Improving care for residents in long term care facilities experiencing an acute change in health status

AB-AM-Improving LTC-ED Care

Alberta (ED)

Background: Long term care (LTC) facilities provide health services and assist residents with daily care. At times residents may require transfer to emergency departments (ED), depending on the severity of their change in health status, their goals of care, and the ability of the facility to care for medically unstable residents. However, many transfers from LTC to ED are unnecessary, and expose residents to discontinuity in care and iatrogenic harms. This knowledge translation project aims to implement a standardized LTC-ED care and referral pathway for LTC facilities seeking transfer to ED, which optimizes the use of resources both within the LTC facility and surrounding community.


Methods/design: We will use a quasi-experimental randomized stepped-wedge design in the implementation and evaluation of the pathway within the Calgary zone of Alberta Health Services (AHS), Canada. Specifically, the intervention will be implemented in 38 LTC facilities. The intervention will involve a standardized LTC-ED care and referral pathway, along with targeted INTERACT® tools. The implementation strategies will be adapted to the local context of each facility and to address potential implementation barriers identified through a staff completed barriers assessment tool. The evaluation will use a mixed-methods approach. The primary outcome will be any change in the rate of transfers to ED from LTC facilities adjusted by resident-days. Secondary outcomes will include a post-implementation qualitative assessment of the pathway. Comparative cost-analysis will be undertaken from the perspective of publicly funded health care.


Discussion: This study will integrate current resources in the LTC-ED pathway in a manner that will better coordinate and optimize the care for LTC residents experiencing an acute change in health status.


Authors: Abraham Munene, Eddy Lang, Vivian Ewa, Heather Hair, Greta Cummings, Patrick McLane, Eldon Spackman, Peter Faris, Nancy Zuzic, Patrick B. Quail, Marian George, Anne Heinemeyer, Daniel Grigat, Mark McMillen, Shawna Reid, Jayna Holroyd-Leduc

Planning / Thinking