Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the challenges that health care organizations face in nurturing and sustaining cultures that ensure the delivery of continually improving, high quality and compassionate care for patients and other service users.
Design/methodology/approach: Based on an extensive review of the literature, we examine the current and very challenging context of health care and highlight the core cultural elements needed to enable health care organizations to respond effectively to the challenges identified.
Findings: The role of leadership is found to be critical for nurturing high quality care cultures. In particular, we focus on the construct of collective leadership and examine how this type of leadership style ensures that all staff take responsibility for ensuring high quality care for patients.
Research implications: The paper implicitly identifies a number of important avenues for future research into the effectiveness of healthcare organizations including the role of collective leadership on team and organizational processes, and safety and quality related outcomes.
Practical implications: Climates for quality and safety can be accomplished by the development of strategies that ensure leaders, leadership skills and leadership cultures are appropriate to meet the challenges health care organizations face in delivering continually improving, high quality, safe and compassionate patient care.
Social implications: The practical recommendations outlined in the paper can be translated into everyday practice in healthcare organizations, which in turn, will ultimately benefit patients and other service users.
Originality: This paper provides a comprehensive integration of research findings on how to foster quality and safety climates in healthcare organizations, synthesizing insights from academic literature, practitioner reports and policy documents to propose clear, timely and much needed practical guidelines for healthcare organizations both nationally and internationally.