The Resident Assessment Instrument-Minimum Data Set (RAI/MDS) is an interdisciplinary standardized process that informs care plan development in nursing homes. This standardized process has failed to consistently result in individualized care planning, which may suggest problems with content and planning integrity. We examined the decision making and care practices of personal support workers (PSWs) in relation to the RAI/MDS standardized process.
This qualitative study utilized focus groups and semi-structured interviews with PSWs (n = 26) and supervisors (n = 9) in two nursing homes in central Canada.
PSWs evidenced unique occupational contributions to assessment via proximal familiarity and biographical information as well as to individualizing care by empathetically linking their own bodily experiences and forging bonds of fictive kinship with residents. These contributions were neither captured by RAI/MDS categories nor relayed to the interdisciplinary team. Causal factors for PSW exclusion included computerized records, low status, and poor interprofessional collaboration. Intraprofessional collaboration by PSWs aimed to compensate for exclusion and to individualize care.
Exclusive institutional reliance on the RAI/MDS undermines quality care because it fails to capture residents' preferences and excludes input by PSWs. Recommendations include incorporating PSW knowledge in care planning and documentation and examining PSWs' nascent occupational identity and their role as interprofessional brokers in long-term care.