Long term care needs improvement, but still little is known how quality improvement works in practice. A better, in-depth, understanding of the content and complexities of quality improvement is necessary because of the still limited theoretical and empirical grounds underlying its approach. This article draws on empirical material from Care for Better, a national quality improvement collaborative (QIC) for the long-term care sector in the Netherlands that took place from 2005 until 2012. Following a project on prevention of malnutrition, we analyzed the complex and ongoing processes of embedding improvements. The guiding question for our research was: what must be accomplished to enable and sustain improvements to occur in the everyday life of care organizations? In our analysis, we linked ethnographic findings to Actor Network Theory. We found that different kinds of work had to be done by both human and non-human actors to displace improvements into specific organizational situations. We conceptualized this work as the activity of translation. Moreover, the concept of inscription offers a perspective to reveal how improvements are made durable. Inscriptions are translations of values into texts, behavior or materialities that steer action in a specific way. We analyzed three different modes of inscription: gathering, materializing and training. We analyzed how one specific value, patient choice, became inscribed in different ways, configuring the actors in specific ways, with diverging consequences for how patient choice comes about.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.11.037, hdl.handle.net/1765/38403
Social Science & Medicine
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Stoopendaal, A.M.V, & Bal, R.A. (2013). Conferences, tablecloths and cupboards: How to understand the situatedness of quality improvements in long-term care. Social Science & Medicine, 78(1), 78–85. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.11.037