First Results of the Advice Seeking Networks Study Published

Advice seeking network between organizations in the long term care sector in Canada

Advice seeking network between organizations in the long term care sector in Canada

We are pleased to announce the publication of our first research paper on the results of the Advice Seeking Networks in Long Term Care study. Published in the journal Implementation Science, the paper provides an overview of the results of the survey. The survey was distributed to senior leaders in 958 long term care (LTC) facilities across Western, Atlantic, and Northern Canada. It asked each senior leader to identify other individuals and institutions they seek advice from about care practices.

Survey respondents provided the names of both individuals and LTC facilities that acted as sources of advice and models for improving resident care. Led by TREC researcher Dr Jim Dearing of Michigan State University, the researchers constructed maps of personal networks composed of individuals who are seekers and/or sources of advice, and organizational networks composed of LTC facilities that serve as models of care in the sector.

Key findings reported in the paper:

  • There is one large network for all of Canada. A single, informal advice-seeking network—rather than multiple fragmented networks—appears to span the country on the topic of LTC quality improvement. (See the map above illustrating the advice network between organizations)
  • Facility leaders often seek advice from those closest to them. Geographic proximity plays a big role in determining who seeks advice from whom. For example, less than 4 percent of all advice relationships at the personal and organizational levels crossed provincial or territorial boundaries. Most survey respondents showed a clear preference for seeking advice from colleagues and facilities within their province, and often, within their health authority, region, or zone.
  • 43% of sources of advice work outside the nursing home setting. A substantial proportion of the individuals nominated as sources of advice in the personal network (43%) were those who do not work within a LTC facility but rather work for a provincial health authority or ministry, or at the corporate level of a chain of LTC facilities.

Taken together, these and other findings from the paper will help inform the design of future strategies to disseminate best practices throughout the LTC homes in Canada. The research team is now working on more publications that summarize the study’s findings.

Future Work

In future publications we will explore the role of public policy in shaping the advice networks in Maritime Canada. We are also looking to identify the effect of leaders’ work experience on the advice networks, and trace the relationship between a facility’s position in the network and characteristics of its organizational context, such as leadership and job satisfaction.