Make IOP program more exciting

Jazz up newsletters with games, graphics

The education manager of a Maine agency has spent about a year educating staff about what the term improving organizational performance (IOP) means.

Community Health and Counseling Services of Bangor, ME, has provided a 31¼2 hour introduction program, newsletters, and bulletin boards that highlight a different subject each week. The education was reinforced with post-tests.

"Then the staff educator June Fiske and I decided to help improve the retention of the learning with a series of newsletters after the program to reinforce it," says Mary Cahoon, RN, staff development and training coordinator with the agency, which serves an area roughly the size of Massachusetts with more than 400 home health employees in seven area offices.

Some of the newsletters described quality and improvement themes and traced IOP’s roots to W. Edwards Deming, the man who is considered the business guru of quality because of his work in revolutionizing Japan’s manufacturing industries after World War II. (See Improving Organizational Performance newsletter, pp. 81-82.)

"We’re finding in health care that because of the challenges we face in terms of trying to get better outcomes with fewer resources, we need to be more efficient and effective," Cahoon says.

IOP is about providing the best quality care to clients, she adds. "I think we’re all striving to look at what we can do better."

Cahoon found the newsletters to be a successful way to get this information across, particularly when they were made more interesting through colorful graphics and word games.

She wrote one newsletter with information on self esteem that she’d picked up at a conference. Other themes included tips on staff-patient boundaries, word search and matching games, and one on how to avoid negativity in the work place, which was written by another member of the staff, Val Spaulding, administrative secretary for health services and staff development. (See negativity newsletter and IOP games newsletter, inserted in this issue.)

Cahoon has encouraged employees to contribute to the newsletters whenever they’ve learned something new they’d like to show their colleagues.

The staff’s reaction to the IOP program has been very positive, Cahoon notes.

"They are changing their behavior based on what they heard in the program and what kind of feedback they’re getting from their supervisors," she says. "We’ve been doing it for over a year, and it’s been very effective."

[Mary Cahoon, RN, Staff Development and Training Coordinator, and June Fiske, RN, Staff Educator, Community Health and Counseling Services, can be reached at P.O. Box 425, Bangor, ME 04402, or by calling (207) 947-0366.

To contribute to Tips From the Field, you can call Melinda Young, editor of Homecare Education Management, at (864) 233-1163 or by fax at (864) 271-6163.]