Elf solves LTC staffing crisis

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

November 28 is ruined for me now. Thanks, CMS.

For years, I've been celebrating it as the fateful day in 1443 when Albanian George Kastriotis Skanderbeg and his forces liberated Kruja in Middle Albania from the Ottomans and raised the Albanian flag.

Not anymore. Now it's forever going to be, “Requirements of Participation: Phase 2 Day," which is not catchy or festive, and sounds like the worst movie sequel of all time.

Speaking of stringent regulations, at this time of year we really need to talk about the whole Elf on a Shelf (EOAS) thing. If you're a parent, you're more familiar than you wish to be with this holiday “tradition” and its very strict rules.

Each night, you're obligated by law in most states to conceal the creepy toy in the pointy red hat in a different home location for your child(s) to find, but absolutely not to move, lest the magic be ruined. The EOAS then watches him/her/them all day, and reports any misdeeds back to Santa, who updates his records and takes appropriate action.

This has to be a terribly stressful time for children, but actually, with only a couple weeks of EOAS surveillance to survive each holiday season, they have it absurdly easy. Long-term care people, on the other hand, are watched by CMS elves all year, and their naughty/nice reports back to Santa are posted online for the world to see. It's a stark and troubling inequity, made more so by the new challenges of Phase 2 compliance.

That's why, to establish a greater sense of fairness and equality between our children and our profession, I propose that all EOAS reports be made publicly available on the web through the creation of a Five-Star rating system for child behavior. If an elf sees Jayden steal a cookie, she loses a star — and a percentage of her bundled allowance payments going forward.

This would not only enhance and support parental discipline through financial penalties and the power of global shaming, it would help our young people develop the emotional toughness required for future long-term care careers, thus easing the staffing shortage.

Problem solved, though I can't in good conscience take credit for the idea. An elf whispered it to me.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He has amused, informed and sometimes befuddled long-term care readers worldwide since his debut with the former SNALF.com at the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.


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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with SNALF.com at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.