Ask the nursing expert: keeping your cool during a nursing home emergency

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Ask the nursing expert
Ask the nursing expert

When it comes to the day-to-day workings in my facility, I do pretty well, but once a “disaster” hits, I lose my “cool and collected” demeanor. I know my staff looks to me when a crisis develops. Can you give me some advice on how to remain calm during these situations?

Experience itself will help you prepare for an ongoing crisis in the director of nursing role. As I have always said, be sure to develop a talented and committed team around you that can provide assistance when you need it. Then be sure to use it.

Some crises can be anticipated and prepared for, such as a family that is always complaining about care being provided. Instead of complaining back at them and spending time being defensive, I suggest trying to develop a relationship with them that they feel they can trust.

The more we act defensively or uninterested, the more a family member is going to challenge you. Perhaps you could also attend a workshop or two on managing crisis situations and practice what you learn. There are numerous opportunities for these, both inside and outside of long-term care, though I recommend you find something put on by a group either in, or extremely familiar with, the long-term care environment.

Once a crisis is resolved, always  remember to spend some time looking back over it. Ask yourself what you could have done differently to obtain a better outcome. Also, review what you did to determine what worked well.

Blaming negative outcomes on others never helps to grow professionally. As a nursing leader, accept responsibility and continue to strive to be an efficient role model for the staff around you. You will know you are managing a crisis well by the look in the eyes of your staff!