Taking one for the team: The OPTIMA presentation

One common frustration I’ve heard long-term care administrators voice involves not the strains and stresses of their own jobs, but the lack of recognition and respect for their frontline teams of caregivers.

Maybe that’s why Norme Torres, executive director of Mather Pavilion, Evanston, Illinois, couldn’t stop smiling yesterday. I was privileged to visit his non-profit skilled nursing facility and, together with Shellee Roloff of Direct Supply, presented him and his team of managers, nurses, and CNAs Long-Term Living’s 2010 OPTIMA Award for its workforce empowerment program—called LEAP (Learn, Empower, Achieve, Produce).

And when Joyce Garcia, CNA II, was asked to stand up at the podium and say a few words, there were a few glistening eyes among her co-workers, residents, and guests. To visit a progressive skilled nursing facility like this and witness the hard, hard work these professionals do with very modest pay and sometimes little positive feedback is awesome and humbling. To be able to present a small token of appreciation is gratifying and yet frustrating. We wish we could do more. These are the people who have embraced the sometimes vague concept of culture change at its most basic level: one-on-one care, respect, dignity, and compassion for our most vulnerable population.

Mather Pavilion represents the very best practices of this field and the culture change model. To read more about its award-winning program, click here.

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