Measuring administrators' and direct care workers' perceptions of the safety culture in assisted living facilities

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2012 Aug;38(8):375-82. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(12)38048-3.


Background: Further understanding of patient safety in health care is still needed. This is particularly evident in long term care settings, where relatively little information exists. Safety culture has emerged as a critical component of efforts to improve patient safety; it is strongly associated with iniatatives that influence patient safety and quality of care. The safety culture of a large sample of assisted living (AL) facilities was examined.

Methods: The Nursing Home Survey on Patient Safety Culture (NHPSC) was modified and used to examine safety culture. A random sample of AL settings from all 50 states was selected to participate. Respondents were AL administrators and direct care workers (DCWs) who completed the modified safety culture survey. The applied properties of the instrument are examined. A summary score for administrators and DCWs for each NHPSC item is also presented. These summary scores have a range from 0 to 100, with low scores representing a poor safety culture (and vice versa).

Results: Information was received from 572 administrators (response rate = 57%) and 3,620 DCWs (response rate = 51%). The scores, using the 0-100 scale, fell into the 48-72 range for administrators and the 40-68 range for DCWs. Many of the scores were similar to those previously found in nursing homes.

Conclusions: AL is recognized as one of the fastest-growing institutional components of the long term care industry. The modified NHPSC performed well. Some areas of safety culture were perceived less favorably than in nursing homes. As such, some further attention to safety culture in AL is warranted. This study provides a first step toward assessing safety culture in this underexamined setting.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Assisted Living Facilities / organization & administration*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Homes for the Aged / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Homes / organization & administration*
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Patient Safety*
  • United States