Updated: Aug 17, 2020
A tool to improve communication and support team building
Care huddles are a structured process for teams to communicate about client care, share information, and define what needs to be done on a daily/weekly basis to improve care. The aim of the care huddle is to present current information about care needs in a concise way that is easily understood. It is important to ensure that the whole team is involved, including allied health, clinicians and care staff and managers.
Improving care and communication with care huddles
The benefits of running frequent care huddles include:
Improved communication between the multidisciplinary team
Focus on the care requirements of the client
Opportunity for sharing of skills and process improvements among all team members
Integration of information from several sources outside the care team such as family members or other provider organisations
Encouraging staff to speak up about what is working and what is not working
Improving quality and safety processes in care delivery
Who should attend the care huddle?
In a care environment it is best to alternate the time of the care huddle, so all shifts patterns
are involved. Aim to conduct the care huddle, as a stand-up, at least a couple of times a week, if not daily.
It is essential that representatives from all care teams attend the care huddle on a rotating basis, this allows both the coordinators and management teams to hear feedback from care staff directly. Giving care staff a channel where they are heard is invaluable in building safety culture.
Allied health practitioners and other members of the multidisciplinary team can attend the care huddle on a rotating basis. Whilst this may be easy to achieve in a residential facility, in home care delivery it may require having care huddles a few times a week to reach all teams.
Try to ensure that people who work evenings and nights are included in the care huddle for example by scheduling a huddle during weekend shifts.
How to structure a care huddle
Let the team know the times of care huddles, in advance, post the monthly schedule on the care management software and in the office. Have the team stand around a whiteboard or use a virtual whiteboard for teams who do not share an office, or for people who work remotely.
Information relating to each client is discussed by the team with the aim of keeping the review short where possible and focusing on clients who have some complication in their condition and those clients where changes to care are required.
The care huddle can be divided into issues relating to complications in clinical condition changes in customer/family circumstances, requirements for specialist allied health input and other changes that your organisation as the care provider will need to make in order to accommodate the client requirements.
Keep it short and simple. Care huddles are designed to be an exchange of information. It is vital that staff are free to say what is working and what is not working. Encourage people to call out what has gone wrong and encourage open participation in the process.
Be aware of the need for privacy and confidentiality when sharing information. It is advisable to tell clients/participants that you have care huddles and you may want to get consent from clients as well, this sharing of information is usually included in the consent clients/ participants sign when they first receive supports.
There are no specific questions to ask during care huddle. The idea is to encourage the team to open and tell you what they think, so in many ways it is better to ask open-ended questions. Allow people to speak up and offer their view rather than feeling that they must answer a specific question.
Key messages about care huddles
Keep it short no more than 10 – 12 minutes to discuss a group of clients
Use visual information - write actions to be taken on a white board
Focus on safety and quality of care
It is about problem solving, all staff can contribute to the discussion on better care
Rotate the time to involve staff on all shift patterns
Can be facilitated by nurses or allied health staff and experienced care staff
Having managers participate in care huddles, opens channels of communication, and builds trust.