Safety Culture in Long-Term Care Organizations: What Can Be Learned from the Commercial Aviation Industry?

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The safety of older adults requiring institutionalization due to their higher care needs is an important public health concern. This capstone paper defines the emerging concept of safety culture and provides a critical examination of the current gaps in the safety culture in Long-Term Care (LTC) organizations designed mostly for older adults who cannot live independently at home. Conceptualized as the manifestation of complex systems failure, falls are the most commonly reported adverse events and a great safety concern in LTC. An overview of a successful safety culture in the commercial aviation industry is explored for policy and practical implications. It is hypothesized that the lessons from the commercial aviation industry can be translated to improve the safety culture in LTC and ensure the safety of and prevent harm to older residents. This exploratory analysis reflects how an effective safety culture could contribute to optimize the safety of residents by the processes of care in place. Challenges in addressing resident safety in LTC on quality outcomes and the resident’s rights to autonomy and human dignity in LTC are also addressed.
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