Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC
Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

We all know the expression; the squeaky wheel gets the grease. But why? Why do we do that in long-term care? We all have those squeaky residents or families that just are NEVER happy. 

But have you thought about how much time you are spending greasing those grumpy old wheels?

And let’s be honest, you could be greasing with expensive Castrol GTX Motor oil, and these constant complainers are still popping in your office needing to be greased again. Yet, at the end of it all, no matter how many hours you spend trying to please these grumpy Guses, they are NEVER going to give your facility high scores in customer service or in recommending your facility to others on your annual surveys.

And these folks are the first ones to call the state if they don’t like the toilet paper or if Mom (who has severe dementia) says on the phone that she hasn’t had a bath in weeks — without any evidence or speaking to you. 

And if Mom is 102 years old with a diagnosis of failure to thrive, vascular compromise, end-stage kidney failure, etc., and Mom dies peacefully in her sleep, they are calling 1-800-SUE-A-SNF. 

So why, why, are we wasting all of our energy on them when it takes away attention from all the residents and families that our attention could make a positive impact on? 

I mean, all Mrs. Smith wants is for the staff to bring her an ice pack at night for her swollen arthritic knee, or Mr. Johnson just wants a cup of coffee in the morning before getting out of bed. But you’re too busy catering to the constant complainer to meet these simple needs. So instead of those easy quick fixes that would have gotten you all 10 out of 10 on the survey, you got a bunch of 5’s or less and no one is giving you that so-desired word of mouth recommendation.

I’m not saying to not try and work things out with your complainers. But don’t give them the lion’s share of your time. As leaders, dedicate time to rounding on your residents so everyone gets some of your attention. Ask them if there is anything they need that would make their stay better and then check back with them to make sure it was implemented. 

These are the things that will make a difference. In other words, give them some of your Castrol GTX Motor oil and watch things run smoother.

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.