Data sharing between home care professionals: a feasibility study using the RAI Home Care instrument
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BACKGROUND: Across Ontario, home care professionals collect standardized information on each client using the Resident Assessment for Home Care (RAI-HC). However, this information is not consistently shared with those professionals who provide services in the client's home. In this pilot study, we examined the feasibility of sharing data, from the RAI-HC, between care coordinators and service providers. METHODS: All participants were involved in a one-day training session on the RAI-HC. The care coordinators shared specific outputs from the RAI-HC, including the embedded health index scales, with their contracted physiotherapy and occupational therapy service providers. Two focus groups were held, one with care coordinators (n = 4) and one with contracted service providers (n = 6). They were asked for their opinions on the positive aspects of the project and areas for improvement. RESULTS: The focus groups revealed a number of positive outcomes related to the project including the use of a falls prevention brochure and an increased level of communication between professionals. The participants also cited multiple areas for improvement related to data sharing (e.g., time constraints, data being sent in a timely fashion) and to their standard practices in the community (e.g., busy workloads, difficulties in data sharing, duplication of assessments between professionals). CONCLUSIONS: Home care professionals were able to share select pieces of information generated from the RAI-HC system and this project enhanced the level of communication between the two groups of professionals. However, a single information session was not adequate training for the rehabilitation professionals, who do not use the RAI-HC as part of normal practice. Better education, ongoing support and timely access to the RAI-HC data are some ways to improve the usefulness of this information for busy home care providers.