Improving Efficiency in Nursing Homes

Taking a page from my industrial/organizational psychology colleagues, I’ve been thinking about easy, inexpensive ways to improve efficiency in nursing homes. I recently read an article about the Starbucks company asking managers to put together a Mr. Potato Head doll as quickly as possible and then apply the experience to their work behind the coffee counter. This resulted in moving the supplies around for ease and faster turnaround of customers. I think about this when it takes me 15 minutes to photocopy a face sheet from a chart because the copy machine is located five floors away. Then I multiply that by the number of staff members needing to make a copy or two, and the outcome is this blog post.

Here are some simple ideas for improving efficiency (and reducing staff frustration) in nursing homes. I’m sure there are many more; please add your suggestions to the Comments section.

  • Have a fax machine at each nursing station for faxing and small copy jobs.
  • Set up all the file drawers the same way on each floor so there is no guessing where one might find an interim order sheet and other important forms.
  • Put frequently used forms in an easily accessible location. Move less frequently used forms to a secondary file drawer.
  • Color code the doctor’s communication books so that if Dr. Lewis is Lemon Yellow on the first floor, she’s Lemon Yellow on all the floors.
  • Color code the weight books, CNA logs, etc, or at least have them all be the same type of book on each floor.
  • Post important telephone numbers and procedural information in the same places at each nursing station.
  • Standardize the location of the charts, logbooks, etc.
  • Standardize the organization for the medication rooms, supply rooms, and linen closets.
  • Be sure to include the staff members in deciding how to organize each aspect of the facility. For example, the decisions about the linen closet should be made by a small committee including representatives of the CNAs, the people who deliver the linens, the Director of Housekeeping, any other departments involved with the linen room, and someone able to guide the discussion of the committee. It’s important for every department to be represented because moving certain items might make it easier for one group but harder for another. Having all the information will make for better organization, improved job satisfaction, and greater buy-in from the staff.

1 thought on “Improving Efficiency in Nursing Homes”

  1. Hi Eleanor,
    Urggh…it is so frustrating. Disorganization is one of my pet peeves. What you suggest is so basic, why is it so impossible? I have attempted to standardize the location of some books and supplies. How is it that the items are NEVER utilized yet they are NEVER where they are supposed to be and NO ONE has any clue where they are?


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