Investing in distraction

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

I'm concerned that some nursing home administrators don't seem to have enough to do. You would think that with survey and census and deer crashing through windows, they'd be able to keep their focus laser-like on the job at hand. But apparently not.

As a result, I found myself trapped in a car with one of them earlier this week. We were headed, at an unsafe speed, if you ask me, toward a Ronald McDonald House in Portland, OR. The administrator, whom I'll call The Administrator, had worked with 10 other facilities to raise money and buy food and gifts for the children and families at the charity's two local locations.

Our first stop on this cold and windy day was a Spaghetti Factory parking lot, where about a dozen cars pulled in soon after, each filled to the roof with gift bags and facility staff. By the time we all gathered, there were probably 50 people there, including other administrators, employees and even the company CEO. After dividing the stash and making assignments, it was off again to make personal deliveries.

Over at the Ronald McDonald House/West, The Administrator and her crew of elves filled an elevator with the treasure trove, and piled the mountain of gifts next to a wall covered with pictures of the sick children currently staying there. It was a moving sight, to say the least, and I think I might even have seen a tear or two.

The Administrator downplays her contribution to this whole fantastic experience, but what she did was critical. Besides having the idea in the first place, she motivated dozens of busy colleagues, and even some residents, to help out and contribute. The group raised more than $5,000. This isn't the first year they've done this, but it was easily the most successful.

And there's one more factor to consider. The Administrator has the good fortune of working for a long-term care company that actively encourages its people to donate time and money whenever possible. Staff involvement like this is considered an investment, not a distraction. By lifting their eyes from the hectic tasks at hand to help others, the company believes its employees will stay connected to deeper motivations, and that everyone wins when that happens. On Christmas morning, some children over at the Ronald McDonald House will probably agree.

On the way back in the car, my tongue-in-cheek fears about The Administrator's focus on her actual job were quickly set to rest. She maintained a constant stream of resident-related conversation with the care coordinator and bookkeeper in the back seat. She even had to be reminded not to check RUG scores on her iPhone while driving.

Is there really an app for that?

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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.

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