Efective communication is at the core of quality improvement efforts. This study identified and explored the written guidelines for what, how, and when nurses and unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP) are expected to communicate regarding residents' status and care needs. Documents from six nursing homes were analyzed for this descriptive study, from which two primary themes emerged. First, extensive and explicit guidelines were identified for UAP-to-nurse communication, in comparison to few corresponding guidelines for nurses. Second, written guidelines for UAP communication were identified in multiple documents, with variations across sites in the situations requiring communication, the level of detail, and the format for how UAP-to-nurse communication should occur (i.e., verbal, written). This study raises the issue of the extent to which explicit organizational structures and written guidelines support and reinforce nurses' scope of practice, the translation of UAP role expectations into actual practice, and the effectiveness of communication to promote quality care.
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