Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

When I am nervous about something, I hate being by myself. I want to know what to expect, what’s going to happen next, and most importantly, that there is somebody that’s got my back. I don’t think I am alone here, no pun intended. As a species, we like to be reassured.

So why is it we just can’t get our act together when it comes to our admissions? I mean, we know approximately when they are coming. It’s not that Hometown Hospital says, “Hey, let’s surprise Sunny Dale Health and Rehab and drop off Mr. Underwood!” 

Yet how many times does Mr. or Mrs. New Admission get placed in a room by transport and then wait, and wait, and wait while no one comes in. Maybe the staff is busy, maybe someone forgot to tell the CNA that they were getting an admission, maybe someone forgot what it’s like to be scared and alone.

And suddenly you hear someone singing that Celine Dion song “All by myself, don’t want to be…” coming from the room. Well probably quite not that, but you’ll get an earful, for sure. And guess what? It takes only 15 minutes (if that) for first impressions to be formed, and well, frankly, you blew it. Your resident survey scores are going to show it and nothing you do from now on will change Mr. or Mrs. Admission’s mind. 

Admit it. You can go into a highly Zagat-rated restaurant. Get seated at a nice table set with a lovely table setting. But if your wait staff doesn’t show up in 15 minutes, it doesn’t matter if what you ate was the best thing you ever put in your mouth, you’re going home and writing a terrible review on Yelp or Google. Because inside your head, for those 15 minutes, you were also singing, “All by myself, don’t want to be…” Do you want that to be your residents’ opinion of you?

So, roll out the red carpet. Set up a process where someone is available to meet the resident immediately upon admission. Cheerfully make them feel welcome. Show them where things are in the room, how the TV works, the bed controls, the call button etc. Explain the unit routines, what time meals are, offer a snack and take their order for the next meal (food is a HUGE issue!). If appropriate, offer to take them on a tour of the unit. Then, make sure they know approximately when the nurse will be in to do the admission assessment. Oh, and the cherry on the cake: Have all managers drop by and introduce themselves in the next 24 hours.

Make that first encounter meaningful in a good way, not in a your-resident-reviews-are-going-to-suck way. It doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time, and your residents will be singing a tune everyone will enjoy.

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, Senior Director of Clinical Innovation and Education for Mission Health Communities, LLC and an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real-life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.