We may talk about a mission of caring and compassion. But is your retirement community really about making sure your residents have, literally, the times of their lives, no matter what physical or cognitive challenges they may have?

A mission around the idea of “caring” is very easy to talk but very hard to implement. After all, retirement communities are populated by the oft-times cranky, stressed, ill and unhappy – and that’s just the employees! After all, people aren’t perfect, and we often bring at least some of our disappointments, pain and suffering with us to the workplace. We’re also a quirky lot, we humans, and not all of us are cut out for a line of work that is all about giving ourselves to ensure another’s comfort.

So how can you ensure that you help your retirement community or nursing facility become one that’s filled with employees who embrace a mission of caring? Read the tips below, many of which come from an article by Scott McCutcheon, COO of an assisted living community in Minnesota, in the May/June 2012 issue of Assisted Living Executive.

1) Begin with the end in mind. This means that you work to ensure your managers hire not only for skill but for compassion and mindset. When you interview, your managers should be asking questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time you dealt with someone angry or in pain and how you handled it.
  • How do you handle the stress of working with people who are frail, sick or depressed?
  • Have you ever had to tell someone bad news? How did you do it, and what was the result?
  • What do you do when it is near the end of your shift – and you are tired- and one of our residents suddenly becomes “unreasonable”? Can you describe a time this happened to you? How did you handle it?

2) Once on board, is your community onboarding your new hires with an extensive training program that includes

  • orientation
  • formal training
  • peer shadowing

Your new employees need to learn how to live the community’s mission, vision and values.  This does not mean to simply memorize them;  they must learn to translate the mission, vision and values into their everyday tasks, routines and interactions.

3) Employee training must include all the essential components of quality care – meaning a level of care that far exceeds minimum legal requirements.  By focusing on everything from these legal requirements to daily tasks to the  “mission-critical aspects” of being a caregiver as someone who “nurtures, coaches, assesses, and engages residents.”

4) Are your community’s executives engaging with residents on a regular basis? Like all bosses, directors who do so ensure that they stay tuned to residents’ expectations and needs and serve as a role model for team members.

5) If your community isn’t already doing so, why not suggest that it get your residents involved in their own community’s operations? Menu and social committee members are “obvious,”  as well as mail distribution, but you should encourage residents to become active in making decisions regarding maintenance concerns, landscaping, activities, holiday planning and so on

We hope you’re enjoying our blog posts and that you’ve bookmarked our Snelling Medical Blog so that you may visit us here every Tuesday morning to learn more about how you can do your job better – and enjoy it all the more – as you help make your retirement or assisted living community the best it can be. Thank you for reading Snelling Medical’s blog!

NOTE:  Full color, downloadable PDF is available.