Wish we would have known that!" Communication breakdown impedes person-centered care

Ann Kolanowski, Kimberly Van Haitsma, Janice Penrod, Nikki Hill, Andrea Yevchak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Purpose: To understand how nursing home staff obtain information needed for implementing person-centered care (PCC) to residents with dementia who exhibit behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), and how they communicate this information to other staff. Barriers to PCC and information exchange were also explored. Design and Methods: Participants were 59 staff from two nursing homes. Focus group methodology captured discussions in eight 1-hr sessions. Sessions were audiotaped and transcribed. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis to provide a comprehensive summary of real world context of implementing PCC. Results: To deliver PCC staff identified a need for access to psychosocial/medical history of the resident and knowledge of strategies families used for managing BPSD in the past. However, resident information is not routinely shared with all staff and written documentation systems for communicating resident-specific information do not support the time-pressured work pattern of certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Word-of-mouth was considered more reliable and expedient than educational sessions. CNAs described themselves as visual learners who prefer educational programs addressing individual resident emergent behaviors and programs that are scheduled at dedicated times. Implications: To improve PCC the flow of information exchange requires: inclusion of all staff, particularly CNAs; systems of communication that consider the time and resource constraints of nursing homes; development of educational programs for BPSD that are responsive to staff learning styles; administrative investment in nursing leadership to effect these changes; and reimbursement approaches to encourage culture change investments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S50-S60
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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