Gary Tetz

That’s right, it’s my birthday. I’ll pause just long enough for you to feel bad about not yet wishing me a happy one. 

It’s not too late, by the way, although now it will gnaw at me that you had to be reminded. But even though anything you say at this belated point will be suspect and diminished in value, please say it anyway. 

Actually, if you’re leading a stand-up or interdisciplinary team meeting in your long-term care building today, perhaps it should begin with a rousing round of commemorative applause for me. If you’re not sure what to say, just tell your team how no living writer has made such an impact on your life, happiness and worldview, and that you wish to pay homage to and celebrate my continued existence. 

Don’t take it too far, though. I’m a humble Canadian who loathes fawning overstatement. 

I get only one birthday a year, so leaving nothing to chance, I proactively asked a nursing home administrator/friend if she had bought me a gift. Absolutely, she assured me. All I had to do was go to a store of my choosing, pick out something nice and pay for it myself. She’d done the rest. 

Admittedly, that’s why she’s such a great facility leader. She sets clear boundaries, meticulously manages every penny, wields a warped sense of humor and won’t be passive aggressively manipulated. But as a friend, as of today, she became a deep disappointment. 

That’s because of all people, in a profession that increasingly depends on data analytics for success, she should know better. Intangibles like loyalty, trust, honesty and empathy are nice in a friendship, but since only the monetary value of purchased gifts can be empirically measured, that’s what should drive her critical decision making. 

If she can’t even keep her birthday gift-giving data points moving in the right direction, how’s she going to manage under PDPM? Please understand that this isn’t at all about me. I’m just selflessly concerned about her professional survival, and am committed to helping her embrace and implement birthday best practice. 

For example, even if George Clooney had shown up at my apartment this morning to wish me well on my special day, as you might recall he did for a resident in a British nursing home a while back, it still wouldn’t be something measurable. In this outcome-focused birthday environment, where only tangible, expensive gifts really matter, I’d express gratefulness for his effort, but would still ask if he forgot my present in the car. 

I feel bad for my administrator/friend, and it’s unfortunate that I have to call her out publicly, but sometimes that’s what it takes to achieve culture change and operational excellence. At least she isn’t going to be held accountable through a national 5-Star birthday rating system. Yet. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) awards program. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a multimedia consultant for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.