You've asked the million dollar question! We've all the heard the term a gazillion times. It has been used to protest staffing trends and institute new facility policies. LTC facilities and hospitals alike have been blasted for poor "quality care" and I have yet to see a concrete definition of the term posted or guidelines set for healthcare workers to follow along the lines of this phrase.
As a nurse, I have my own views of what quality entails based on my morals, skills, knowledge, experience, and work ethics. It encompasses such a wide spectrum of issues, that it is difficult to place my ideals into a few short words. However, to simplify as best as I can in short-order, I envision quality care as the state in
which every means is employed to provide care which maintains the optimal physical, recreational, spiritual, and emotional health of a patient. It includes a wide range of activities which include, but are not limited to assessing the health needs of a resident, implementing care to return to optimal health, assessing the plan to make sure it is appropriate and notifying family and Drs. if it is not. It also includes delivery of basic grooming needs, adm. meds, treatments, and collaborating with other healthcare members to devise plans of care to meet the patients goals, and to ensure the patient's rights to safety, comfort, care, and dignity issues are delivered in a timely manner. The bottom line is that all of my patients are cared for as if they were one of my loved ones, and treated no less than I would expect if I were in the patients' and families' shoes.
This makes my job quite difficult. Most days there isn't enough time for 1 individual to address all the patients' needs and overall health status, deliver the appropriate care and monitor its effectiveness, keep family and Drs. informed, and document this all. It has to be a team approach consisting of social workers, physical therapies, speech, occupational, and resp. therapy, dietitians, etc. Most importantly there has to be an excellent rapport and communication between all these healthcare members.
Everyone has a different variation of the meaning of quality care. Until it is better defined, I will continue to be guided by my heart, morals, and ethics. In addition, I will continue to discuss with my patients and families what exactly it is they expect in the terms of quality and care. If these needs and patient requests are met, along with holistic health care maintenance, then I am confident they've obtained quality care.