each patient’s specific health challenges, care and therapies are updated and added to their guide as they work through their recovery.

“Empowering self-sufficiency requires good information and instructions that patients and families can find, understand and act on,” says Dunn.

Puchta says involving the family or a caregiver in the health care process is critical.

“Findings from research indicate that families have an equivalent or, oftentimes, greater need to understand a patient’s condition than the patients themselves,” he adds.

The UC-Drake Center project encourages collaborative care, but according to Puchta, “it’s not just collaboration with patients and families—it’s also collaboration between Drake Center associates.

“There needs to be a synergy to make it work,” he says.

“This is just one of the many ways the College of Nursing is working to enhance the health care experience and better equip nurses and other clinicians to support the needs of patients and their families,” adds Puchta.

Puchta, Sper and the Drake Center team are excited about the project’s outcome and the effects of the guides. Feedback from Drake associates and Press Ganey satisfaction scores all indicate success.

“In addition to increased patient satisfaction, our associates are pleased to have the tools they need to provide quality education—an important part of health care,” says Sper. “We are excited about initial outcomes and the interest from and involvement of our clinical staff.”

“It was an amazing project,” adds Puchta. “It’s gratifying to look back and see all we accomplished within a short period of time. It was truly a team effort.” 

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