Sometimes I get some heat from staff in nursing homes who read my blog about how I come across overly critical of their profession. First off, if I do, I publicly apologize to any nursing home staff who took some of my industry critiques personally. The truth is that for 95% of people working in nursing homes I have a great deal of respect and admiration. From my perspective, it is a difficult– yet significantly under-appreciated job.
Typically, my critique of nursing home employees– be it rouge employees who shockingly act out in an abusive manner or other facilities where the ‘human touch’ has been long lost as employees scramble to complete their daily tasks– is the fact that some of these people have seemingly forgotten the basic premise of their job– to care for people. Sure there may be menial tasks to perform or paperwork to complete, but the fact remains that for the majority of nursing home patients, nurses and staff represent more than mere caregivers— they are their friends, family and sole connection to the outside world.
Causing nursing home staff to take a step back from their immediate task to consider their larger– and perhaps even more significant role– may seem counterproductive from the perspective of a corporation who’s intent on improving efficiency, but by recognizing this essential element of care, corporations can actually improve their overall operation with more pleasant environments for both patients and the people who work in the facilities.
I know such an abstract concept of encouraging staff to care and just be more compassionate is likely difficult for many operations to grasp until they see a tangible impact on their operation. However, I was taken with a new campaign I read about at an English hospital in response to patient feedback where they complained of “coldness, indifference and contempt”. The Compassion in Practice campaign is intended to remind staff that the technical demands of the practice are just a portion of each patient’s overall needs.
According to Peter Crome, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine at Keele University (England);
I believe what they mean is that nursing and other care staff– whether they’re in hospitals, hospices or the community– should take a more caring and compassionate role when it comes to looking after vulnerable groups, rather than what is often seen as a very task-oriented approach.
As part of this campaign, some nursing schools have adapted a This is Nursing campaign where students are exposed to typical situations they are exposed to — and how they should react.
From my perspective as a nursing home abuse lawyer, I think an element of compassionate care, is a program that should be employed as part of all staff training– be it new hires or experienced workers. Of course, I wouldn’t expect such programs to be employed by large nursing home operations in the absence of a benefit for them– but I would strongly suspect that such programs would actually improve the operations bottom line.
What would happen when people actually want to be at their facility? Higher staff retention rates, higher occupancy rates, happier families (who may be reluctant to pursue litigation?). Perhaps compassionate care is a good business model?