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J Health Hum Serv Adm. 2005 Fall;28(2):246-81.

An ethnographic study of nursing home culture to define organizational realities of culture change.

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Communication Department, Buffalo State College, USA.


The current system of delivery of nursing home care is costly both in dollars and in human terms. Culture change may provide solutions to both issues. Culture change has a different meaning for different organizations depending on where they are in the continuum of change. Detailed observation of staff members "in action" in three long-term care facilities over a period of several months was supplemented by formal and informal interviews of organization members to gain an understanding of the culture of the nursing home organization. Four three-hour observations in each of three facilities, representing privately-held and not-for-profit organizations in urban, suburban, and rural locations yielded insights into the routine, recruitment, training, teamwork, activities, leadership, role-modeling, mentoring, staff and resident satisfaction, weekend staffing and activities, bureaucratic structure, and sharing of best practices. Discussion of each of these issues may provide a starting point for all those facilities that are contemplating significant culture change. If the objective is to have facilities truly embrace a new set of values, then the change begins with the owners and administrators of nursing homes who need to focus on building new relationships with all the stakeholders. In-depth interviews of organization members and six chief executive officers in long-term care in the Western New York area culminated the study with the development of a fifty-question survey for decision makers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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