One administrator's road to recovery

Ryan Haddock
Ryan Haddock

Sometimes, all it takes to transform the way we think is a simple change in perspective. For one man, that change came when he was forced to trade his position behind the administrator's desk for one in a hospital bed. While on the road to recovery in his own nursing home, he began to see the facility from a different perspective: the perspective of the residents--the people he was trying to help.

In April 2007, Philip DuBois' life changed forever. While on a trip to introduce his newly adopted son to his extended family, the van carrying DuBois and his family was struck head-on by another car. The crash tragically claimed the lives of his wife, his uncle, and his cousin. DuBois, two of his aunts, and his adopted son were left severely injured.

After two weeks in a North Carolina hospital, DuBois was given a choice as to where he would be transferred for rehabilitation. He chose Market Square Health Care Center; the facility in South Paris, Maine where he served as administrator. Over his two-and-a-half-month road to recovery, he had a number of realizations about the care his nursing home had been providing to its residents. One particular night, he was willing to endure hours of excruciating pain just to keep from engaging with an unpleasant charge nurse. This caused him to wonder how often other residents in the facility were enduring the same experience. The charge nurse in question was highly skilled at her position, but her attitude made her unapproachable.

"That showed me how much having the right attitude really matters — even more than having the right skills," said DuBois during a speaking engagement in Chattanooga, TN. "I can take attitude and teach skill; I can't take skill and teach attitude."

Another instance left him feeling dehumanized when a staff member openly talked about him like a task that needed to be completed rather than as a flesh-and-blood person that needed to be cared for. Realizations like this led Philip DuBois to rethink the care his facility was providing. No longer an administrator, DuBois now teaches classes in nursing home administration and shares his story in speaking engagements across the country.

Just as it did for Philip DuBois, the road to recovery for nursing homes begins with a change in perspective. To offer the level of care that seniors deserve, caregivers need to put themselves in the position of the residents they are caring for. They need to understand that the occupants of those beds are people, not simply tasks to be checked off a list.

"In a nursing home," DuBois states, "quality of care and quality of life are equal." If we really want to improve the quality of care and quality of life in our nursing homes, we have to embrace the idea that it's not enough to just care for residents; an effective caregiver also cares about them.

Ryan Haddock is the digital marketing specialist at Vikus Corporation.

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