1) You are the Chief Care and Service Officer. Your primary and overriding responsibility is to ensure your team delivers great care and service. If your employer does not agree with this basic responsibility, LEAVE. There are plenty of other owners out there who want and need people with your type of commitment.
2) Cooperate with state and federal authorities. Be courteous, respectful, cooperative and forthcoming. Create “consulting relationships” with surveyors, ombudsmen and government officials for the betterment of your community.
3) Honor and protect any and all resident rights. Preserve the dignity of every resident at all times.
4) Make rounds often, and know your residents and families well. Be a good communicator, which starts with being a good listener (see Stephen Covey’s Habit 5 in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”). Seek to understand before being understood. Do NOT leave unanswered questions—they almost always lead to more and more difficult questions later.
5) Take care of your caregivers; care and service is everyone’s job, no exceptions. Instill in every member of your staff an absolute belief that, whatever their job title, they are part of the care and service chain.
6) Create good relationships in the surrounding community. It does “take a village.”Create good working relationships with physicians, clergy, social and civic groups, universities, community leaders -- all of whom can bring immeasurable benefits to your smaller but equally important facility community. Seek out volunteers who can make life better for staff, residents and families alike.
7) Embrace a team approach; your community will be far more successful working as a team. And the team includes the residents, their families and the outside resources alluded to in #s 2 and 6 above, as well as your paid staff. Make sure you staff knows it is okay – in fact, necessary-- to consider the residents as part of their family.
8) Address and resolve problems early before they escalate. Enlist whomever you need to ensure resolution is complete and fair to all involved. Document regularly and completely. Follow your policies and procedures.
9) Be available. Post 24-7-365 contact numbers for you and key staff.
10) Celebrate often and regularly. The community should celebrate everything, from normal holidays to birthdays to anniversaries to just the fact that it is a GREAT community and family. This includes honoring those who pass in dignified and respectful ways, consistent with family desires.