Could this be your facility or one that you know? A marketing consultant visited a skilled nursing facility recently and was set back by the response she received. This was her experience:
“To get inside, she had to walk along a circle drive. As she walked along the drive, she passed several residents sitting in their wheelchairs. Some of those residents were coherent; others were not. There was no attendant in sight. The consultant proceeded to the front door, and as she opened it, she was greeted with a strong smell of urine. The front room was dark with no ambience lighting. Once inside the door, the consultant found the receptionist. Before the receptionist could greet her, the receptionist had to answer the phone and then pay her co-worker for buying her lunch. Soon the attendant acknowledged the consultant and made a call to the administrator.
The administrator came to greet the consultant quickly. The administrator extended his hand and graciously agreed to take her on a tour. However, before leaving the front room he wanted her to know they were struggling with turnover and retention.
With that comment, the consultant took the opportunity to share information about the Nurse Leadership Training Program supported by Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) Grant, which is also approved by the Department of Aging as a Quality Improvement Program. The consultant emphasized this program is free for his nurse managers. She told him that the statistics currently show a 34% decrease in staff turnover in the facilities that are participating. The administrator continued walking and did not make any comments or ask any questions.
The first unit they visited was the Dementia Unit. It was locked so he used his key code to allot them access. As they toured, the consultant states she saw residents wandering around with no purpose to their steps; some were going in and out of rooms; others were watching TV and others were rocking back and forth in their chair calling out. There were no activities taking place at the time of the tour. While they were touring the unit, she shared that there was another CMP Grant Program regarding dementia care delivery. She again mentioned this program was free for the facilities and that it also was a quality improvement program approved by the Department of Aging. The administrator nodded his head in acknowledgement but did not ask any questions. He led the consultant through the locked doors to the skilled unit.
As they entered the skilled unit, he turned to her and explained again that they were short-staffed that day and she may observe several residents still in bed at 2 p.m. He was correct. After a quick tour of the skilled unit, the administrator guided her back to the front lobby. When they arrived at the lobby, the administrator put out his hand to her. After a quick handshake and exchange of brochures on the two programs, he was gone.
The consultant went back to her car and sat there for a moment. She wondered if there was anything more she could have done? It saddened her that the administrator made no attempt to ask her any questions about either free program.
To this day, none of the nurses from this facility have signed up for the Nurse Leadership Program and there have been no inquiries from this facility regarding to the Dementia Program.”
In this day and age of long-term care, with the choking regulations and decreased reimbursement, why would a facility (which is clearly in need) not take part in training programs that can help them and are being offered to them for free? Could it be the:
- owners do not allow staff members to participate in any outside programs?
- owners are afraid staff members will leave them if they get with other companies and compare?
- facility leaders think staff members will come back from training and ask for more staffing and equipment?
- facility does not believe these programs are truly free?
Or is it despair and apathy — the two greatest enemies in the long-term care industry? Both are hard to combat once they get a hold of you. If you are struggling with despair or apathy, please don’t give up. We need you!
You entered this industry to make a difference and the same kinds of residents are still here and they still need your help. There are many of us who have “walked the walk” that are doing our best to make things better for you. Several of us are setting up programs and offering coaching to help. We are making programs affordable — if not free (links are below).
Do not let despair and apathy rob you of your dreams. There are still a lot of facilities that have great owners — owners that are in the industry for the right reason. As a leader you will be challenged, but victory is not beyond your reach. It is just sometimes you have to stretch a bit to reach that victory. Research the Civil Monetary Penalty Grants being offered in your state.
Isolation is a friend of despair and apathy, so beware not to isolate yourself in your facility. Join or form a support group of like professionals in your local area — a group where you meet monthly or quarterly and you meet to work on and share solutions. Reach out and find a mentor!
Peg Tobin, RN, is president/owner of Tobin & Associates. She is also an author and international speaker on leadership.