The glowing candle

No doubt many of our readers are familiar with the religious group called The Christophers. Using various media to inspire people to apply Judeo-Christian principles to their daily lives (their founder, Father James Keller, had perhaps the most engaging radio personality I’ve ever heard), they’ve popularized the ancient Chinese saying, “Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” I haven’t heard Father Keller, I must admit, in over 40 years, but The Christophers came to mind when I first read a draft of the article “More Than Surviving: Keys to Thriving as an Administrator”

In it, University of California, San Francisco investigator Jennifer McCarthy, PhD, MPH, reports on a study she did of nursing homes administrators’ appreciation of their jobs. Coming through loud and clear as a major factor in job satisfaction is the personal relationships these administrators have with their residents. The interactions they experience, the admiration they feel for some residents, and the pride they take in calming difficult behavior from time to time apparently cause them to show up happily for work day after day.

I know that our magazine “specializes” in discussing long-term care’s problems (we’re bad news bears, I mean journalists, after all). We do go on at length and in depth about the challenges, some of them outrageous, that administrators and DONs must grapple with. Keeping up with complex, demanding regulations; dodging bullets from the litigiously inclined; trying to train staff and encourage the good ones to stay on; feeling caught in the proverbial hard place between stingy government financing and for-profit (and not-for-loss) demands; soldiering on despite public indifference or worse-these are facets of a job that would send most hardworking, ambitious managerial types screaming into the night. Add to this the growth of the most physically and mentally compromised customer base, and the wonder is that anyone takes on this job at all.

But administrators, DONs, and other top managers do, and the better ones do so with great satisfaction. That’s because they are the ultimate “people persons,” offering vulnerable individuals support that no one else will provide but along the way, when possible, enjoying and learning from those whom they serve. Often they form intense relationships and lasting memories.

They are candles that glow no matter how dark things get or how many directions their profession pulls them. May such people always be with us and may their light ever shine.
To comment on this editorial, please send e-mail to peck0805@nursinghomesmagazine.com.

Topics: Articles