Opinion

New normal to grasp

New normal to grasp

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Get your life back! Do what you love again! Say goodbye to pain, and hello to a vibrant, ache-free existence!

APM paradise found

APM paradise found

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Everyone's talking about Alternative Payment Models (APMs) these days. Providers. Consultants. Cab drivers. Baristas. Everyone.

Reader Poll: Who is your best friend at work?

"My boss is my best friend at work. She's given me an opportunity to travel and to seek out continuing education opportunities. I can ask her questions at any time, like, 'Can you explain this regulation?' I really see her as a friend and mentor."

 Saved by the bad apples

Saved by the bad apples

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Personal phone technology is creating headaches for long-term care facilities, as a few dumb staff with the judgment and moral clarity of hamsters continue to ruin it for the rest of us.

Reader Poll: How do you handle conflict between staff members?

Reader Poll: How do you handle conflict between staff members?

"We get out the ruler. We're kidding! We try to get them to talk to each other and listen to each other. You have to meet them where they are. The last thing they want us to do is bring God into it, although some of them experience God through us."

A day at the opera?

A day at the opera?

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We all have guilty pleasures — things we secretly enjoy but don't have the courage to admit to long-term care colleagues at stand-up.

Reader Poll: What is the best thing your manager does to help you in your job?

"He (Board Chairman of the Reformed Church Home Reed Feuster) encourages me. He always makes a point to thank us and offer help. It's kind of refreshing to get outside support. At the board level, it's easy to say just what's wrong or what you don't like."

Where kindness is king

Where kindness is king

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As pesky questions about the future of healthcare swirl, let's give thanks for the one, and maybe only, inviolate cog in the long-term care machinery that's beyond the power of politicians to regulate or obliterate — kindness.

Reader Poll: What do you do either before or after you take vacation to really help yourself?

"A week before, I am focused on tying up loose ends, and I delegate things I know are coming so when I get back, they'll be finished. It clears my mind before I leave, so nothing is pressing."

Where the rubber meets the road

Where the rubber meets the road

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I've been thinking a lot about tires today. Mostly because I can. And because my brain hurts from pondering possible PPS changes, Ultra-High therapy billing, and whether peptide-hydrogel biomaterial helps heal chronic wounds.

Reader Poll: What's your favorite item on your desk or in your office?

"Pictures of my grandchildren, just because I can look at them when the rest of the world is in chaos. They're my port in the storm."

Not getting your due — and liking it

Not getting your due — and liking it

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It's just not fair. You're the one who sat at that traffic light forever, and then when it finally changed, some idiot in the lane beside roared through first, without even slowing down.

Reader Poll: What would you tell your younger self if you had the chance?

"Take everything in stride. Work through the difficult times and enjoy the good ones. You stress about too much stuff you can't fix."

The wisdom of age

The wisdom of age

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It's like a dash of smelling salts under the nose. Talking to actual long-term care residents always affects me like that: an abrupt awakening from the fog and unconsciousness of stress, distraction and a barrage of daily trivialities.

Reader Poll: What are your tools for staying organized?

"I have the Yellow Stickies app. If I'm signed up for a McKnight's webinar, I put it there so I can stay organized. It's all in columns so I can see what I need. I can see when I need to recheck, or have a sales meeting."

Armed, dangerous

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Oh great. He's going to talk about sarcasm. Perfect.

Reader Poll: What do you wish people knew about being a long-term care nurse?

"Most people have no understanding of how long-term care nurses are as good as acute-care nurses. They are better assessors and have skills because physicians aren't at our beck and call. We have to have a better ability to triage."

Signs of the season

Signs of the season

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Once again, our planet completed its 584-trillion-mile encirclement of the sun and safely brought us back to October/November and two things that matter most — LTC conventions and baseball.

Reader Poll: What non-clinical skill is most important in your daily work?

"Conflict resolution would be a big one. I have 300 employees and they don't always get along. It really depends on the situation, but it's usually employee to employee."

The power of praise

The power of praise

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Here's one thing baseball has taught me about long-term care—all financial problems would disappear if we priced our services like ballpark beer. But there's another lesson to be learned.

Reader Poll: What's the best part of your day?

"It is the unexpected parts of my day that are sometimes my favorite. I love walking through our centers and hearing residents answer the question of what life at Wesley Woods is like."

The magic of music

The magic of music

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Corn loves classical music. It's all ears for the stuff.

Shutting out the noise

Shutting out the noise

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As an occasionally obsessive hiker navigating the meandering trail of my existence, I'm constantly rediscovering it's a metaphor for everything — from life in general to long-term care.

Reader Poll: "What was your first job, and what did it teach you?

"My first job going into this particular field was an administrator-in-training, where I would come in and work in a nursing home."

The LTC Zen master

The LTC Zen master

It was just meaningless workplace chatter, signifying nothing.

Reader Poll: "What would you like to accomplish in the next decade?"

