Ask the nursing expert

Q: Is it unrealistic to set department goals for the upcoming year with the many challenges we are facing in long-term care?

A: I can understand your hesitance, but based on my experience as a director of nursing, goal setting gives your team an opportunity to get to projects that you “always wish you had time to get to.” I would caution you and your team to select two to three projects to focus on, and spread the timeline out throughout the year.

An example might be to develop a strong restorative nursing program. Break down what will be needed, such as policies and procedures, training, and documentation, and spend a month on each section. We seem to spend much of our time “fighting fires” and preparing for surveys. Remember to celebrate all of your completed projects and the goals the team met at the end of the year together.

Q: What can I do when we have more budget cuts surrounding us, are asked to do more with less and I
have a staff that is generally feeling worn out?

A: We are all facing a new year and it is a good time to meet in small focus groups with your nursing staff to let them know that you are aware of the challenges they continue to face and how much you appreciate their commitment to quality care.

Bring a notebook and pen and engage them in “survival ideas” that they might have, as well as some ideas of your own. This lets them know that you acknowledge the intensity of their work and that you value their input in managing the workload. I would also suggest quarterly follow-up meetings so that they know you are hanging in there with them and are on their side.