I have a friend who says, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby!” She may be right. 

Most people are not comfortable with change. I mean, I get it, some change can be scary. When something is new, you don’t know the outcome. When we don’t know the outcome, we tend to think of the worst-case scenario. And we worry. 

And healthcare workers hate, and I really mean hate, to let go of their “woobie” (security blanket). Routine is our woobie. How often do you hear, “We’ve always done it ‘this’ way.” It doesn’t matter if the outcomes are no good “this” way! It’s just the way we’ve always done it. (Definition of insanity, anyone?)  

One of my favorite books is “Who Moved My Cheese” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. The central theme is the importance of adapting to change. And to adapt to change we must overcome our fears. The book helps us face those fears and realize that most often, change is a good thing and leads us towards growth. 

And, of course, we have the “change avoiders.” People can be very creative in avoiding change. There’s the hidden agenda-volunteer. This person volunteers to be on the project implementation committee. Then they drag their heels and hope that since they volunteered, no one will know they are sabotaging the change. 

And beware of the coffee volunteer. This is the one who, the minute you start the meeting related to your innovative project, volunteers to get everyone coffee. They come back near the end of the meeting. Everyone loves the coffee-to-go guy, but no one remembers that person completely avoided the project.

As a leader, please be sure to note that uncertainty and lack of direction will kill any change you want to put in place. People need to know the “why.” What is the purpose of this change you want? Why is this for the greater good? 

Also, you will need change agents (champions) in place. Oh, and for sure leaders must embrace the change. Like, if the director of nursing says, “It’s just another thing corporate wants us to do,” you can guarantee it “ain’t gonna” happen. 

In this rapidly evolving environment we call long-term care, please understand this: Organizations that fail to adapt risk being left behind or disappearing altogether. And in senior care, if we don’t innovate, we are going to die out like the dodos. 

I mean, think about it: In the AHCA/NCAL Silver and Gold award application, there are questions totally around pursuing innovation. In the award application glossary, AHCA/NCAL defines innovation as “Making meaningful change to improve healthcare services, processes, societal well-being or organizational effectiveness and create new or increased value for stakeholders. The outcome of innovation is a discontinuous or breakthrough change.”

The benefits of embracing change are abundant. By stepping out of our comfort zones and taking risks, we can experience personal growth, improve creative innovation, enhance point-of-view and improve outcomes.

So come on, don’t be a dodo. You can do this! And can someone (not up to improving) get me a coffee, please?

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.

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