7 New Year's resolutions every long-term care operator should consider

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John O'Connor
John O'Connor

I realize that Christmas has not yet arrived, and Chanukah candles still need to be lit. But come next week, you'll be getting lots of advice on how to make good resolutions for 2015.

In the spirit of beating the herd, here's my shameless list. It's not based on science or best practices, but it is loaded with practical advice and common sense. By following these seven simple directives, you will pretty much assure that 365 days from now, you'll be looking back on a year that was both professionally and personally satisfying.

1.     Get better in the sweet spot

Is your organization really good at delivering rehab, or stroke, or ventilator care? As in world class or better-than-anyone-else-within-ambulance-driving-distance good? Excellent! Now get better. It will lead to more admissions while enhancing your organization's stellar reputation. And if you're pretty good but not quite great, now is the time to upgrade your service capabilities. It's a sound investment.

2.     Expand your service horizons

Should you be delivering hospice care but aren't? How about home care? Or some other service that would put or keep more heads in the beds? Feeling like you're too late to the party? Do nothing, and next year at this time you'll be yet another year behind.

3.     Find the right partners

Whether it's with the local health network, a rehab service provider or an institutional pharmacy, relationships are all about trust and a good fit. Do these folks mesh well with your organization? Are you all working toward the same goals? If so, great. If not, it might be time to find more like-minded partners.

4.     Decide what you really want to do

Is it your dream to be a part of a larger health network? Or do you value autonomy too much and see your organization as more of a specialized business? It will be extremely difficult — if not outright impossible — to serve both masters. Now is the time for you to decide what's best. Or you can wait and let chance and the competition make the choice for you.

5.     Commit to being a better boss

Are you making sure the people you manage are growing? Do you have their backs? Do they seem to be reasonably happy? If not, the problem might be you as much as it is them. Study after study has shown that more people leave their jobs because of bad bosses than bad pay. Don't be one of those people that former employees like to tell “you won't believe this …” stories about.

6.     Take care of yourself

You're the boss, or at least one of the bosses. But you can't do your job very well when you feel like dirt. You are already helping to manage a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Don't forget to manage something far more important: your health. If you are not already doing so, start getting some regular exercise. Make sure you eat mostly food your body can use. And get enough sleep. That means at least seven hours a night — not five with a promise to catch up later. Do these things and you'll function more effectively. More important, you'll feel better.

7.     Enjoy the journey

By the end of the year, you are going to be one year closer to your death than you are right now. If all you have to show for the next 12 months is a few more bucks and notable strides toward an early grave, it really won't have been much of a year, will it? Life is really the gift of a journey. Enjoy the trip.

John O'Connor is McKnight's Editorial Director.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.