Great Metrics Come from Great Team Building in Eldercare Facilities
by Steven Ellsweig
Eldercare Assisted Living facilities all have multi-disciplinary teams that work together to serve residents and their families. At least, that’s the idea. But as anyone who’s ever worked knows, it’s easier to give lip service to building a successful, functional team, than it is to actually do it.
At Sunrise of Norwood, we have a medium-sized senior living community of 87 residents served by a team of 90 operational, care giving and nursing employees. We consider ourselves “apartment buildings with attitude” and design our services to help our residents be as independent as possible.
Nearly every eldercare organization is faced with the same challenge: managing day-to-day operations consistently and with high quality of care, while dealing with the ever-changing needs of the residents and the resident community. While we’re not perfect, we think we have found the secret to success: creating, developing and fostering a sense of pride throughout the team. Here are our strategies to build an eldercare team that is proud of what they do and proud of their organization.
Proven Eldercare Management Strategies Used by Sunrise of Norwood
Give Nine Compliments to One Critique
This may sound simple – and, frankly, it is. Every manager must provide a critique or give negative feedback to team members. After all, no one’s perfect. We take a proactive view of each and every team members’ performance, and therefore offset the negative feedback with meaningful compliments. We use a nine-to-one ratio. This keeps our team members interested and engaged—because we tell them we appreciate and value them as people and acknowledge the contributions they make to our organization.
End Each Day on a Positive Note
Every eldercare worker has a bad day now and then. There are daily stresses, emergency situations, and any number of regular “snafus” that can turn a good day bad. Regardless of how the day went – what went well, what didn’t go so well – we make a point of ending the day on a positive note. Sometimes that’s just wishing them a safe drive home.
Provide the ‘Big Picture’ for Metrics
Performance metrics can be a scary thing for both the organization and the eldercare worker. Often both the organization and the workers can view it as a review of “what went wrong,” and “what we’ll be reprimanded for.” We take a different view of metrics – we’ve worked hard to make metrics a cause for group discussions around issues, and not something to be viewed as a ‘finger-pointing’ exercise. We work with our teams to be fastidious about reporting and use all of our teams to understand trends and issues that need to be addressed. For example, if we have a resident with multiple falls, it will result in the team looking into the causes and problem-solving to find the best solution for that resident. Do we need to put other people in place? Does the care plan need to be updated? Without tracking those metrics, as an organization, we might not notice the problem, and therefore miss an opportunity to find a better solution. By involving every member of the team to understand why we track the metrics and how that data can help them be better care givers, we empower them. Metrics become a tool for improvement, not punishment.
Our strategy for demanding excellence is to make certain our team members have an understanding of our processes, what we are trying to accomplish and why. They need to understand what they do has an impact on our ability to be profitable, meet state regulations and serve our residents and their families effectively. This is not simply asking people to do what they are told to do. In fact, we encourage and challenge our teams to push back, think about different ways of doing things, take a step up and engage in improving our overall care.
We recently had the opportunity to reflect on how that sense of pride results in high-quality care. Like any eldercare facility, we go through periodic quality audits. Our organization did very well – and we attribute this to the hard work and pride our team has in their individual tasks, the success of the teams and the overall performance of the organization. In fact, we received a nice compliment from the audit committee that said that our team appeared more comfortable and cooperative than most – and they asked us to discuss how we achieved that.
If you are looking to improve the metrics of your eldercare organization, perhaps it’s time to think about transforming managers into leaders by taking these few steps to build a happy, proud team
Steven Ellsweig is the Executive Director of Sunrise Assisted Living, Norwood, and has lectured in Rehab Counseling and in Eldercare Management at Boston University and Lasell College. Steven will teach Stepping up to Leadership with Jo Ann McManamy and Shaping Team Culture in Eldercare with Hector Iweka.
Julie Lund is a health care coordinator with Sunrise Assisted Living, Norwood. Her previous experience includes being a staff nurse at a hospital for children, a psychiatric case manager and nursing shift supervisor. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Curry College and a Master of Arts in Counseling from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary.