• collaboration;
  • co-operative inquiry;
  • nursing;
  • older people;
  • quality improvement

zeitz k., kitson a., gibb h., bagley e., chester m., davy c., frankham j., guthrie s., roney f. & shanks a. (2010) Working together to improve the care of older people: a new framework for collaboration. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(1), 43–55.


Aim.  This paper is a report of a study identifying the care issues experienced by older people in the acute setting that could be improved through a collaborative approach to action.

Background.  Actively involving consumers in the governance of healthcare organizations is viewed positively, although there is less agreement on how to do this. Co-operative inquiry is a useful approach to involve consumers and clinicians in structured dialogue about understanding and changing care, whereas traditional quality improvement methodologies are often singular in their dimensions of change.

Method.  Using a co-operative inquiry approach, five workshops were facilitated over a 4-month period in 2008 with four volunteer older people, four clinicians and three facilitators (n = 11). All participants were actively involved in generating ideas and actions using a range of facilitation techniques and data collection methods.

Findings.  There was increased awareness, understanding and acceptance of clinicians’ and consumers’ experiences and expectations of care. The complexity behind changing so-called simple care (providing warm drinks, appetizing food), which were the key concerns for consumers, relied on the active management and broader transformation of the system, including teamwork, communication processes and organizational and individual values and beliefs.

Conclusion.  Consumers and clinicians put different emphasis on perspectives related to improving care of older people in the acute hospital setting. The disconnect between what consumers viewed as ‘simple’ organizational behaviours to change and what the clinicians viewed as complex, led to a recognition that the approach to organizational change needs to be reconceptualized.