Huddles for Hope

Home page Description: 
UHN KITE researchers implement a toolkit to help navigate challenges for long-term care teams.
Posted On: February 02, 2024
Image Caption: 
Alexandra Krassikova, Research Associate, and Dr. Katherine McGilton, Senior Scientist at KITE

Researchers from UHN’s KITE Research Institute have developed a toolkit to help implement nurse-practitioner-led team huddles in long-term care homes to improve staff outcomes and create a supportive environment for staff and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Staff at long-term care homes faced many unique challenges during the pandemic, including heightened stress, burnout, job dissatisfaction, complex care needs, and moral distress—ultimately compromising their ability to deliver quality care.  

The study team led by Dr. Katherine McGilton, Senior Scientist at KITE, set out to develop a specialized toolkit aimed at implementing nurse practitioner-led team huddles in long-term care homes to support staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Team huddles are brief, structured meetings between care team members that have been effective at providing a structured and supportive approach to enhancing communication and collaboration, and navigating pandemic-related challenges within clinical settings,” explains Alexandra Krassikova, Research Associate at KITE and first author of the study. “Therefore, we adapted these huddles to be led by nurse practitioners because of their multifaceted role in caring for long-term care residents as well as mentoring staff members.”  

The toolkit was developed in collaboration with stakeholders—including nurse practitioners, managers, and care staff—to ensure that the final product was not only effective but also relevant to the unique context of long-term care. The tool kit offered a structured yet adaptable framework for participants as it outlined the purpose and implementation strategies of huddles as well as scripts to guide meeting discussions. The toolkit can be accessed online here.  

“Ultimately, the toolkit was received positively as participants indicated an openness and willingness to implement huddles in their care homes,” says Dr. McGilton, senior author of this study. “This study highlights the importance of fostering effective communication, collaboration, and staff engagement in navigating the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

This work was supported by UHN Foundation, the Canadian Foundation for Health Improvement (CFHI), the Canadian Institute of Health Sciences (CIHR), the Canadian Center for Aging & Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), and the Walter & Maria Schroeder Institute for Brain Innovation and Recovery Foundation. Dr. Katherine McGilton is a Professor in the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto.  

Krassikova A, Wills A, Vellani S, Sidani S, Keatings M, Boscart VM, Bethell J, McGilton KS. Development and Evaluation of a Nurse Practitioner Huddles Toolkit for Long Term Care Homes. Can J Aging. 2023 Dec 4:1-9. doi: 10.1017/S0714980823000740. 

COVID-19 disproportionately affected long-term care homes around the world. Staff and residents faced overwhelming challenges and complex care needs leading to negative care experiences.