I am starting my tour of a home, and then the wheels fall off. Something is said or done, that raises a sense of self -doubt that this could be the forever place, for someone special.
This is a list of some of my pet peeves, and simple reflective fixes, that could make a difference.
The list of big fixes needs political action, which begins with you and I.
1. I don’t want to hear people called “feeders.”
This slang term really takes the dignity away from people who need assistance with a meal. Call it semantics, but imagine a world where we identified people based on their physical, or emotional difficulties, or impairments. Not acceptable. In the old days there used to be kidney shaped tables, where people sat waiting for their mouthful of food, as a staff member spun around in a swivel seat. If those tables still exist, the world is sad place.
2. I don’t want to hear that the management team is invisible.
Unless you are on the set of "Harry Potter," and are walking the halls in an invisible cloak; get visible! Make rounds, listen to the staff, and find out how the residents are feeling. Are they satisfied with the care? The quality of staff efforts will make or break the care standard. Praise and reward excellence! In financially strapped environments, this cannot equate to monetary gifts, so how about positive feedback for a job well done? Say thank you!
3. Please don’t discuss being short staffed anywhere, except behind closed doors with the team.
Imagine boarding an overseas airline flight, and the pilot announces he is working alone in the cockpit, as the rest of the crew called in sick. Feeling secure?
4. Please dress and act professionally.
I really don’t like any form of 'dress down days' for care staff, unless something truly fun is happening, and the residents are involved with the decision- making. I was in one home several years ago, and the "dress down" had deteriorated to tight jeans and Budweiser t-shirts. Fortunately, the Director of Care called a halt to this practice. There is business casual, and no business being there, casual. Dress like a professional, be treated like a professional. Speak directly to the Residents, great eye contact, respect, and listen attentively.
5. Lose the cell phones.
Imagine being reliant on someone for care, and the service is interrupted by one of numerous annoying ringtones. How horrible would it be if surgeons, or anesthetists engaged in this practice? I can just hear the OR conversations, " I see the liver lesion; oh can you excuse me a moment? Sure honey, I can pick up milk on the way home.”
6. If you are a family member please do not shout at the staff.
If there are care concerns, please address these with the charge nurse. In a population where the clientele is vulnerable, it is frightening when someone is shouting at anyone. Handling care concerns is best addressed through the chain of command. Shouting only relieves your stress for a moment, but lingers on in the minds of everyone else. It is also a form of workplace violence.
Actions to handle concerns need to be posted, and open door management policies, are the foundation of partnerships between families, and staff.
So where is all this going…
The listed issues can be dealt with, using education, training, morale boosters, consistency re expectations, and common sense. Positive Actions plant a seed, and grow a team, using leadership and caring, as the fertilizer.
But what of the bigger problems…
Funding needs to be directed, so care can be provided to meet the needs of the residents. In Long-Term Care today, folks are experiencing more complex diagnoses, and increased frailty. Add in growing numbers of individuals living with dementia, and those with mental health care needs, and yesterday's service model becomes obsolete.