Like Stonehenge or the concept of truth, I'm an ancient relic of another time, so I clearly remember my family's first primitive television.
Remember those innocent days when long-term care was hopelessly tech-phobic, and EHR was just a quick way to tell 911 your facility was under attack by an Emerging Hostile Rodent?
"In my immediate family, all of the women work in long-term care. All three of us, as well as my younger sister, who works as a senior operations manager for Cambridge Corporation in Southern California, are with different companies now. We are loving what we do! Our mom [center] is an inspiration for all three of us."
Have you ever been a member of a Toxic Team in long-term care? Where you're always watching your back, thinking you're a martyr, wondering what so-and-so meant when he or she said this or that, feeling defeated before you start, and endlessly on the bubble?
"At Levindale, to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, the eight-day Festival of Lights, we light the menorah, community choirs sing, and we have intergenerational programs. Our residents show off their talents by playing Chanukah songs on the piano or playing the bells in the Bell Tones choir. Of course, we also have a Chanukah party with potato latkes (pancakes), reminiscing and more singing!"
It's your job to think about the future, so we definitely need to talk about drones in long-term care. Not the one who delivered that boring 100-slide PowerPoint at your last facility all-staff. I mean the kind that will soon fill the skies of the future like a swarm of ravenous grasshoppers.
"We try to educate staff. Every morning I come up with a topic for the day, something current. And after we discuss that, we go straight into the meeting. "
Well, it looks like I'll be seeing some of you sooner than expected. A new study, reported by McKnight's, suggests that the average American has a 60% greater risk of someday needing skilled nursing care than previously thought.
"Usually I'll go over my planner and peruse that. I just got into bullet journaling. The idea is that if you write something down and you didn't do it, is it worth it to move it forward to the next month or should you just forget it?"
Here's a hypothetical for you. Let's say you're a busy nurse in a long-term care setting, and your supervisor wanders up and says, "Mrs. Jacobs in Room 203 really wants a cup of coffee. Could you take one to her?"
Get your life back! Do what you love again! Say goodbye to pain, and hello to a vibrant, ache-free existence!
Everyone's talking about Alternative Payment Models (APMs) these days. Providers. Consultants. Cab drivers. Baristas. Everyone.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"Take everything in stride. Work through the difficult times and enjoy the good ones. You stress about too much stuff you can't fix."
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.
"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."
Oh great. He's going to talk about sarcasm. Perfect.
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"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."
Corn loves classical music. It's all ears for the stuff.
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.
"My first job going into this particular field was an administrator-in-training, where I would come in and work in a nursing home."
It was just meaningless workplace chatter, signifying nothing.
"In the next decade it does not appear that a cure for Alzheimer's disease will be found."
"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."
From now on when I ponder the future of long-term care, I'll think about Uncle Jimmy.
"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."
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.
"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."
So, how should I react to what that back-stabbing little blankety-blank (fake name redacted for HIPAA compliance) said or did to me?
"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."
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.
"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."
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.
"Exactly what I'm wearing now [a tie, dress shirt, black pants]. I wear this every day except Friday, which is casual."
Have you ever had some well-meaning someone give you a gift that turns out to be more like a job?