Jacke Vance

I am sure you have all heard the saying, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”  But in our profession, I think we find that sometimes it’s both.

So, what in the heck do I mean? Well, when creating change in our facilities, sometimes we have to make a quick change and life is great. But most times, for change to last, it is a slow process, taking months or even years to occur.

Culture change is definitely a marathon, years in the making actually. Getting “task focused” staff to change their mindset to person centered care will never happen overnight. Improving customer service is a “marathon” endeavor. Getting staff to see that something wrong, feel ownership and solve it (which is necessary in every organization) will be a constant undertaking.

Sure, sometimes we have to sprint. Like, super-fast, like the wind. Like surveyors walked in and you just noticed that all the bathing rooms look like they haven’t been cleaned in a month-kind of bad. Like call lights are on the floor instead of next to the resident kind of bad (… you get my point!). This is the time you do huddles, “whack-a-mole” training, get ’er done training. You missed it, you’re human, get out the fire hose.

But don’t make a habit of putting out fires.

If you want to avoid the sprint (and who doesn’t — you get winded doing that!), then I suggest you do daily customer service rounds. This is very different from clinical rounds. Take a “walkabout” and look in the residents’ rooms. How would someone taking a tour perceive them? Look in the bathing rooms. Would you want to take a shower in them? Are they pristine or are there wheelchairs with linens stuffed in them, trash bins overflowing with soiled briefs, or do you have unidentifiable stuff piled up in the bath tubs and showers?

Have someone you trust but staff doesn’t know (a secret shopper) go on the units and see if anyone acknowledges them, asks them if they need assistance, etc. In other words, look at your units with a customer’s eye, not a clinical eye. It can be quite an awakening experience (or one that makes you want to barf!).

So, while occasionally we have to sprint (be ready for it), plan for the marathon. It’s better for your health (and there’s less barfing, more smiling)!

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.