The most important job in any eldercare housing environment is that of the caregiver -- CNAs, Resident Assistants, Sitters, etc. They are underappreciated and undervalued in the industry -- just look at their average pay and the average turnover. These employees, despite their critical importance for our elderly, are about the only ones in the process without a voice. 4OurElders, Inc. will be a continuing advocate for these caregivers, and offers the following 10 tips as a beginning of that dialog.
1) Care and service is your only priority and sacrifice nothing for that. When you cannot adequately provide it, say so, document it and follow-up with your supervisor and/or administrator -- no matter hard that is for you. Whether it’s staffing levels, your experience level or that of your colleagues or acuity levels increasing, you are the care-giving gate keeper.
2) Hold yourself and your colleagues--including superiors—accountable for good care and service. Care giving is EVERYONE’S business. Whatever you do in the facility—or at headquarters for that matter—you are either enabling or impeding good care. When good care does not occur, document it and follow-up for resolution through proper people and channels.
3) Know your policies and procedures and hold everyone including yourself accountable for following them and for documenting when they are not followed. Communicate regularly with the family, and document everything your policies and procedures tell you to document PLUS anything your conscience tells you should be in the record.
4) Help review, refresh and redo those policies—or any other facility practice-- when they get in the way of good care and service. And have specific examples to carry the day.
5) Seek help when you are burned out or when you think a colleague is. Help is available, and you cannot deliver good care for long when you are burned out.
6) Love your residents; it’s okay. They probably love you. Too. And even if they don’t, you still should love them. You are part of their family--sometimes better than family—and if anybody tells you that “you are too close to the resident,” they are probably wrong. I have never seen too much care and service--ever.
7) Know when you have to admit that a resident’s acuity is beyond your community’s capabilities to handle. It’s tough for you because the resident can be like family--but sometimes you are the best if not only one uniquely qualified to say “it’s time.”
8) Don’t ever lie to the state; do not ever let a resident’s rights be restricted. Be an advocate for YOUR adopted family.
9) Know when it’s time for YOU to leave. A job is not worth you having to give bad care and service. If you do not have the resources and support to deliver good care and service, document it and move on. Others are willing to hire people dedicated to delivering good quality care and service.
10) Look in the mirror several times a day -- and know that there are lots of people who don’t even know your name but who think you are a hero because of God’s work you do. Celebrate how you feel and what you do. Few CAN do what you do. Fewer still WILL do it.