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NOK 12 million to improve safety in primary care

​Professor Siri Wiig of the Department of Health Studies has been awarded funding of NOK 12 million by the Research Council of Norway. Her project aims to boost the level of expertise relating to quality and safety within primary care.

Siri Wiig “There is an urgent need to make leaders better able to work systematically on quality and safety”, says Siri Wiig. (Photo: Asbjørn Jensen/UiS)

Would you be happy for your parents to be patients in the primary health service if the managers of the service did not possess sufficient expertise and the right tools to guarantee their safety?

According to Professor Siri Wiig and her research team, reports provided to the Storting (Norwegian parliament) concerning patient safety and the primary health service of the future demonstrate that such challenges are often the case in connection with Norwegian nursing homes and home nursing care.

“There is an urgent need to make leaders better able to work systematically on quality and safety”, says Wiig.

The project entitled Improving quality and safety in primary care aims to do something about this situation. 

No overview

There are wide variations in the way in which the specialist health service, i.e. hospitals and the primary health service (nursing homes and home nursing services), map risks and undesirable events. While the specialist health service has established national reporting systems for undesirable events, there is no equivalent system in the primary health service.

This means that there is no complete overview of risk factors and how potentially dangerous situations arise. Risk factors at home and at a nursing home may be different from those at a hospital. The elderly are living longer at home than they did previously and receiving more treatment in their own home. Carpets, stairs, malnutrition and medication are amongst the factors which can create dangerous situations.

Mapping is an important tool, and this is one aspect that the project will look at more closely. Researchers will test a quality and safety tool in collaboration with managers within the primary health service. They will then measure whether this tool has any effect on improvements in knowledge, attitudes and practice.  

Norway and the Netherlands

The project will be carried out in four nursing homes and four municipal home services in selected Norwegian municipalities.

“The principal aim of the study is to develop management skills relating to quality and safety amongst managers within the primary health service and thereby support their work to improve the service”, explains Wiig.

“The project will contribute to the training of managers and give them the tools and skills they need. The point is that they should reflect on the issue of safety and quality, and adopt a systematic approach to the issue within their respective organisations”, claims Wiig.

The results from Norway will be compared with those from a corresponding study in the Netherlands.

“For many years, the Netherlands has had a systematic approach to quality and safety within these types of health service. They are also good at involving users. It will be exciting to see how much of an effect the different working environments for managers in Norway and the Netherlands have on work relating to quality and safety”, said Wiig.

Three new posts

The project has a budget of NOK 22.75 million, of which NOK 12 million comes from the Research Council of Norway. The four-year project will start on 1 October.

The project will be led by the University of Stavanger. The project group will include a post-doctoral position, a research fellowship and a user representative, in addition to the UiS researchers Associate Professor Marianne Storm and Professor Karina Aase. Associate Professor Hester van de Bovenkamp and Professor Roland Bal from ERASMUS University in the Netherlands will participate.

The municipal authorities of Songdalen and Førde, the Norwegian Directorate of Health via the Health and services ombudsman in Vestfold and ERASMUS University in the Netherlands are partners.

Text: Benedicte Pentz

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