In 2014, Niagara Health (NH) the organization shifted strategic priorities to create a path that would ensure high staff engagement and partnering with patients and families to create an experience of care that was trusted, safe and reproducible. Engaging change within the organization from the ground up where all staff and physicians could see themselves in quality improvements was a key factor to success. Enacting deep cultural change with over 4,500 staff and 1,000 physicians necessitated clear strategic vision, executive leadership focus and creating a platform for all to rally around. To achieve this transformational change, Unit Based Teams (UBTs) were introduced to promote the development of staff and physicians.
UBTs are a commonly used quality improvement tool in healthcare that empowers staff to act as change agents of their own units and shared accountability in the provision of high quality safe care. Since the implementation at NH, in four short years, 25 UBT’s teams have produced over 400 ideas across the organization. Ideas ranged from large transformational changes, such as revamping the palliative care process, to small ideas such as rearranging work units to improve flow and efficiency. While the quality improvement benefits were obvious to patients, families and the Board, the real focus for NH was the secondary benefits in staff engagement and satisfaction. NH has been able to directly correlate the relationship between high performing UBTs and higher overall staff engagement scores and has become powerful vehicle to implement wide sweeping cultural change within NH.