"In the next decade it does not appear that a cure for Alzheimer's disease will be found."

Reader Poll: What other department would you like to try working in for a day?

"Dining services. It's a big component that residents focus on. It would be fun to cook in the kitchen and talk to the seniors in the dining room and see their reactions."

Waiting for a pellet

Waiting for a pellet

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From now on when I ponder the future of long-term care, I'll think about Uncle Jimmy.

Reader Poll: How do you define/promote innovation in long-term care?

"It's using technology to allow residents to live independently. The future of aging allows us to look for more opportunities for seniors to age in place, and to maintain independence and dignity."

Still a perfect couple

Still a perfect couple

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Hard as it seems to believe after 17 years of vocationally wedded bliss, there was a time when long-term care and I weren't together. It's sobering to consider.

Reader Poll: What's something you wish people outside of the industry knew about long-term care?

"I think the thing I would like folks to know is there's always a battle to get rid of the stereotypes. The people I work with are very intent on putting their heart and care into what they do. People need to come and see that."

Reaction management

Reaction management

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So, how should I react to what that back-stabbing little blankety-blank (fake name redacted for HIPAA compliance) said or did to me?

Reader Poll: What advice do you give to new employees?

"I tell every new associate, whether they're changing linens, washing dishes, providing nursing care or working in one of our leadership positions: You are an advocate and a professional. Represent yourself, our community and senior living with pride."

Remain in your lane

Remain in your lane

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Like many respectable professions, long-term care has plenty of highly competitive, aggressive people. Brave scientists who sedate, tag and study them in the wild have labeled them Type A personalities.

Reader poll: What have you stopped doing since starting in long-term care?

"I no longer get old. I work with people 80, 90, 100 years old that are young at heart. It teaches you that you can have a vibrant and young perspective no matter what your age."

Happy Now Years

Happy Now Years

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It's suddenly 2016, and I'm uneasy. Perhaps you know that vague apprehension. Like maybe you left your newly stocked phosphorescent med cart unlocked in the parking lot overnight, or ran off to work with the hot iron resting face down on a pile of tinder-dry copies of McKnight's.

Reader poll: What do you wear to work, and why?

"Exactly what I'm wearing now [a tie, dress shirt, black pants]. I wear this every day except Friday, which is casual."

The Robot Alternative

The Robot Alternative

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Have you ever had some well-meaning someone give you a gift that turns out to be more like a job?

Reader Poll: What do you wish you could do at work for the first time?

"Probably go out with my patients for a simple thing like eating outside or going to a restaurant they like. We try to give them all these choices. They might want a special breakfast, but we have 275 patients, and if we give everyone their own breakfast, nobody would get it on time. I'd probably take one or two at a time if they wanted to go out. That's what I'd want."

The invisible heroes

The invisible heroes

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They were seniors, so I suppose they were used to being invisible. They were also veterans — a double-whammy. Add in the fact that most were from long-term care settings, and you have the perfect storm. These 13 relics of World War II, Korea and Vietnam were almost asking to be ignored.

Reader Poll: What non-work project are you working on in your spare time?

"One of my most favorite projects to work on when I'm not at work creating extraordinary experiences for our elders is gardening. I have perennials around my entire home and garage as well as two corner gardens that I spend numerous hours from spring until snow flies tending to."

Don't forget to look up

Don't forget to look up

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For long-term care providers who usually only check the sky to see if it's falling, the recent harvest supermoon lunar eclipse brought the chance for a fresh perspective.

Reader Poll: What hidden talent is the most valuable in your department?

McKnight's readers sound off on what"hidden talent they value most.

Conventional wisdom

Conventional wisdom

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It's long-term care convention season again. You can feel it in the air. Strange, troublesome urges start to take over.

Reader Poll: What is your biggest technology-related challenge?

Answers compiled during the Long-Term and Post-Acute Care (LTPAC) Health IT Summit in Baltimore.

Zen gardening for LTC

Zen gardening for LTC

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Here's my naïve and rather radical gardening philosophy — it should be an act of joy, not stress or fear. But another striving human I know, along with a few people I've met in long-term care, seems to have a hard time embracing that viewpoint.

Whatcha gonna do?

Whatcha gonna do?

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Adversity, that irrepressible rascal. We're far too familiar with it in long-term care.

The simple things

The simple things

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In both life and long-term care, we tend to distrust the simple solutions.

Passion over page views

Passion over page views

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I love technology. I'm using some right now. It's technology, after all, that translates brain waves and finger twitches and makes it possible for me to tell you how much I love technology. Though my advancing age makes our relationship adversarial at times, I'm definitely a fan.

When silence is golden

When silence is golden

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We don't have crickets in long-term care, but we should. They're very soothing insects. Experts on Crickipedia maintain that they actually emit four different sounds — a calling song, an aggressive song, a courting song and a copulatory song. Most human communication fits into those categories as well.