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Jumping off the proverbial cliff

September 1, 2009
by Maureen Hrehocik, Editor
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In most cases I would describe myself as a pretty patient person. Notice I qualified that statement with “in most cases.” Patience is not a trait that has come easily or that I have mastered. I'm sure age has helped it along, but I have to talk to myself in some situations to stay calm and not to sweat the small stuff. It mystifies me that many people in service industries as well as others “don't have time” to help customers. This is a true test of patience. I have long given up on any hope of most clerks displaying manners. I would be happy if they merely knew their product and could help me get what I need or answer my question and send me on my way. But no. People being “too busy” to do their jobs is rampant. Clerks are answering the phone, ringing up purchases, have no backup help, and really don't care if they help you or make a sale. Doctors are tied to computers verifying patient notes, answering e-mail, and negotiating the politics of hospitals and clinics instead of hands-on patient care. They have forgotten that the customer needing help or the patient needing more than 10 minutes are the reason they have a job. How can they not have time to help? How many times have you, as an administrator, passed up the opportunity to talk to a resident because you were too busy, too preoccupied, or just weren't interested? Our lives have become so cluttered with meaningless tasks and minutia that it's very hard to sort out what really matters in what we do and to make time to do it. Your residents are the window to your professional world. They are your raison d'etre. Yet, how much of your culture springs from their needs and how much comes because it's convenient or the “way we've always done it”?

Our OPTIMA Award winner, Rolling Fields, featured on our cover, is an excellent example of resident-first care. Once the decision was made to institute 24-hour dining, the leadership team decided the best way to accomplish it was just “jumping off the cliff” and doing it. The results, as you'll read beginning on page 22, were more than anyone ever expected.

I'd also like to let you know that on the last page of our magazine, we are introducing a new monthly columnist-a resident-who will reflect on her life in a nursing home in Ohio. She is Kathleen Mears and has been a very popular blogger on http://www.ltlmagazine.com. Why do this, you may ask, when your day is filled with residents at your own facility who you can easily talk to? Because Kathleen is a thoughtful woman who has a gift of being able to express her feelings simply and eloquently. In Resident Reflections, she will discuss aspects of nursing home life she has experienced during the past 13 years. It is our hope that by including Kathy's viewpoints on these pages about life from a resident's perspective, it will remind you what valuable resources you have sitting in every room in your facility. They are your “customers” who rely on you for most aspects of their life. “Jumping off a cliff” to ensure resident-first care doesn't need to be deadly; in fact, it can make you and your staff feel like you're flying!

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Maureen Hrehocik Long-Term Living 2009 September;58(9):8