You're fired! Welcome to the team
A nursing home administrator I know had to terminate an employee recently, and despite her best efforts, he took it poorly. She learned more about him in the five minutes after she delivered the news than in the whole two years previous. It wasn't pretty. Like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story," he needed to spend some time holding a bar of soap between his teeth.
The holy grail of long-term care hiring would have to be the ability to divine in advance who will end up becoming a personnel liability and workplace nightmare. Most providers try to do that with a combination of intuition, hypnosis, polygraphs, frisking and background checks.
It's also clear that investing in recruitment processes and better training can certainly help minimize problems before they start.
But I have an even better, more innovative idea; one that has never been given the chance it deserves in a long-term care setting. When a new employee shows up for that first day at work, at some point when he or she least expects it, fire him or her. Over a triviality. For no apparent reason. How he reacts will be the best possible indicator of character and suitability. If he or she shows grace under pressure and doesn't throw things, you've probably found the right person.
It's unfortunate you'll have to resort to this, but with the high costs of rehiring and retraining, you need all the accurate, immediate information you can get. Another, less tangible reward will be watching the relief on his face when you suddenly smile and say, "Good work, Joe. You pass the test. Welcome to the team."
Admittedly, he might be a little bitter at first, and his initial impulse might be to walk quickly to the car and not look back. But if he decides to stay despite knowing you played such a cruel trick, he's probably someone you can count on for the long haul.
Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. 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.