When one joins any new endeavor in its infant stages, one is
well aware of the growing pains of progress. Having recently entered the
post-acute provider world, the new short-term “transitional rehab center” model
of care and the traditional “nursing home” are two different entities under the
same umbrella of regulatory requirements.
As a short-term care provider, the economic and regulatory
pressures, coupled with the desire to exceed consumer expectations, created a
whole different look, feel, and feeling for a facility’s caregivers. This new
model of post-acute care poses inherent challenges to a caregiver’s success.
A traditional long term care environment affords people the
gift of time to bond with patients and their loved ones. In this new world,
with over 100 admissions and discharges and an average length of stay of 19
days or less, care delivery occurs at a much different pace. From admission,
caregivers are rushed to establish a level of functional trust and,
simultaneously, grow a bond between professional and patient. Moment-by-moment
caregiving has turned into second-by-second significance.
As an administrator, the million dollar question is, “How do
you do this?” How does one craft a message and deliver a level of
customer-service excellence that influences a person’s trust level,
immediately? The answer to this dynamic equation lies in the foundation that a
facility builds for its associate experience. A foundation is built on the
values of trust and empathy. Creating a values-based environment provides
caregivers with a much-needed, and wanted, decision-making compass.
Start From Day One
Human behavior and decision making are influenced at the
core of a person’s belief system, or values. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to
share one’s beliefs with the team from the moment someone joins a professional
family? On “day one” of the new employment experience, Santé of Mesa, Ariz.,
doesn’t review policies and procedures. The facility doesn’t delve into the
drudgery of compliance. Santé doesn’t sit them in a room and play videos about
HIPAA or hand washing. Rather, the facility stays at the human level and talks
What influences and drives behavior? One’s thoughts,
beliefs, and values determine the way that one behaves and are the most
powerful tools that one has to meet the demands of any caregiving opportunity.
If a values-driven foundation is the sounding board against which one bounces
off one’s decisions, the result surely will be better decisions.
Santé’s employees are its most valuable asset. This
priceless truth is emphasized on their first day of employment, where they are
given an opportunity to be seen, heard, and felt. Extending trust to a group of
new associates who are hardly known gives them a newfound sense of credibility
in their profession. Having this kind of trust, however, doesn’t come without
Santé’s associates are aware of their responsibility toward
nurturing its values-based environment. The facility has a commitment to its
co-workers, in which everyone lifts each other when times are hard.
Finger-pointing, blaming, and backbiting do not support a values-based culture
and, therefore, are not allowed. Santé does not recognize rank and title, as management
intimately understands that everyone’s contributions are different—not more or
In the interdependent world of caregiving where the
facility’s success is partly due to someone else’s performance, conflict
management skills are priceless. Santé teaches its associates how to speak professionally and
in a nonaccusatory way to the people with whom they are concerned. The facility does not teach,
“Take it to their supervisor,” as one so often sees and hears. This, in itself,
is one of the main points of contention in its hierarchical world of
educational levels and titles. Teaching Santé’s team to behave like a team
starts on day one with communication basics.
Finally, Santé recognizes that its mission is difficult. The
facility doesn’t sugarcoat the fact that a values-based environment is not an
easy one to work within. Santé challenges its new associates to rise to the
occasion! It empowers them through basic truths and deploys them to influence
others in the community. All the while, management understands that Mesa’s
foundation is what keeps its house firmly planted. Person by person, associate
by associate, teammate by teammate, the facility’s foundation is fortified.
As a result of this approach, Santé’s team members are able
to confidently and compassionately care for those who need it. They are valued,
heard, respected, and, ultimately, empowered to deliver the highest quality of
care possible. They are changing lives, one second at a time.
Ami Reynolds, chief
executive officer of Santé of Mesa, Ariz., http://santecares.com/, is a
certified and licensed nursing home administrator. She has been in Arizona
skilled nursing since 1991 and holds a Master’s degree in business
administration. Reynolds formerly was an adjunct faculty member at Ottawa
University, teaching organizational theory and behavior. She can be reached at
email@example.com and (480) 699-9624.