Learning Circles Supporting Person-Centered Care

Project Lead

Sharla King, Director, Health Sciences Education and Research Commons, University of Alberta.

Dr. Sharla King, University of Alberta, Health Sciences Education and Research Commons

In collaboration with AgeCare Sagewood, Bethany Care CollegeSide, Capital Care Kipnes, Excel Society Balwin Villa and Grand Manor, Lifestyle Options Whitemud , St Michael’s Health Group Vegreville Manor and the Wing Kei Care Centre.


Continuing care staff too often feel time spent on traditional staff training is not useful. In-service training does not always translate well into actual practice and information is often not available when it’s needed in urgent situations. As a result staff motivation and managerial support for training is low.

This project established and evaluated Learning Circles to support workplace learning and implementation of clinical practice changes with regulated and unregulated direct care providers in continuing care facilities.

Project Summary

Learning Circles bring practitioners together in structured, collaborative, workplace learning groups that identify and address practice priorities.

This project explored Learning Circles as a collaborative learning model to enhance resident care. It involved enhancing the pilot in existing sites, expanding to new sites and developing an online toolkit to support implementation, evaluation and sustainability.

The findings were that Learning Circles allow frontline care providers to engage in self-directed reflection on practice and structured experiential learning. LCs were considered complementary to traditional education and provided a more formal valuing of frontline staffs’ knowledge and perspectives, as well as a better integration of these perspectives into practice.


A Learning Circle Toolkit for facilitators, site administration, management and frontline staff to ensure the systematic documentation of required knowledge, structures and resources for planning, implementing, evaluating and sustaining learning circles, both for single discipline and inter-professional learning circles.

Impact and Ultimate Success

The continuing care sites implementing Learning Circles report greater collaboration and engaged teams able to work together on issues specific to their site.

Increasing the provision of person-centred care is essential to both the quality of care and the quality of life. At the core of person-centred care is providing individualized care based on the recipient’s unique needs and preferences. This type of care can only be provided if frontline staff and other caregivers have access to individualized information.

Learning Circles can serve as a key process and systematic structure to share this information and additional care strategies. Developing ‘in situ’ educational structures and processes for caregivers are critical to support seniors’ health and wellness in any environment.

The Learning Circles toolkit is housed on the Institute for Continuing Care Education and Research (ICCER) site and can be accessed here