As a former administrator I’ve witnessed, and embarrassingly partaken in, lots of finger pointing.

As a former administrator I’ve witnessed, and embarrassingly partaken in lots of finger pointing. The non-supervisory staff members think that their direct supervisors have no clue and that the leadership team lives in an ivory tower. The leaders think the staff don’t step up to the plate and are taskmasters. They cringe when it’s conveyed to them that one of their team uttered the words, “That’s not my resident,” or “That’s not my job.” Residents think they are invisible to the staff around them as they go whizzing by with a quick hello & a shallow compliment. “They obviously don’t care about me,” they reason. Family members treasure a few individual employees, but the rest don’t work as hard and they ponder why they aren’t working in another field that doesn’t require a caring heart. “They should be flipping burgers if they can’t do this work.”

And the Regulators . . .

And forget about the regulators. They have no sense of reality, and wouldn’t last a minute if they had to actually work in the field. It’s easy for them to point out what’s wrong, but what about how to fix it or, heaven forbid, pointing out what’s going well and sharing that info with others? There are lots of fingers being pointed and fault being tossed around, but who’s perspective is right?

finger pointing

Who’s right?

The staff? Perhaps. Leaders and managers often don’t listen to them. Their suggestions are dismissed with a less than enthusiastic, and often defensive, response. The leadership team is convinced when they read employee engagement statistics, such as only 1 in 3 employees is engaged in their work, that the author is talking about some other organization. The leaders? We all know it starts at the top. But truly, how on earth can a person who works in such a caring profession ever utter the words, “It’s not my job,” or state that a resident isn’t “theirs” so they aren’t helping? Is the leadership team responsible for every cringe worthy word that rolls off of a staff member’s tongue? The residents? They are our customers and aren’t the customers always right? I’d feel like Mr. Cellophane too if people were just hurrying around me all day long. How many times have we learned incredibly important details when it is too late, through their obituary? But realistically is there ever enough time or staff to spend the time we want? The family? Tainted by the reputation of long-term care and the weight of guilt that hangs heavy on their heart, family members are often unconsciously looking for all the things that are going wrong. As I often share in my presentations, when you look for the bad you will undoubtedly find it. At the same time, we often do a very poor job of embracing family members input and suggestions and instead tend to keep them at an arm’s length. The regulators? The closer I have gotten to regulators through my work, the more I realize they are really no different than each one of us that’s trying to make a difference. Are their good ones? Yes. Are their bad ones? Yes. But the same can be said for Administrators, CEOs, Nursing Assistants, Housekeepers and any job title in the world. Regulators have very often been exposed to horrors that you can’t begin to imagine in your organization. From that unique perspective most are on a mission to prevent such things from happening again. *Full disclosure: I’m a former administrator. I have lived through deficiency free surveys and lived through a horrific federal survey. I get it! I realize there are more pieces to the puzzle: federal regulations, state regulations, funding (or lack thereof), and aging infrastructures. The list goes on and on. But I’m particularly curious about the human side of this. What do you think? Who’s right?   Denise Scott is a passionate senior living speaker, teacher and consultant who helps senior living organizations provide the highest quality of life for their residents and team members.  You can read more about her on Denise’s website where you will also find lots of great resources:

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