What is continuity of care and how to get it right

Good continuity of care has been shown to improve patients’ health statuses, increase patient satisfaction, and decrease the use of additional healthcare services.

In this guide, we’ll take you through what continuity of care means, some of the challenges, and how you can make sure your facility is providing it.

There are three types of continuity

1. Informational continuity is about patient data and how it’s used to inform health decisions. It includes basic information on health conditions and care requirements but goes beyond the basics to include patients’ values, preferences and their social context. Accuracy is key.

Think of it as the blueprint that guides who the patient is, where they’ve come from, and how they’d like to be cared for.

2. Relational continuity is about the relationship between the patient and their care team. This is where familiarity is developed to create safe, ongoing relationships that carry the patient through their care. Building trust is key.

Think of it as the strand that connects pearls: it’s essential for holding the necklace together.

3. Management continuity is about the overall management of a patient’s care. This includes care planning and coordination of care and is especially important for those who have complex needs. Flexibility is key.

Think of it as a conductor guiding an orchestra, coordinating all the parts to perform a full score.

Being outstanding in all the areas above is challenging. But creating this kind of support system for each of your patients helps meet their needs in a person-centred way.

Below we’ll go through ways you can get continuity of care right in your facility.

What continuity of care looks like

Person-centred care

It’s essential to provide care with a person-centred approach. This means that accurate and up-to-date data is kept for everyone, which includes detailed information about your patients’ unique history, needs and preferences.

This gives healthcare professionals a guide from which to start building a relationship and ensures care is tailored to each patient.

It also means patients and their families are listened to, empowering them to feel more actively involved in their care.

You can do this by spending the time getting to know each of your patients and their family. Ask them about their life story, hobbies and accomplishments. Find out about their preferred daily routines and preferences.

Noticing the little things that each patient enjoys can go a long way in building rapport. It might be a favourite spot in the home that allows someone to watch the garden grow – take the patient there as often as possible.

Make sure to make this information accessible to all team members involved in their care.

Joint decision making

Encouraging patients and their loved ones to be involved in decision making can be empowering for everyone. It respects the patient’s dignity and independence and allows staff to be sure they’re caring for the patient in the most appropriate way.

Keeping patients’ care plans updated and reassessing their abilities regularly are essential to staying up to date with their changing needs.

It can be helpful to set a schedule for a care plan review by the team and with the patient and their family throughout the year to ensure services are meeting their needs.

Patient engagement

Having patients engaged in their care and active in the larger community of the facility has positive impacts on quality of life.

If a patient can contribute to shaping their daily routine or help choose what kind of social events take place, their sense of belonging will improve.

Care professionals can also ask families to tell them about their loved one’s past interests to get an idea of what activities they would like to do or see. This way, staff can collaborate with them to foster a community spirit.

Patient-driven activities are particularly successful. Things like board game nights, relaxation or self-care sessions, gardening mornings and craft classes can get everyone involved.

Smooth care transitions

When shifts or care providers change, or teams are shuffled, it’s crucial to ensure a smooth transition of care. This requires clear communication from all care staff, thorough notes and comprehensive handovers.

To keep a patient’s care journey consistent, every effort should be made to hand over as much detail as possible to the incoming staff. Having a standard handover procedure makes this process easier to follow and is much more effective.

Also important is communication with patients: telling them what to expect can decrease confusion and stress brought on by transitions. Keeping them informed of what will happen and when should be a part of your standard procedure.

Care team challenges

Providing continuity of care requires a healthy, knowledgeable and dedicated care team. They are the smiling faces when a family is struggling and a skilled hand when a patient needs help.

Their well-being is affected by long shifts, difficult conversations, physical demands and organizational challenges beyond their control.

Healthcare facilities often grapple with high turnover, staffing problems and burnout among staff. These challenges can seem insurmountable when trying to provide continuity of care.

How Florence can help

We help healthcare organizations support their care staff by providing a robust app that helps you fill shifts with the most consistent staff.

Florence allows administrators to put out a call for an available shift to their existing staff, prioritizing those who already know and care for your patients.

If they aren’t available, administrators can send the call out to our highly skilled and vetted network of 5,000+ nurses and personal support workers. They can accept the shift with a tap on their phone.

Favourite the staff you like and invite them back again and again. It’s easy, affordable and contributes greatly to continuity of care.

Find out about more of Florence’s features or book a no-obligation demo to see how we can help you.

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