Sometimes in business — and particularly in the long-term care business — it can be useful to see things from a fresh, unexpected perspective.
On a scale of A to 17, with one being "Always" and red being "Parsnips," how would you rate your experience with customer satisfaction surveys? I'm sure most of you use them, though I haven't done a survey to back that up.
It was a simple question, one I've asked before in moments of extreme desperation. But this time, the answer went beyond merely helpful.
We're pretty full of ourselves. I'm talking about the collective "us," a nation of smug egocentrics, not about you and me.
I experienced many crushing disappointments growing up. A trespassing fairy with a tooth fetish didn't leave a dime under my pillow? Ernie and Bert aren't brothers? Affordable healthcare isn't a right? But the worst was realizing I was too old to be a prodigy. There's an age limit, apparently, or maybe it's height or weight. Regardless, I didn't qualify.
It wasn't expected. He just up and died. One day he was happily walking the Earth with the rest of us, the next he was gone. I barely knew him and don't know the back-story, just that it happened at home, where he lived alone, and that he left an accordion. I know that because it's mine now.
If you're weary of pursuing constant improvement and innovation in long-term care, take inspiration from Burger King.
My initial plan was to get up early to write this column. Refreshed and invigorated by a good night's sleep, I would leap out of bed with synapses alert and firing, and my inspired mind would cut through the task at hand like a freshly sharpened chain saw. And this time I would do it alone. Without coffee. Just to prove I could.
They say confession is good for the soul, so here goes. I'm having an affair — with my smartphone. What started with a few innocent conversations and some harmless texting quickly became an obsession, and the two of us now sleep together every night. I finally admitted this to my wife, but she says she already knew.
I've written a lot about ageism. About how people don't value the contributions of seniors. About how long-term care residents are invisible and forgotten. About kids these days, and why they don't respect their elders. As raving tangents go, I'm generally not bullish on the prospects for societal culture change. But after recently traveling to Washington, D.C., with 10 World War II veterans and their 14 caregivers, I might have to reconsider.
Pondering difficult end-of-life situations made me think, naturally, of Chevy Chase.
I'm sure you remember the old joke: "Why are nursing homes so noisy? Because we forget people actually live there." Oh sorry, that's not a joke. My mistake.
Every product or community goes through a life cycle that includes these stages: Development, Growth, Maturity, Saturation and Death. At Maturity, a product/community begins to become irrelevant, outdated and no longer competitive due to changing consumer demands.
We insomniacs know sleep is important. We've read all the studies, usually late at night when we can't sleep. We're very aware that insomnia is shortening our lives, and that our knowledge of that fact is worsening our insomnia.
Nursing facilities have always faced an array of obligations in order to provide services to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, which can sometimes seem burdensome in comparison with other providers. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as the healthcare reform law, is yet another example of how nursing facilities remain a target - the notable new obligation is the mandatory compliance program requirement. Adoption and implementation of compliance programs has previously been voluntary, although encouraged.
Food. I eat it, savor it, crave it and can't seem to live without it — and I suspect I'm not alone. Talk to any long-term care resident, and he or she will almost certainly list it as one of the most important factors in his or her dissatisfaction, right behind the low quality of the coffee and the bad attitude of that new aide who hands out meds like the recipients have leprosy.
The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on the unpleasant subject of workplace harassment. At issue is whether an employer is responsible when the bully is not strictly a boss.
A long-term care administrator I know had a little surprise for a prospective employee during a recent job interview. When the candidate began rhapsodizing about all the valuable time she'd accrued in the profession, he looked over his glasses and asked, "So, do you really have five years of experience, or just one year five times?"
It is often said that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but that is not totally true. You can teach an old dog new tricks; it's just difficult. In the case of this old dog, it took a near-death experience.
I've driven up and down Oregon's Columbia River Gorge roughly 486 times, give or take a thousand, for the past three decades.
Margaret was just one of those people. She always wore a smile and a bright yellow sweater, and staff and residents at her assisted living community called her "Sunshine."
I should have known right then that too much job-related stress was finally getting to me.
If blatant displays of disinterested hostility were an Olympic event, I know a nurse who would have taken the gold — and maybe the silver and bronze as well.
Shy people hate crosswalks. I know, because I'm a shy person — and I hate crosswalks.
Howard Gleckman, Urban Institute senior researcher