November 6, 2023
The team at on the Alternate Level of Care unit at Carewest Sarcee used the Alberta Improvement Way (AIW) method to build positive changes that will have a lasting positive impact on the unit and enhance client care. From left are: Cary Apejas, Unit Clerk; Caralee Kurio, Nurse Clinician; Carol Baumgarten, Director of Operations; Brooklyn Hurman, Client Service Manager; Cheryl Macneill, Health Care Aide; Kelly McDonald, Transition Services Coordinator; Sandra Lavorel, Senior Process Improvement Consultant (AIW); and Sochi Diji, Therapy Assistant. Photo by Samara Sinclair.
Story & photo by Samara Sinclair
CALGARY — While the notion of change may leave some people uneasy, when it comes to continuing care, consistent change improves programs and services for residents and clients.
For the folks who are part of the team for Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) Alberta Improvement Way (AIW), change is anything but scary — and that’s a good thing.
The AIW team delivers the principles, knowledge and tools necessary to help make changes for the better — from quick, easy process changes, to larger, more complex improvement work such as site, zone or provincial projects.
One project embraced by the AIW team recently involves the Alternate Level of Care (ALC) unit which was created in 2020 at the height of the pandemic at Carewest Sarcee in Calgary — a site which offers long-term care programs and services for residents, along with rehabilitation and recovery services, and day programming for clients.
When Client Service Manager Brooklyn Hurman assumed management of the newly evolving ALC program at Sarcee, she observed how staff appeared exhausted from learning to deliver care to a different population than they were used to.
“Early on, I recognized the level of fatigue and frustration were, oddly, mixed with a spark and drive in the staff,” says Hurman.
With a newfound passion for change management, she reached out to Sandra Lavorel, Senior Process Improvement Consultant /AIW Curriculum Lead, to start looking at what improvements could be made.
The team gathered information, compiled data and, with Lavorel’s help, prioritized unit needs to see which areas would benefit from improvement. “We learned which areas needed improvement and the steps to take towards implementing changes. It made us think about how we can do better as individuals and as a team,” says Health Care Aide Cheryl Macneill.
The discharge-planning process soon became the focus of change — with a goal to improve the process so that discharge planning started right from admission to ensure everyone would be working collaboratively to achieve a discharge goal.
A TEAMS page was created to ensure electronic communication to promote efficient discharge rounds. The team also focused on the accountability and momentum of ALC team members to discharge clients to the right location.
“For me, the discharge planning project was the most impactful project we worked on as a group,” says staff nurse Caralee Kurio.
“It can be easy to get caught up in our own ways,” she says. “Having AIW take a look at some of our processes was really great. It gave us an outside perspective and fresh ideas.”
Carol Baumgarten, Director of Operations for Carewest Sarcee, says working with AIW provided a collaborative space, gave clarity on areas of priority work, and helped her team to focus on, and make, sustainable positive change.
“This experience not only increased occupancy of the ALC unit, it established a community of change leaders,” she says. “I’m very proud of what the ALC and AIW team have created together.”