Empowering Health Care Aides in Long Term Care

Project Lead:

Dr. Sienna Caspar, Therapeutic Recreation, University of Lethbridge (Formerly of Bethany Care Society)

Dr. Sienna Caspar, University of Lethbridge


Health care aides (HCAs) provide almost all direct care to long term care residents.  The problem is, that they often lack access to documented resident care information, and do not have a formal process for transferring their knowledge to the rest of the health care team.  This study used the Responsive Leadership Intervention (RLI) as a tool to help improve information exchange among team members.   Ultimately, this new system will improve the quality of care of seniors living in long term care facilities, and will also contribute to improved quality of work-life in residential care settings for HCAs.

Project Summary

In this project, team leaders at Bethany Care and Capital Care sites received responsive leadership training and then introduced daily care-team huddles onto their practice routines to improve communication and collaborative decision making with health care aides (HCAs).  The aim of this project was to: 1) increase supportive leadership practices by team leaders, 2) increase HCAs’ self-determination, and 3) increase HCAs’ perceived ability to provide person-centred care.

Evaluation of this intervention from two control sites and two intervention sites revealed that the Responsive Leadership Intervention improved responsiveness and supportive leadership practices, while also improving health care aide individualized care to residents.


As a result of the responsive leadership intervention and the implementation of daily care team huddles, team leaders improved their supportive leadership practices, which resulted in increased collaborative decision making with the HCAs regarding resident care issues and concerns.  This was associated with increases in staffs’ perceptions of their ability to provide person-centred care, and ultimately, in their ability to achieve greater outcomes for residents.  Deliverables were:

  1. Huddle process and guidelines
  2. A Responsive Leadership Intervention workshop for Covenant staff, held in 2017.

Impact and Ultimate Success

The RLI resulted in improvements in resident-care information exchange, collaboration, team work, and feedback between team leaders and HCAs. Each of these are essential to the health and wellness of seniors living in residential care homes.  The ultimate success of this journey would be that all team leaders receive responsive leadership training and that daily care-team huddles are implemented as a standard care practice in residential care settings.